• Michael Mandiberg


    Wikipedia Meets Feminism

    Women artists and historical figures have gotten short shrift on the Internet. It’s time to organize to fight that gender bias.

    Does your favorite female artist or historical figure have a Wikipedia page? Having an article on the world’s largest encyclopedia is a sign of cultural recognition and acknowledgement, but Wikipedia has left women out of accounts of major historical movements and art periodization.

    On Saturday, I was one of several co-organizers of the Wikipedia: Meetup/Art And Feminism at the Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in New York City, an event that sought to rectify gender prejudices in everyday Internet search results. More than 150 attendees focused on adding articles on and improving content about women artists. Some 30 other universities and arts institutions from San Francisco to Florence, Italy participated in the event remotely.



    87 Percent of Wikipedia Contributors Are Men

    Leads to a gap in content, female editors say.

    Wikipedia articles about women authors and activists are deleted—but pages about porn stars stay on the site, one female editor says. This might be because men still make up 87 percent of the online dictionary’s contributors, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales said at the annual Wikimania conference in Hong Kong. Efforts to encourage female editors to the site seem to have stalled, and Wikipedia plans to host a conference on encouraging diversity in November. When editor Sydney Poore started noticing a lack of women’s health articles on the site and was invited to be part of a Wikimedia committee—the only woman of the group—she said, “I felt like I was living in the 1980s.”


    Web Patrol

    Wikipedia’s Heroine

    Sarah Stierch keeps the world’s largest encyclopedia feminist friendly.

    A few statistics about the average Wikipedia editor have become widely known in recent years: He (because he is a “he”) is college-educated, 30 years old, and computer savvy. Nothing against these fellas, who work tirelessly to make sure the general public can access open-source information, but it never hurts to have a few women in the picture. Enter Sarah Stierch. The editor, who holds degrees in museum studies and has voluntarily written more than 400 articles over the last seven years, has emerged as “the go-to person for gender-related issues” on the site, says Women’s eNews. Her voice was especially prominent in the recent kerfuffle over moving female writers into a separate category from the general “American Novelists” page. Her hard work has been rewarded: she was recently taken on as Wikimedia’s program-evaluation community coordinator. That’s what we call “leaning in.”

  • Authors Pearl S. Buck, Margaret Mitchell and Harper Lee. (AP)


    Wiki Editors Segregate Women Authors

    The people’s encyclopedia has begun to remove American women novelists from the master list.

    As Gertrude Stein might have said, a novelist is a novelist is a novelist. Try telling that to the editors of Wikipedia, who have begun moving women from the page for “American novelists” to a separate page for females. This is a result of the parent category swelling too large, requiring that it be pared down by putting some authors in subcategories. Only trouble is, “women” isn’t the same kind of subcategory as “science fiction” or “romance.” Now such notables as Pearl S. Buck and Margaret Mitchell (and, at one point, Harper Lee) are missing from the main list. This segregation of women has prompted a discussion on the site, with one editor articulating the issue: “Removing women from the list of novelists is like removing black or foreign-born novelists. Its effect is inherently biased. For those who want to find women novelists, a sublist is acceptable, but it cannot fairly involve removal from the main list.” Users are at work migrating women back to the original group.