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08th Jun 2016

There’s a subtle but surprising fact about Wikipedia you probably never noticed 

Cassie Delaney

Wikipedia is pretty much a staple of every college student’s existence.

The online encyclopaedia is a massive source of information on pretty much everything there is. Sure, it’s not always entirely accurate but it is generally the first stop for any project or essay that has ever been written.

However, we’ve just come across an interesting fact that we didn’t know about the site.

Despite it’s open source nature and the freedom for users to update pages, the site is penned almost entirely by men.

A study published in the Harvard Business Review this week found that a massive 91% of the sites content has been written and edited by dudes. According to the study, readership on the site is fairly balanced and the founders are perplexed as to why women are reluctant to contribute or edit the information.

The HBR states that last year, Jimmy Wales, the founder of the Wikimedia Foundation, said that the organisation failed to meet its goal of increasing women’s participation to 25% by 2015, despite launching a tonne of initiatives.

Professors, Julia Bear of Stony Brook University’s College of Business and Benjamin Collier of Carnegie Mellon University investigated the issue and tried to determine the reason women were not participating.

They published a report which detailed some upsetting findings.

The found that women reported feeling less confident about their level of expertise, felt less comfortable with editing work and in general women reacted more negatively to critical feedback than men.

And yes, it matters.

“The gender gap issue matters for several reasons. From a pure content perspective, men and women may bring different interests and preferences, and they may focus on different issues,” Bear told HBR.

“If we have such a small percentage of women contributing, then there are a lot of issues that will potentially be skewed or get less attention than they should.”