Just 15% of Wikipedia contributors are women — and while this may be why Sex and the City gets a shorter entry than The Sopranos (not that we object to that), it has more important implications too.
According to the Times, Wikimedia Foundation executive director Sue Gardner hopes to increase women's participation in the online encyclopedia to 25% by 2015. The reason: "The difference between Wikipedia and other editorially created products is that Wikipedians are not professionals, they are only asked to bring what they know. Everyone brings their crumb of information to the table. If they are not at the table, we don't benefit from their crumb."
The Times offers numerous examples of lady-crumbs currently left off Wikipedia's table: SATC, friendship bracelets, and Manolo Blahnik all get relatively short shrift, and female novelist Pat Barker's entry is dwarfed by that of Niko Bellic, who is a character in Grand Theft Auto. Since Wikipedia is a go-to resource for everything from stoner score-settling to high school term-paper research — and a starting point for much actual journalism — it's a problem if its version of the knowable universe is a male-dominated one (I'd also guess that this comes up in less stereotypically girly ways than a dearth of info about Manolos). But it's equally important to think about why the site might be such a sausage party.
Jane Margolis, author of Unlocking the Clubhouse, tells the Times that Wikipedia's really just suffering from the same gender inequality as most "public thought-leadership forums" — including, say, the Times (or major highbrow magazines). Catherine Orenstein of the OpEd Project says women may be afraid to speak up: "When you are a minority voice, you begin to doubt your own competencies." It's true that in many public forums, women have to overcome prejudices in order to speak as authorities. But there may be a web-specific reason why men dominate Wikipedia: nerd culture.