Wikipedia has a gender problem

March 6, 2020 | Society, Arts & Culture

A 2011 survey commissioned by the free online encyclopedia’s Wikimedia Foundation revealed that although anyone can add content to the open-source resource, only 8.5 per cent of its contributors identified as female. Since 2014, more than 14,000 people around the world have attended edit-a-thons leading up to International Women’s Day to help bridge the Wikipedia gender gap. Contributors blitz the site with new entries (more than 58,000 since 2014) to reflect the work women are doing in the arts, sciences and beyond.

On March 5, a team of newly trained Wikipedia editors came together outside MacEwan University’s Mitchell Art Gallery (MAG) for Edmonton’s second Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon.

“The hope is that we can make a positive impact on the representation of womxn and gender non-confirming artists on Wikipedia,” says Carolyn Jervis, director of the Mitchell Art Gallery. “To empower people in our community with the skills to engage with Wikipedia: becoming editors, adding content and creating new pages in a friendly, inclusive environment.”

With help from a Wikimedia Foundation grant, collaborators from MAG, MacEwan’s Fine Art program and library partnered with the University of Alberta Library to offer Wikipedia editing tutorials, organize a panel discussion around open access and increasing gender-diverse representation on the platform, and to provide a child-friendly, all-ages art activities to make the event accessible.

Another focus of the edit-a-thon – to improve articles about Alberta artists – aligned perfectly with Kerri-Lynn Reeves’s ARTE 119: Introduction to Creative Research course. Throughout the Winter semester, the Fine Art program assistant professor’s class has been researching contemporary artists currently exhibiting in Edmonton. Students were encouraged to attend the edit-a-thon to translate what they had learned so far into a Wikipedia entry for their artists.

It’s a great way for students to see the ways that their new knowledge can have a tangible impact in the world outside the classroom, says Kerri-Lynn. “Not only are they improving an artist’s visibility on the internet, they can feel empowered to use their developing research skills to engage with how art is represented through the open source community.”



Women who lead 


Celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8 with some of our most recent stories about MacEwan University’s many strong women leaders:




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