What convinced you to contribute to Wikipedia
equal rightsWikipedia should more feminine become
90 percent of Wikipedia authors are male. The male view of the world is also reflected in the content: Articles about women scientists can hardly be found there. Some women want to change that now.
It has been known for years that Wikipedia is characterized by a male view of things, says Deutschlandfunk-Nova reporter Thomas Reintjes. According to the Wikimedia Foundation, only 17 percent of biographies in English-language Wikipedia in 2016 were biographies of women.
This phenomenon is called "gender bias", i.e. a gender-related distortion effect. And that this also applies to Wikipedia is not surprising when you take a closer look at authorship: On Wikipedia itself you can read that up to 90 percent of the authors are men.
A male perspective dominates Wikipedia
That should change now. How? Women convince other women to write on Wikipedia. Jess Wades, a physicist from London, is a pioneer in this effort. She wants Wikipedia to be more balanced, and has therefore made the resolution for this year to create a new page every day either about a scientist or about a scientist who belongs to an underrepresented minority. And she is hardworking: since the beginning of the year she has already created 352 new Wikipedia pages (as of October 5th, 2018).
"Some of the people that I've added are people that I've met at meetings. I want to learn more about them on Google and I notice that they don't have a Wikipedia page. So I just make one."
And with her commitment, Jess Wades also infects other women. The molecular biologist Maryam Zaringhalam, for example. In spring she set up a Wikipedia page for the very first time, she tells our reporter Thomas Reintjes. There are now a good 30 articles. She writes about people she meets, she explains. For example about female scientists whom she met at specialist conferences, but about whom she could not find a Wikipedia entry.
"I think that while men got more attention, there were a lot of women who were still out there and doing the work. So I think women have always been there, but people weren't necessarily paying attention or giving them the credit."
She doesn't think men dominate Wikipedia like that because they have dominated world history for the longest time. Women, she says, have always done valuable work too. They would just simply go unnoticed and undervalued.
Maryam Zaringhalam's commitment is not limited to just writing articles, says Thomas. As a next step, she organized a so-called Edith-a-thon, a kind of writing workshop in which Wikipedia articles about women are created or edited together.
"We can all edit Wikipedia. So it is up to us to make women and minorities more visible.
Ultimately, everyone can help make Wikipedia more balanced, because everyone can write Wikipedia articles, says Thomas Reintjes. However, the criteria for new articles on Wikipedia are rather male-friendly, criticizes Maryam Zaringhala.
Men prefer relevance criteria for Wikipedia biographies
The community deletes articles that are judged not to be relevant enough. According to Maryam, the relevance of biographies is measured by criteria such as the number of publications, the number of awards or the extent of media coverage. And these are precisely the areas in which women are generally overlooked.
"They're looking for how many awards you have, how many publications you have and how well covered you are in the media. And all three of those are areas in which women tend to be overlooked."
All the work of creating new articles and possibly having to mess with the community sounds kind of tedious. But it seems to be worth it: Maryam Zaringhalam, in any case, finds her commitment very enriching.
"I find that to be extremely rewarding. Because I use Wikipedia all the time. And to know that now there's a portion of things on Wikipedia that I wrote about people that I admire, is the biggest reward."
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