It's long been known that the ranks of Wikipedia editors are mainly male. But now illustrator Santiago Ortiz has created an interactive looking at the proportion of edits on individual Wikipedia articles made by men vs. women, and it turns out that the gender divide on "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit" is even starker than we thought.
For this chart, the X-axis represents the number of male editors and the Y-axis represents the number of female editors. Each dot is a Wikipedia article, and the line down the middle shows the average 12.9 male editors to 1 female editor per article. The fact that the dots line the bottom means there are far more male editors for each female editor on individual articles.
Ortiz used a dataset culled by Wiki Trip, an independent site that visualizes Wikipedia data from Toolserver, a Wikimedia Foundation supported software platform. Only registered users who said a gender were included in the data, so users who abstained were not included. Theoretically, women could be less willing to volunteer their gender data, which would mean that the 12.9-to-1 ratio could be lower. But by comparing to the activity of those who did specify a gender, it's clear that the female editors who have registered are not contributing nearly as much as their male counterparts.
In Ortiz's interactive version, you can see what the differently colored dots dots mean. Ortiz categorized articles several different ways, including film, books, emotions, sports, most edited, and most visited, and his interactive lets you select the categories.
This is a screenshot of the most edited articles (green) and most visited articles (blue) by gender. (Note: The female editors' Y-axis is scaled differently from the male editor X-axis, so the disparity actually does not look as sharp as it is.) Not a single article is to the left of the 1-to-1 line, meaning no articles have been edited by as many men as women.
In fact, many of the articles that women would theoretically be better authorities on--menstruation, for example--are edited mostly by men, according to this screenshot of articles Ortiz selected. Only "cloth menstrual pads" inches past the 1-to-1 line.
Wikimedia Foundation's Sue Gardner has said that they want to add equalize the gender ratio more because "it’s an issue of quality," she told Forbes. "We want to bring the sum of all human knowledge to everybody and we can’t do that unless everybody’s at the table.” One thing's for sure: They've still got a long way to go.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.