Diversifying Wikipedia’s U.S. editors

The vision of the Wikimedia universe is to collect “the sum of all human knowledge”. But that’s hard to do when, as the latest Wikimedia Community Insights Report shows, your core community of contributors fails to reflect the spectrum of human diversity.

In particular, the report concludes that “In the United States, Black and Hispanic contributors continued to be severely underrepresented among active editors compared to the US population”. Wiki Education is one of the organizations in the Wikimedia movement looking to change that.

According to the report, while 11.6% of the U.S. population is Black or African American, only 1.1% of U.S. editors identify as Black or African-American. In Wiki Education’s participant demographic surveys from the 2022-23 academic year, 11.8% of our student editors identify as Black or African-American, at parity with the U.S. demographics.

And while only 3.6% of U.S. editors identify as Hispanic or Latino/a/x — in contrast to 19% of the U.S. population — 15% of Wiki Education’s student editors do.
chart showing race and ethnicity of Wiki Education participants vs US Wikipedia editors vs US population

These demographic contrasts also mark increases from our data two years ago, when our 8% of our student editors identified as Black or African-American and 12% identified as Hispanic or Latino/a/x. Since then, Wiki Education has focused specifically on outreach to more diverse institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). Some of these initiatives have focused on biographies, but not all. Our Equity Outreach Coordinator, Andrés Vera, describes how he engages faculty at diverse institutions and why this changes Wikipedia — and students’ lives — for the better. Andrés conducts regular teaching with Wikipedia webinars, encouraging faculty who teach at diverse institutions to add their knowledge to Wikipedia.

Wikipedia doesn’t just have gaps in race and ethnicity, however — it also has a well-documented gender gap. The most recent Community Insights report indicated the editing community is 80% male, 13% women, and 4% gender diverse (with 4% who preferred not to say). Wiki Education’s own program participant demographics tell a very different tale: only 37% of our student editors are male, with 57% and 5% gender diverse.

Through our work, Wiki Education is proud to bring more diverse contributors to Wikipedia — contributors who can add their knowledge and perspectives, so we can create a more diverse “sum of all human knowledge”.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.