Women have a grudge with Wikipedia?

Written by
  • 6 years ago
  • Posted: October 19, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Women in Science have complained about Wikipedia. There bone of contention?

1. Wikipedia has recruited less than 20% women editors
2. There are hardly any Wikipedia pages about women scientists

I want to say before hand that this article is in no way intended to question women’s ability in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) but to question whether lack of interest on the part of majority of women in these fields should be an issue at all. I also want to question whether valuing things that inherently attract more men than women as superior to things that inherently attract more women than men is fair.

Having said that, let us examine the grudges women scientists have with Wikipedia.

1. Wikipedia editors is constituted by less than 20% women

I do not think this is a valid complain from the women scientists. My reason for saying this is in the sense that as matter of practice, anyone is technically a Wikipedia editor given that anyone is allowed to create and edit Wikipedia articles. Secondly, according this article, the process of becoming a Wikipedia editor is generally straight forward. I’m not privy on how individuals finally get enrolled to be part of Wikipedia editorial community but I know if as many women as possible “applied” through the stipulated processes, then as many could have been qualified into the editorial community.

I think one thing that has served women right but might now lead to their downfall is the affirmative action. Affirmative action demands that special groups that have been disadvantaged before should receive some “favors” in order to catch up. However, if the recipient of affirmative action is not careful, then he/she (as an individual or as a group) might develop a sense of laxity whenever competitive processes are required for achieving any objectives.

There are things that will take a very long time to whitewash and one of them is the general view, most of which subconscious, that men are better in STEM. This also relates to the subconscious racial views most some white folks have on black folks. Despite this subconscious racism that cannot be wiped out, to a large extent the black community in largely white society like in the US and Europe have learned how to excel in absence of affirmative action.

2. There are hardly any Wikipedia pages about women scientists

I won’t comment a lot here but only advice the women scientists to go out and create the Wikipedia content that they want created. It is time for women to stop ranting and move into action, some of which do not require any intervention from the society as a whole. Once women start achieving big goals competitively, the society will be left with nothing but to appreciate, inherently, the capabilities of women in whatever fields they venture into.

Women have shown strong successes in all fields ranging from theoretical and pure physics to mathematics to engineering and to rocket science. The achievements Marissa Mayer in Yahoo is a modern example of how far women can go in tech. Women who for one reason or another do not want to be interested in tech despite their capabilities should have Marissa as their role model.

Also, instead of complaining, women already in science and tech should do whatever it is they have to do, including creating content that encourage women to pursue careers that have been considered the domain of men, in order to continue eliciting interest in women for these careers and ventures.

Affirmative action and how far we can go

As already mentioned, fact is that women are not so much inclined into STEM compared to the male counterparts. If I were to use my 11 months old boy’s interest in laptop, smartphones, TV, and cars against my neighbor’s 17 months old daughter lack of interest in all these, then there is a possibility that interest in STEM could be genetically gender biased. What this means is that however much affirmative action we can champion, there is a possibility we will never have gender equality in STEM (in terms of numbers). This is also true in games like soccer and other male dominated sports.

My issue with the society is the classification of “things” that interest men as superior. There is nothing superior in soccer when compared to soap operas, both are multi-billion industries. I do not understand the criteria that makes physics a superior discipline to let’s say Economics (rigor in mathematics is almost equal), or that rates biology superior to psychology. What makes chemistry any better than communication skills studies?¬†When it comes to career, aren’t journalists better off than most mechanical engineers? The difference between a mjengo guy and the lady who cooks for him is that the lady uses less physical energy but makes more money.

I do believe that careers that are generally intended to have immediate impact on society (social sciences) have as much value as careers that develop tools to be used in the humanitarian endeavors. I do not think that a physicist who invented the X-Ray is any superior to a medic who uses the X-Ray to diagnose killer diseases and cure them.

What I’m saying is that let the society let women pursue there interests whatever these interests are without downgrading them as inferior. I’ve been a home dad on several occasions when my wife has to go to the field to look for means to feed the family and believe me, the task of raising a kid is harder than solving Algebraic combinatorics (I don’t know what that means).

All said and done, I call upon our dear women to start pursuing progress outside of affirmative action. Women (and men) should also stop this notion that male dominated fields are any superior. To me, what is superior is how much money one can make in any field.

What is your opinion on the topic?
Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Analytics Ltd
Film Director, Tech and Business Blogger, Chess Player, and Photographer. God is Science.
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