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Gender blindspots on Wikipedia?


As a student of Harvard Business School, I have chosen to evaluate its Wikipedia’s entry. Below is an honest assessment.

Neutrality and Completeness

I find this entry surprising brief – much shorter than what I recall reading a while ago. Upon checking the revision history, I realized the “History” and “Academic Programs” sections were completely removed a month ago because the language was considered too promotional. Reading a previous version, these sections do sound like marketing language, although a better decisions could have been made by the editors to revise the language instead of deleting entire sections. As a result, essential information such as the school’s mission statement, prominent initiatives (e.g., New Venture Competition), features of its new curriculum, and the teaching method have been omitted. The editors collected decided to value neutrality over completeness.

Neutrality speaking, I am quite impressed that the names of two of the most infamous alumni have remained on the list of “Notable alumni” with a short description of their convictions: Rajat Gupta (“convicted of insider trading in the Galleon Group case.”) and Jeffrey Skilling (“convicted of securities fraud and insider trading”).

Gender Bias?

Of the 100 names featured in the “Notable alumni” list, sadly, only 15 of them are women. I looked up a few “most influential women” lists on the web as well as the speaker list of the HBS women summit I attended earlier this year, and instantly identified a few prominent female alumni who should be included. They are arguably more prominent than some of the male alumni on the existing list; I wonder if there is something to do with the fact that 90% of Wikipedia editors are male.

I made an edit in the Wiki entry – adding five notable female alumni to the list.

COV.10.28.13.FINAL.inddkaren millsccanapbmaryce

* [[Sheryl Sandberg]], ’95 – COO of [[Facebook]]
* [[Karen Mills]], ’77 – 23rd Administrator of the [[Small Business Administration]]
* [[Cynthia Carroll]], ’89 – former CEO of [[Anglo American PLC]]
* [[Ana Patricia Botín]] – CEO of Santander UK
* [[Mary Callahan Erdoes]], ’93 – CEO of [[J.P. Morgan Asset Management]]


Another section deleted earlier was due to the lack of citations; the paragraph describes the school’s facilities in details (e.g., red-brick buildings, chapel, etc.). Even thought the description is accurate as I can verify in person, there is no reliable source online that the Wiki entry can reference to verify. While the practice of referencing an existing source is makes sense, we are also omitting new or little know facts that have not  been documented elsewhere (in this case, the architectural details of the HBS campus).

Overall, the references cited has a rather narrow range. Over half of the references directly to HBS official website. The rest of the references point to news article ranking MBA Programs.

My user page is here.

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This entry was posted on December 2, 2013 by .
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