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Gender Biases in Cyberspace: A Two-Stage Model, the New Arena of Wikipedia and Other Websites

June 30, 2017 by Shlomit Yanisky-Ravid, Amy Mittelman

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Increasingly, there has been a focus on creating democratic standards and norms in order to best facilitate open exchange of information and communication online - a goal that fits neatly within the feminist aim to democratize content creation and community. Collaborative website, such as blogs, social networks and, as focused on in this article, Wikipedia, represent both a cyberspace community entirely outside the structures of the traditional (intellectual) proprietary paradigm and one that professes and truly embodies the philosophy of a completely open, free, and democratic resource for all. In theory, collaborative websites are the solution for which social activists, intellectual property opponents, and feminist theorists have been waiting. Unfortunately, we are now realizing that this utopian dream does not exist as anticipated: the Internet is neither neutral nor open to everyone. More importantly, these websites are not egalitarian; rather, they facilitate new ways to exclude and subordinate women. This article innovatively argues that the virtual world excludes women in two stages: first, by conrrolling websites and filtering out women; and second, by exposing women who survived the first stage as a hostile environment. Wikipedia, as well as other cyber-space environments, dmeonstrates the execution of the model, which results in the exclusion of women from the virtual sphere with all the implications thereof.