Recent research by the Wikimedia Foundation indicates that women may be under-represented among Wikipedia readers. Furthermore, our recent survey study suggests that this pattern is remarkably consistent across different Wikimedia language editions.
Potential underrepresentation of women among Wikipedia’s global readership is a phenomenon that deserves further study. In addition to performing empirical research to verify the findings from the recent reader gender survey, we should also investigate the potential causes of this potential gender gap. Reviewing previous research on gendered differences in information access, information needs, and information seeking behavior (on Wikipedia, on the internet as a whole, and within other domains of society) can help us generate testable hypotheses about the antecedents, nature, extent of a gender gap in Wikipedia readership.
In addition to a literature review, it may be helpful to identify external researchers who may have experience investigating gender gaps (on Wikipedia, and elsewhere). These researchers can help vet existing hypotheses, propose additional research papers to review, and may be interested in engaging in research collaborations to investigate proposed hypotheses.
A set of well-crafted hypotheses for the causes of Wikipedia reader gender gaps, and research studies based on these hypotheses, can help us identify potential technological and programmatic interventions that may be effective at narrowing these gaps.
- Summarize findings from a body of relevant academic and industry research focused on gender mediated differences in information access, information needs, and information seeking behavior on and off Wikipedia.
- Develop a set of testable hypotheses for the potential causes of a Wikipedia reader gender gap, with supporting evidence for each.
- Elicit feedback from subject matter experts.
- Identify potential research collaborators.
Hypotheses | Questions
- What are the findings of previous studies that have investigated or identified a gender gap in Wikipedia readership?
- What other information domains have shown evidence of gender-mediated differences in information access, information needs, and information seeking behavior?
- What hypotheses for gender gaps of this type have been proposed in previous research, and how well supported are these hypotheses?
- What hypotheses for gender gaps of this type provide the most explanatory power for the Wikipedia reader gender gap, and why?
Phase 1: Gathering a set of literature for review
- Perform a Google scholar search for terms related to gender gaps in Wikipedia and related information domains
- Perform a search on the Research and Grants namespaces on Meta.Wik for terms related to reader demographics and gender gaps
- Ask subject matter experts for recommendations of previous research related to gender gaps
- Scan all articles and remove those that aren’t directly relevant
Phase 2: Review literature
- Analyze and summarize hypotheses, methods, and findings of all research papers
- Supplement existing bibliography with previous research that is cited within these papers and/or recommended by subject matter experts
Phase 3: Develop a set of hypotheses
- Identify and describe a set of plausible hypotheses for the causes of a Wikipedia reader gender gap, with supporting evidence for each
- Identify potential external collaborators who Wikimedia Research may want to partner with to address these hypotheses