On Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 10:28 AM, Nathan <nawr...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Can you describe how specific engineering projects are helping to address
> the gender gap? Do you typically review user-facing projects with the
> gender gap specifically in mind? I notice that while there is a FOSS
> outreach program for women, there is nothing specific in the Wikimania
> Hackathon materials to suggest that an effort was made to attract women to
> this event. There is another hackathon planned for early next year - will
> engineering make the gender gap part of the goals of that event?

Dear Nathan,

Thanks for asking this question, and thanks to Sumana for the pointers
to good places for deeper conversations.

At a high level, I think we need to be careful not to over-mandate
engineering. Building a great experience for editing and discussion
and testing it against a representative demographic cross-section is
in itself a very complex undertaking (especially when doing so in the
wonderful world of wikitext), without "And it also needs to increase
the %/# of women participating in our projects" as a specific measure
of success for each feature. I do want us to get better at more
quickly and frequently capturing the demographic baseline data so we
can at least understand the trends better. Quick, lightweight survey
tools are high on the wishlist for a lot of folks, and we'll think
about when/how to prioritize that in the overall roadmap.

Where I see some of the strongest potential to actually engage
under-represented groups is in the area of task recommendations.
Whenever we build systems that suggest things to do to new users,
we're making implicit value judgments about what kinds of work we
consider to be important. I think it's reasonable in this context to
consider factors such as the under-representation of a topic area in
the encyclopedia, which may draw in potential content contributors
familiar with that topic specifically, and in turn counter systemic
bias both in topic coverage and participation.


Erik Möller
VP of Engineering and Product Development, Wikimedia Foundation

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