The Wikipedia Gender Gap Revisited: Characterizing Survey Response Bias with Propensity Score Estimation
Opt-in surveys are the most widespread method used to study participation in online communities, but produce biased results in the absence of adjustments for non-response. A 2008 survey conducted by the Wikimedia Foundation and United Nations University at Maastricht is the source of a frequently cited statistic that less than 13% of Wikipedia contributors are female. However, the same study suggested that only 39.9% of Wikipedia readers in the US were female – a finding contradicted by a representative survey of American adults by the Pew Research Center conducted less than two months later. Combining these two datasets through an application and extension of a propensity score estimation technique used to model survey non-response bias, we construct revised estimates, contingent on explicit assumptions, for several of the Wikimedia Foundation and United Nations University at Maastricht claims about Wikipedia editors. We estimate that the proportion of female US adult editors was 27.5% higher than the original study reported (22.7%, versus 17.8%), and that the total proportion of female editors was 26.8% higher (16.1%, versus 12.7%).