by Vivek
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WIGI – An Inspire Grantee

Assessing gender gap on Wikipedia

The Wikipedia Indicators of Gender Inequality (WIGI) project aims to study and characterize gender representation on Wikipedia by studying trends in growth of biography articles. The project is led by Maximilian Klein, a PhD student at the University of Minnesota, and Dr. Piotr Konieczny.

We aim to use Wikidata knowledge-base, which contains structured metadata about each Wikipedia article, to develop indicators that measure gender representation and can identify gender gaps that need to be systematically addressed by the Wikipedia community.

Read our proposal.

The infographic below presents our hypothesis with some pilot data that we have accumulated so far in an effort to showcase what can be done.

An infographic showing some indicators of gender trends in Wikipedia biography articles, which is much easier to measure and reliable.

Designed by Francis Soong.


The obvious question that arises here is that why should we investigate the trends in the gender of biography articles instead of the trends in editorship, that is, observing the gender of the active editors on the Wikipedia. Although, it is entirely possible that the editor-gender and article-gender may not be related, a pilot research that analyzed the biography gender gap by date of birth, citizenship, and language suggests that these metrics correlate well with historical census data, for example.

As Max quotes in his blog post,

Over the last six months along with fellow Wikipedians we prototyped and extended this research into a paper Gender Gap Through Time and Space: A Journey Through Wikipedia Biographies and the ‘WIGI’ Index

The initial results in the manuscript look quite promising and offer promising insights on worldwide longitudinal gender inequality trends.

However, these results were discussed only for a single snapshot in time and to extend this research required further time and effort in form of a dedicated team. With the help of a $22,500 funding from Wikipedia Inspire Grant, the project has received a major impetus to implement a data portal that will display the visualizations of the state of gender in biographies by sampling the data on weekly basis and offer insightful statistical analyses.

The ultimate goal being to raise awareness of the gender gap using statistical and quantitative means.

I’ve been fortunate enough to discover the project during its formulation period and to be a part of it as a developer and research team member. The project is open to contribution and available entirely on github.