Feminists at several institutions around the country are hosting Wikipedia “Edit-a-thon” events in an attempt to correct perceived biases against women on the site due to the significant amount of male editors.
According to the Edit-a-thon event organizers, less than 10 percent of all Wikipedia editors are women. As a result, some feminists have grown concerned that such a gender imbalance could result in bias against women on the site.
“Wikipedia’s gender trouble is well-documented. In a 2011 survey, the Wikimedia Foundation found that less than 10% of its contributors identify as women,” a group at Oberlin College claims, “This represents an alarming absence in an important repository of shared knowledge.”
To respond to the “gender gap” amongst Wikipedia editors, academics and students at institutions around the country have organized Edit-a-thon events to encourage young females to research, add, and correct content on the topics of “art and feminism” on Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia itself, an Edit-a-thon event involves a group effort focusing on editing a particular topic on the online encyclopedia, while also typically training new editors in using the site. Wikipedia allows any user to edit articles either using an account or anonymously.
Rachel Simone Weil, an art and art history lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin, argued that the Edit-A-Thon events seek to fill in the gaps that might exist on Wikipedia due to the overwhelming amount of male editors.
“The intent is not to disproportionately overstate the roles of women or downplay the achievements of men through a malicious rewriting of history,” she explained. “Rather, this project seeks to revisit gaps in scholarship and canonical history — places in which the accounts of women’s contributions to society may, for one reason or another, simply not exist.”
A similar event was held at Bucknell University on March 3. A page describing the event argued that Wikipedia content is “skewed” as a result of the overwhelming amount of male contributors: “Content is skewed by the lack of female participation, creating imbalance in this increasingly important repository of shared knowledge.”
Similar events were held at Temple University and the University of the Arts, both in Philadelphia.
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about education and social justice for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org