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Jarvis Coffin

Jarvis Coffin

Posted: September 3, 2009 10:19 AM

Important and Unimportant Imbalances in the World


This is interesting: MediaPost referred to a report in the Digits Blog of the Wall Street Journal yesterday that says of 53,000 qualified respondents who said they contribute to Wikipedia only 6,814 of them - 13% - were women.

A commenter to the blog, Drew, made this observation:

This is significant because Wikipedia is in the top 10 most visited sites on the Internet, meaning that lots of people are going there to get their information. The beauty of Wikipedia is that it's neutrality on subjects is ideally balanced by an editing population that reflects the actual population of the Earth. With such a gender imbalance, the perspective of a significant part of the world's population is being marginalized.

I have a feeling that the perspective of the world has been at risk of imbalance throughout history. It is unlikely that the digital world has done anything to change the ratio of men vs. women chronicling all our endeavors and discoveries.

The explanation is easy: women are too busy. Plus, they're not quite as caught-up in themselves. They don't derive the satisfaction that men do from sitting around in their shorts, swilling swill and swapping war stories. Another commenter alluded to their practical side:

If Wikipedia would allow payment for the type of skills it requires to actually get through the complicated procedure of publishing accurate articles on their site, maybe they could utilize the amazing workforce of women out there who are struggling to compensate their husband's dwindling incomes and 401k's by working from home.

This is precisely the sort of clear-thinking that has pushed the world to its great endeavors and accomplishments. The men then cozy-up to the fire and write about it. The women continue on by making 80% of the world's purchase decisions.

Such are the important and unimportant imbalances that ultimately matter to the real world.

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