I had two stories about gender and social media cross my computer recently.
The first was The New York Times article “Define Gender Gap? Look Up Wikipedia’s Contributor List” which explained that while Wikipedia–the free, online encyclopedia “that anyone can edit”–is a top-ten internet destination with more than 3.5 million articles in English alone…less than 15% of the people volunteering to create and edit Wikipedia are women. Potentially, our culture is being defined online by a homogenous community of “wikipedians” who are almost universally white, Christian, technically-inclined, formally-educated males from the northern hemisphere between the ages of 15 and 49. At very least (ramifications to culture aside), this skews Wikipedia’s content:
With so many subjects represented — most everything has an article on Wikipedia — the gender disparity often shows up in terms of emphasis. A topic generally restricted to teenage girls, like friendship bracelets, can seem short at four paragraphs when compared with lengthy articles on something boys might favor, like, toy soldiers or baseball cards, whose voluminous entry includes a detailed chronological history of the subject.