Communications/YouGov survey on women and Wikipedia

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Full survey report

The Wikimedia Foundation Communications department is interested in research that will inform strategic outreach and awareness-building among groups that are underrepresented on Wikipedia. To collect and share all the world’s knowledge, we need all the world’s people to feel welcomed and able to contribute. To that end, we selected YouGov, a respected market research group that has previously worked with large organizations and government agencies, to help us understand familiarity and attitudes about Wikipedia in a variety of regions around the world. We surveyed respondents in 6 countries across 6 languages. The questions focused on respondents’ attitudes towards Wikipedia, with a focus on how gender may or may not impact users’ participation and perceptions of the site’s value.

The full survey report is available on Wikimedia Commons.

MethodologyEdit

This online survey took place over from 14th February - 5th March 2019 in which respondents were asked to answer 7 questions in an online survey - 6 questions had pre-selected answer options, and 1 question had an open response field. A roughly equal number of men and women respondents participated in each region. Respondents came from a range of age groups above 18. The study was completed in the most widely spoken language in the region:

  • United States - English (n=1,250)
  • Mexico - Spanish (n=1,003)
  • Nigeria - English (n=400)
  • Egypt - Arabic (n=1,029)
  • Germany - German (n=2,117)
  • India - Hindi (n=1,067)

Note: Due to requirements for surveys in Germany, German respondents had the option of selecting an “I don’t know / I’m not sure” response. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 6,866 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th February - 5th March 2019.  The survey was carried out online. The figures that have been weighted were in the US, Mexico, India, Egypt, and Germany and are representative of all adults in those countries (aged 18+). Results in Nigeria were unweighted.

Key survey highlightsEdit

  • Overall, awareness and trust of Wikipedia are extremely high. 97% of surveyed respondents were familiar with Wikipedia. Of that group, 87% expressed trust in it.
  • According to respondents, men and women have heard of Wikipedia in nearly equal numbers. 97% of women and men reported being aware of Wikipedia. Of those survey respondents who were aware of Wikipedia, men and women also reported using Wikipedia in equal numbers (83% of men and women).
  • More men have tried editing Wikipedia at least once than women, with the percentage across all survey regions standing at 27% of men compared to just 21% of women reporting having edited Wikipedia.
  • The difference between the number of men who have edited at least once versus the number of women who have edited at least once was larger in the United States (20% of men to 14% of women having edited at least once) and Germany (17% of men to 9% of women) than in Nigeria (42% of men to 39% of women) and Egypt (31% of men to 28% of women). Region by region, editing participation correlated with higher rates of trust in Wikipedia.
  • When asked how meaningful Wikipedia is to women, more men than women across the survey regions responded that Wikipedia was meaningful to women. Phrased another way, more men think that Wikipedia is meaningful to women than women do. In the results across all survey regions, 74% of men categorized Wikipedia as “very” or “somewhat” meaningful to women, compared to 68% of women.

Regional highlightsEdit

United StatesEdit

The vast majority of survey respondents in the United States have heard of Wikipedia (97% of men and 99% of women).

Among Wikipedia users, 20% of men have edited Wikipedia at least once; only 14% of women have. A higher percentage of men (20%) trust Wikipedia “a great deal” than women (14%). A higher percentage of men (40%) said they found Wikipedia very useful when compared to women (33%). A higher percentage of men (19%) also said they thought Wikipedia was meaningful to women compared to women (14%).

GermanyEdit

Awareness of Wikipedia was also high in Germany; 98% of men and 97% of women reported that they had heard of Wikipedia.

17% of male Wikipedia users had edited Wikipedia at least once, compared to 9% of women. 22% of men said they trusted Wikipedia a great deal, compared to 16% of women. 53% of men said they found Wikipedia very useful, compared to 42% of women. A higher percentage of men (16%) also said they thought Wikipedia was meaningful to women compared to women (11%).

NigeriaEdit

In Nigeria, almost everyone reported having heard of Wikipedia; 0% of male respondents and 1% of female respondents said they had never heard of Wikipedia.

Amongst those who had used Wikipedia, 42% of men had edited Wikipedia at least once, compared to 39% of women. 64% of men said they trusted Wikipedia a great deal, compared to 71% of women. 85% of men said they found Wikipedia very useful, compared to 86% of women. A lower percentage of men (57%) said they thought Wikipedia was very meaningful, to women compared to women (62%).

IndiaEdit

In India, most respondents had heard of Wikipedia; 4% each of men and women said they had never heard of Wikipedia.

Amongst Wikipedia users, 39% of men had edited Wikipedia at least once, compared to 30% of women. 59% of men said they trusted Wikipedia a great deal, compared to 52% of women. 75% of men said they found Wikipedia very useful, compared to 66% of women. A higher percentage of men (46%) said they thought Wikipedia was meaningful to women, compared to women (40%).

EgyptEdit

In Egypt, most respondents had heard of Wikipedia; 4% of men said they had never heard of it, compared to 7% of women.

Amongst Wikipedia users, 31% of men had edited Wikipedia at least once, compared to 28% of women. 35% of men said they trusted Wikipedia a great deal, compared to 37% of women. 52% of men said they found Wikipedia very useful, compared to 53% of women. A lower percentage of men (29%) said they thought Wikipedia was meaningful to women, compared to women (31%).

MexicoEdit

In Mexico, most respondents had heard of Wikipedia; 2% each of men and women said they had never heard of Wikipedia.

Among Wikipedia users, 34% of men had edited Wikipedia at least once, compared to 30% of women. 40% of men said they trusted Wikipedia a great deal, compared to 42% of women. 59% of men said they found Wikipedia very useful, compared to 62% of women. A higher percentage of men (40%) said they thought Wikipedia was meaningful to women compared to women (35%).

AnalysisEdit

The YouGov survey results can provide additional insight into differences between editing Wikipedia among men and women, but also the perceptions surrounding how men and women use and find meaning in it.

Interestingly, we see that fewer women have ever tried to edit Wikipedia at least once, suggesting that we not only need to consider retaining women as editors on Wikipedia, but actively find ways to recruit and invite more women into the platform, as many community groups and projects already aim to do.

The differences in men’s and women’s responses to the question of “How meaningful is Wikipedia for women?” also reiterates that perception is different based on life experience and identity; simply guessing at the lived experience of another group will not always be accurate, and continuing to ask women and nonbinary editors about their experiences with the platform can help provide a more complete picture.