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Humanist Archives: Feb. 4, 2019, 7:59 a.m. Humanist 32.418 - women & Wikipedia

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 418.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                   Hosted by King's Digital Lab
                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org

        Date: 2019-02-03 17:35:54+00:00
        From: Virginia Knight 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.415: women & Wikipedia

I know there are concerted attempts to address the gender balance of
biographical articles on Wikipedia, with the active support of the
Wikimedia Foundation.  Looking at my own discipline, the Women's Classical
Committee has monthly editing sessions and occasional intensive editathons
to write biographies of female classicists (see
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_Classical_Committee_UK).  I believe
similar events have been organised to contribute and enhance biographies of
women scientists.

Virginia Knight (occasional Wikipedian)

On Sun, 3 Feb 2019 at 07:28, Humanist  wrote:

>                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 415.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                    Hosted by King's Digital Lab
>                        www.dhhumanist.org
>                 Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org
>         Date: 2019-02-03 00:44:25+00:00
>         From: Kara Kennedy 
>         Subject: RE: [Humanist] 32.409: the question on Wikipedia
> Hi all,
> I'd like to introduce the topic of women into this very interesting and
> insightful conversation about Wikipedia, which has only been alluded to.
> It is
> one of the key concerns I have about the site, and as long as Wikipedia
> retains
> its dominance, I think it is worth investing time into, despite the other
> issues
> the site has.
> As I see it, Wikipedia suffers from similar problems to the tech industry,
> namely that it  became a 'boys' club' where (often young) men claimed
> ownership
> over what they perceived to be their territory and created an increasingly
> hostile environment for others, including women, to enter, operate in, and
> remain. Since the Wikipedia administrators are chosen based on their level
> of
> contribution, you end up with an administrator class that is also largely
> male
> and can help perpetuate the existing culture, which they may have helped
> form. I
> have anecdotal evidence of editors starting reversion wars or aggressive
> debates
> because they have created a page or performed many edits on it and somehow
> believe it is 'theirs' to control.
> There are also issues with what content is updated, the lack of articles on
> women compared to men, what the administrators vote to become featured
> articles
> on the home page which get much more visibility, etc. These issues are not
> necessarily unique to Wikipedia as an encyclopedia, but it reaches
> millions more
> people including those who lack access to traditional scholarly sources so
> the
> negative impact on women and other marginalized groups is arguably much
> greater.
> It becomes a problematic cycle where people think that if it's not online
> (i.e.
> on Wikipedia) it doesn't exist or isn't important, and women and other
> underrepresented groups are not likely to become editors, so the situation
> is
> not likely to improve. Research on why women are less likely to contribute
> shows
> that it is yet another area of tech they aren't encouraged in. I tend to
> agree
> with the hypothesis of Collier and Bear (2012) in "Conflict, confidence, or
> criticism: An empirical examination of the gender gap in Wikipedia”, who
> found
> that these three 'C's', in addition to a lack of free time to edit, were
> key
> issues.
> I think it is educational institutions' longstanding reluctance to engage
> with
> Wikipedia that has let this situation drag on for so long. High school and
> university students that I tutor say that they are told not to use it by
> their
> teachers (who probably learned that from their teachers), and my
> explanation to
> them about the biases and inner workings is new information. Regardless of
> what
> we in academia think about the site, it is the go-to source of information
> for
> millions who are likely to accept the info at face-value. If every high
> school
> and tertiary-level English teacher (and other disciplines as well) taught
> their
> students about Wikipedia and had them work on one article (similar to the
> #1Lib1Ref project), it could be a game-changer. As long as it remains on
> the
> margins though, it will remain dominated by the group of administrators and
> relatively small group of male editors based in the Global North. For more
> info
> on this topic, see my conference paper "Why Women Should Be Editing
> Wikipedia"
> [https://www.academia.edu/34161403/Why_Women_Should_Be_Editing_Wikipedia]
> Regards,
> Kara
> Kara Kennedy
> PhD, English

Virginia Knight
kw@virginiaknight.org.uk (reaches me and Gregory)

Homepage: http://www.virginiaknight.org.uk/
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