Skimming through a paper on cultural differences in editing the Wikipedia, I am baffled at the following:

The higher the MAS [masculinity index] of a country, the more contributions in the categories Add Information and Clarify Information are found. Although we did not predict this outcome, a possible explanation could be that in countries with a relatively higher MAS (e.g., Japan), success and progress are more important than in countries with a lower MAS (Hofstede, 1991).

I hadn’t heard of masculinity indexes before, so obviously had to re-skim the bit of the paper explaining them:

Masculinity, according to Hofstede, “pertains to societies in which social gender roles are clearly distinct (i.e., men are supposed to be assertive, tough, and focused on material success whereas women are supposed to be more modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life). Femininity, in contrast, “pertains to societies in which social gender roles overlap (i.e., both men and women are supposed to be modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life)” (Hofstede, 1991, pp. 82-83).

The Masculinity Index (MAS) describes the extent to which a country tends to be masculine. In countries with a high MAS, it is valued to be ambitious, successful, and assertive (Hofstede, 1991). In countries with a low MAS, relationships with other people and the preservation of the environment are important (Hofstede, 1991).

A little odd, but odder still: this index was based on observations made (of IBM employees in 70 countries) between 1967 and 1973. I should jolly well hope gender relations have come along a bit since them.

It’s interesting to see any kind of cross-cultural analysis of wikipedia use – though surely there are more recent measures of cultural differences than the ones this paper uses, from 1967-73.

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