Women and Wikimedian projects

For the background of this series of interviews, as well as for interviews, please take a look at the page Women and Wikimedia projects and its subpages.

At the early 2005, after almost one year of building community around projects in Serbian language, I started to think about lack of women in community around projects in Serbian language. There were around 20 of active contributors with only one female.

Serbia is a country at the late stadium of patriarchy. It is somewhere between West European countries (like, for example, Germany) and Mediterranean countries like, for example, Greece and Lebanon are. In Serbia it is not so rare to see woman as a minister, women are very often managers, but I wouldn’t bet that one female would become a president of Serbia soon. During the socialist period a lot of things were done toward women emancipation.

Because of all of those reasons I thought that the situation must be better in the Western countries. Even those countries are also in the late stadium of patriarchy, I thought that there are significantly better situation because those countries did more on women emancipation. At least, Serbia had hard time during 1990s.

Then Jimmy Wales came to Belgrade in April (or May, I forgot) 2005 and on his presentation he said that something like only 20% of editors are females. So, I realized that there is some structural problem with global society or with Wikimedia projects.

And before I came to the point, I want to mention one exception. I was in Zagreb, Croatia in the early 2006. In that time Croatian community was strictly male. However, when I came to Zagreb in August 2006 at the first general meeting of the Croatian Wikimedian community, I had seen a completely different situation: while their community leader is male, their community was leaded by females. Two male contributors from the beginning of Croatian projects were not able to contribute to Wikimedian projects anymore because of their duties and instead of them four females became significant part of their community.

With the exception of French community (Florance and Delphine), I didn’t find any other community where women are more visible then men. OK, I have to say that from Japanese community I know only Naoko (Aphaia), but it is not so easy to talk about a community when you know only one person from it. Even Dutch community has at least three prominent males (Oscar van Dillen, Gerard Meijssen and Andre Engels) and no one female.

So, what is the problem?

We may make some rationalizations like classic patriarchy excuses are: Females are more occupied with children then males (but, cf. Florance), women are more interested in some other things because of cultural background (I heard one interesting information: Yahoo Puzzle Pirates users are something like 60%-80% females) etc. But, all of those are just excuses for not thinking about our problems. We have to ask ourselves are we making some mistakes:

  • Is Wikimedian culture too aggressive?
  • Are male Wikimedians sexists?
  • Did we do anything to change the situation?
  • …?

I am a male and it is very possible that I am missing some questions and some answers. Because of that I decided to ask female members of our community what do they think about those questions. Here are some general questions, but, before I start with particular interviews I would like to hear are there some other important questions which I missed. (Any other suggestion is welcome, too. Note that I am not native English speaker and that grammar suggestions are more then welcome.)

  • If you think that some of the questions are too private, you have three options: (1) not to answer to them, (2) to decide to fill this questionnaire anonymously (however, I have to know who you are) or (3) 1+2.
  • Note that I want to publish your answers on my blog and/or inside of some relevant Wikimedian place (Wikinews, Wikizine, ?).
  • How long you are involved in Wikimedian projects?
  • Do you have some of the privileges on projects: admin, bureaucrat, checkuser, oversight, steward? (You don’t need to tell what privileges you have.)
  • If you have some of them, do you think that you gain them easier or harder because you are female or you think that it was not relevant?
  • By your opinion, what is the main reason of small relative number of women on Wikimedian projects?
  • Do you think that your communication with the rest of the (particular and global) community is easier or harder because you are female or you think that it is not relevant?
  • If you were in some decision-making process, do you think that your opinion (not) passed easier or harder because you are female or you think that it was not relevant?
  • Do you think that Wikimedian culture is sexist?
  • Have you ever been insulted on sexual/gender basis? If you did, how often is it happening?
  • By your opinion, are there some positive examples and positive trends in Wikimedian communities toward better involvement of females in contributing to Wikimedian projects?
  • What do you think that it should be done to change the situation?
  • By your opinion, what are the most important issues which should be solved to make better involvement of women in contributing to Wikimedian projects?
  • Do you think that there are some other important questions related to this issue? If so, please tell them and try to give an answer to them.

Please, write your questions as comments or send them to me via email (millosh@gmail.com). After a week or two I’ll conclude the list of questions and I’ll send them to female contributors. Also, please suggest to me female contributors which you think that should fill this questionnaire (here or via email). If you are sending to me an email with comments and/or questions, please tell me if you don’t want to be mentioned as a person who helped me in making this questionnaire. (This is particularly important for potential females who want to answer to questionnaire anonymously!)


~ by millosh on September 27, 2007.

8 Responses to “Women and Wikimedian projects”

  1. Brianna told me that I was not so clear that I am not asking for answers yet. In this stage I would like to get input from anyone who thinks that may help in defining questions.

  2. And one more note: Goran said to me that a woman was a president of Serbia. Yes, I know that. Natasa Micic was an acting president of Serbia, but not elected.

    A good point is that no one said anything against woman as president. However, I still wouldn’t bet that some woman would be an elected president of Serbia.

  3. I’ll link to this in a couple of blogs. Maybe we could build this survey on a wiki! It would certainly be handy.

  4. Yes, wiki is the best way for collaborative work 🙂 My friend who is studying sociology finished exams for October yesterday and I sent to him an email with this link. He will help us for making a good questionnaire(s). Also, I think that there are more sociologists and psychologists around…

    I still want to make ordinary (journalist) interviews and to publish them on Wikinews and/or here. I am more interested in personal stories then in statistics, but I realized that we need to do some science here because only that may give facts into hands for fighting the problem.

    If you want, it would be good that you make a page on Meta. And if you are not, I would be able to make it during the next week.

  5. […] Hi, this is a set of questions for an interview. I want to interview as more as possible women who are participating in Wikimedia projects. For the background, please, take a look at the post on my blog. […]

  6. For the record, the chairperson of Wikimedia Netherlands is a woman, and the secretary too. The leader of the Italian communty is a woman (Frieda). Just thought to point out that it is interesting that although women in general may not be very present in the projects, they are very present in the organisation.

  7. I didn’t know for WM NL and I forgot for Frieda. This fact is very interesting and it is present from the first (partially) elected WMF Board (Angela and Florence). As well as you are leading for a long time maybe the most important committee.

    I would like to know why is it so… (There are a couple of standard answers, but I don’t think that any of them fits.)

  8. very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

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