Why do female editors leave Wikipedia? A qualitative analysis of gender bias in the Spanish Wikipedia


Wikipedia began in 2001 and already reaches more than 40 million articles in more than 300 languages. It is the main source of information for many users, especially in the educational field, where seven out of ten students recognize using Wikipedia. But even though Wikipedia promotes the ‘neutral point of view’ in its articles, it is well recognized that there is a gender bias, both in content (for example, in the number of articles on women in relation to those of men) in your community (the vast majority of registered publishers are men). The general feeling is that the Wikimedia Foundation has not achieved its goal of increasing the number of female participants to the 25% that was proposed for 2015.

Faced with this gender bias, we are investigating from a double perspective, on the one hand quantitative, analyzing the presence or absence of women and their behavior from the activity records associated with their profiles and, from a qualitative approach, studying the practices related to content production (creation and edition of articles) in the Wikipedia in Spanish. The results of qualitative research are presented in this communication. A content analysis of 12 interviews with publishers (4) and ex-editors (4 short-term editors and 4 long-term publishers) was carried out to investigate the reasons that led them to participate as publishers in Wikipedia and to non-persistence of activity in the same, examining the reasons raised according to their socio-demographic, educational context, in experiences of their work as editors, feelings and positioning in relation to feminism and their status as women.

Among the main results is that all ex-editors who have edited for a short period of time began to do so as a group, with a common project and with collective support and left the edition once the campaign ended. In all cases in which women acknowledge having abandoned the edition, the reason is related to a bad experience caused by “an abrupt environment”, an “environment that generates insecurity” and, in one case, by “gender conflict”. In the case of women who have continued to publish, all of them, among their themes, are content to make women visible, usually through biographies.

International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR 2019)


Ferran-Ferrer, N., Castellanos, P., Meneses, J., Fàbregues, S., Minguillón, J., & Aibar, E. (2019, July 9). Why do female editors leave Wikipedia? A qualitative analysis of gender bias in the Spanish Wikipedia. Paper presented at the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR 2019), Madrid. http://hdl.handle.net/10609/99188
Julio Meneses
Julio Meneses
Full Professor

Professor de metodologia de la investigació, director de Learning Analytics de l’eLearning Innovation Center i investigador de l’Internet Interdisciplinary Institute de la Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.