Elsevier, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, (160), p. 115-130, 2020
This paper studies the conversations behind the operations of a large-scale, online knowledge production community: Wikipedia. We investigate gender differences in the conversational styles (emotionality) and conversational domain choices (controversiality and gender stereotypicality of content) among contributors, and how these differences change as we look up the organizational hierarchy. In the general population of contributors, we expect and find significant gender differences, whereby comments and statements from women are higher-valenced, have more affective content, and are in domains that are less controversial and more female-typed. Importantly, these differences diminish or disappear among people in positions of power: female authorities converge to the behavior of their male counterparts, such that the gender gaps in valence and willingness to converse on controversial content disappear. We find greater sorting into topics according to their gender stereotypicality. We discuss mechanisms and implications for research on gender differences, leadership behavior, and conversational phenomena arising from such large-scale forms of knowledge production.