, Volume 78, Issue 6, pp 981–996 | Cite as

Gender and the GeoWeb: divisions in the production of user-generated cartographic information

  • Monica StephensEmail author


The GeoWeb presents an opportunity to expand the array of potential contributors describing the earth through digital geographic information. However, the adoption of user-generated geographic information has not been uniform, resulting in an uneven distribution of content and more nuanced digital divides. This paper uses a survey of Internet users to measure the gender divide in the contributions of cartographic information to the Internet and examine the impact of this divide within the context of OpenStreetMap and Google MapMaker. This paper argues that in both publicly available basemaps the gender divide results in men serving as the gatekeepers of local knowledge leading to gendered user-generated representations. As these digital basemaps are reproduced and utilized by almost every mobile application or web-based map, the gender divisions in the creators and content are endlessly reproduced.


GeoWeb Volunteered geographic information VGI Prosumer OpenStreetMap (OSM) Google maps User-generated content Gender 



Volunteered geographic information





I would like to extend my gratitude to Antonella Rondinone for her assistance with the survey. Matthew Zook, Matthew Wilson and Agnieszka Leszczynski contributed excellent ideas that improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyHumboldt State UniversityArcataUSA

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