May 10, 2016


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Sen. Rand Paul Uncovers $70,000 NSF Study Investigating the Gender of Wikipedia’s Contributors


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rand Paul today released the latest edition of ‘The Waste Report,’ which is an ongoing project cataloguing egregious examples of waste within the U.S. government.

In the latest edition of ‘The Waste Report,’ Sen. Paul uncovers the National Science Foundation (NSF) spending $70,000 taxpayer dollars to fund a New York University study investigating the gender gap among contributors to the free online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. 


‘The Waste Report’ can be found HERE or below. 

Have a question? Often Wikipedia has an answer. But if your question is, “why is the federal government spending $70k to study gender disparity among Wikipedia contributors,” you might get back, “results not found: did you mean ‘government waste?’”


That’s right! The National Science Foundation (NSF) spent $70,000 funding a New York University study to investigate the gender gap among contributors to Wikipedia. If you are not familiar, Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia where, “[a]nyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles.”  


According to Wikipedia, it is true that only about 13 percent of their regular contributors are female. However, there is no measurement for how much content female Wikipedians contribute or provide.   


What is clear is that whether male or female, a small minority of users provide any content to Wikipedia – just 25 percent ever make edits or contributions and 0.004 percent of users are classified as regular contributors, which still only requires one edit every 30 days. Nonetheless, all users can edit content if they so choose, meaning this is an issue of self-selection. 


Even under tighter budgets, NSF has seen a 22 percent increase in funding since President Obama took office. This year’s budget asks for nearly $8 billion to support this agency, stating:


“NSF is vital because we invest in basic research and people who make the discoveries that transform our future. Those discoveries are a primary driver of the U.S. economy, enhance our Nation’s security, and give the country the competitive edge to remain a global leader.” 


One has to wonder where the study of gender disparity among Wikipedia contributors fits in.