Hi Marielle,

Thanks for your comments, and for pointing out that one of the more detailed reports from the UNU survey, i.e. 


did break down the number of contributors with children according to gender (I took my figures from the overview). I'll add a corresponding correction to our post later. 

However, the figure given there, 13.7%, is not very different from the overall average of 14.72%. In fact, it is lower, and thus using the combined figure I would actually have slightly overestimated the percentage of mothers.

The source for the 8.5% figure is of course linked in the article. It is the Wikimedia Foundation's own April 2011 survey. The link is


The quote ("Our editing community continues to suffer from a lack of women editors. The survey provided an even starker view of this than previous studies (only 8.5% of editors are women).") was a verbatim from page 3 of the WMF report.

I will have to look into Hill & Shaw, but would note that the Wikimedia Foundation itself reported the figures from the UNU survey as they stood (see e.g. p. 8 of the February 2011 Strategic Plan: "According to the study, over 86% of contributors were male"). 


On Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 4:52 PM, Marielle Volz <marielle.volz@gmail.com> wrote:
The math behind that little statistic was so terrible I had to write a
blog post about it.


First off, in their blog post, Andreas & Collida multiply the
percentage of contributor respondents who were women (12.64%) by the
percentage of all respondents (contributor and reader, male and
female) who were parents- 14.72%-  while seemingly missing that the
study in fact provided a breakdown of this: 13.7% of all female
respondents were parents. (15.1% of the male respondents were).

Secondly, Andreas & Collida cherry pick a lower bound number for women
contributors (8.5%) (source unkown) and presented the number from the
survey (12.64%) as an upper bound. A literature search gave me an
upper bound of 16.1% from Hill & Shaw.

Furthermore, the source Andreas & Collida used contained biased
statistics. The original  WMF/UNU-MERIT report had no methods section
and didn’t control for sampling bias. The Hill & Shaw paper  controls
for sample bias based on a survey by Pew, which used better sampling

Hill & Shaw tried to control for the survey’s selection bias and found
that they “estimate that females, married people, and individuals with
children were underrepresented in the  WMF/UNU-MERIT sample while
immigrants and students were overrepresented.”

This means that the two statistics Andreas & Collida chose to multiply
together; female editors/contributors and males and females with
children- were *both* underestimates in the WMF/UNU-MERIT survey.

Hill & Shaw provide the adjusted numbers for these accordingly; they
estimate that 16.1% of contributors (as opposed to 12.64%) are female,
and that 25.3% have children. We can perform a similar analysis as
Andreas & Collida using those adjusted numbers by multiplying them, a
result of about 4.1%- more than double their highest estimate.

Of course, this number is also flawed; we don’t have the actual
breakdown of what percentage of female contributors have children, and
instead are multiplying aggregate numbers. A better estimate could be
obtained by redoing Hill & Shaw‘s analysis on the raw dataset.

On Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 9:14 PM, Tim Davenport <shoehutch@gmail.com> wrote:
> There is a new blog post up on Wikipedia-criticism site Wikipediocracy that
> should be of interest to this list.
> Andreas Kolbe with Nathalie Collida, "Why Women Have No Time For Wikipedia:
> Thoughts on the Online Encyclopedia's Gender Imbalance."
> http://wikipediocracy.com/2014/08/26/why-women-have-no-time-for-wikipedia/
> One interesting assertion made by the authors in their lengthy essay is that
> fewer than 1 in 50 WP contributors is a mother:
> "It is sometimes argued that women simply have less time to contribute to
> Wikipedia, due to family commitments. This is a fallacy. Firstly, the United
> Nations University survey found that only 33.29% of respondents had a
> partner, and only 14.72% had children. The difference between readers and
> contributors was negligible here, and the survey report did not indicate any
> difference in these percentages for male and female respondents. It is
> patently obvious that girls and women in the age groups that are most
> strongly represented in Wikipedia’s demographics typically do not yet have
> families of their own. Their lack of participation is unrelated to their
> being bogged down by family responsibilities.
> "Of course, these figures also tell us something else: if only 14.72% of
> contributors have children, and the percentage of female contributors lies
> somewhere between 8.5% and 12.64%, then it looks like only 1.25%–1.86% of
> Wikipedia contributors are mothers.
> "That is less than 1 in 50."
> Tim Davenport
> "Carrite" on WP /// "Randy from Boise" on WPO
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