Revisited: WikiWomen

05 May, 2014

Revisited: WikiWomen

In April, the Berkeley Center for New Media hosted the university’s first Wikipedia edit-a-thon, facilitated by Susan B. Miller Fellow Sarah Stierch. This event focused on improving coverage on Wikipedia, the world’s 5th most popular website, about women and women’s history, and also encouraging more women to contribute to the website. Approximately 20 attendees came together to learn the basics about how to contribute to, and make, for many of them, their first edits to Wikipedia.

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.