This event is one of many that happens frequently, around the world, to help close the gender gap on Wikipedia, a website that relies on volunteer contributors to create it’s vast free database of knowledge, and boasts a contributor base of approximately 80% male, many of which are Caucasian. This causes a systemic bias in the content and coverage related to not only women’s history and culture, but also more diverse subject areas including African American, Latino, and Native American subject areas.
The afternoon opened with Stierch giving a presentation about how people can contribute to Wikipedia, with a slight focus on academic contributors and how they can utilize academic and primary sources and still work within Wikipedia’s policies of notability, reliable secondary sourcing, conflict of interest, and verifiability. (The presentation is available for download here.) Stierch stressed the importance of being bold, being kind to other editors, and how social events, such as edit-a-thons, are great chances for women to come together and, in what Stierch describes as, “the 21st century sewing bee,” by editing Wikipedia in a social setting and making sure their interests are being represented on the world’s most popular information source.
Next, participants started researching subjects and editing Wikipedia, and would do so for the next three hours. Over 20 articles were created or improved on English Wikipedia, including:
• Martha Edelheit – an American born artist living in Sweden
• Teresa González de Fanning – Peruvian journalist and education activist
• Mindi Dickstein – American lyricist and librettist
• Dolores Richard Spikes – American mathematician and the first female president of a university system in the United States
You can read, and edit, additional articles created and improved at the event by visiting the Wikipedia event page, here.
Photo Credit: @shannonbadiee CC