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← 'Wikipedian' editor took on website's gender gap

Wikipedia has come under scrutiny over the lack of female representation and participation on the website. To combat this trend, Adrianne Wadewitz was a dedicated "Wikipedian," who wrote and edited content on Wikipedia as one of the nearly 75,000 active volunteer editors.

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Showing Revision 5 created 05/29/2014 by Rita Logue.

  1. Since its launch in January 2001,
    Wikipedia has grown dramatically.
  2. It's now the most extensive
    English-language encyclopedia,
  3. with more than 4.5 million articles,
    all of them written by volunteers.
  4. As the site proudly states,
    it's the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.
  5. It turns out that most of the editors are men
  6. and the site is now facing criticism,
    that, as a result, women's stories
  7. are not being adequately told.
  8. The NewsHour's Tracy Wolf reports.

  9. (Tracy) Rebecca Morris is a prominent
    contemporary American artist.
  10. With a career spanning the last 20 years,
    her paintings can be viewed
  11. in galleries and museums around the globe,
    including the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles
  12. and the Goetz Collection in Munich, Germany.
  13. And if you Google her,
    immediately images of her work
  14. and links to interviews appear.
  15. But prior to March 9th of this year,
    Rebecca Morris didn't have a Wikipedia page.
  16. Some say that this omission
    is a small example of a very large problem.
  17. The lack of female representation
    and participation
  18. on one of the world's most popular websites:
  19. Wikipedia
  20. We definitely want to increase
    the number of women.
  21. But just increasing the number of women
    isn't necessarily going to improve
  22. the fact that content on Wikipedia itself
    is skewed.
  23. (Tracy) Adrianne Wadewitz was a dedicated Wikipedian
  24. writing and editing content on Wikipedia
    as one of the nearly 75,000
  25. active volunteer editors.
  26. (Adrianne) I'm one of the fifteen
    top contributors of high-quality content
  27. (Tracy) And being a female editor
    put Wadewitz on a very short list.
  28. A study published in 2010
    by the United Nations University
  29. and by the Wikimedia Foundation,
    the organization that runs Wikipedia,
  30. discovered that less than 13%
    of contributors are women.
  31. The same study found
    that the average Wikipedia editor
  32. is male and in his mid-20's.
  33. That means that voices and perspectives
    are being left out.
  34. (Tracy) Wadewitz first started
    editing Wikipedia ten years ago
  35. while working towards a PhD
    in English literature.
  36. This led her to writing entries for authors
    like William Shakespeare and Jane Austen.
  37. She worked alongside dozens
    of other contributors on Shakespeare's page
  38. Her experience working on Jane Austen's entry
    was very different.
  39. I and one other person worked
    on the Jane Austen article.
  40. (Adrianne) So it's a pretty interesting dichotomy to me.
  41. People read Austen all the time,
    but they don't go to Wikipedia to edit it.
  42. (Tracy) Fewer women contributors, she said,
    inevitably influences what ends up
  43. on Wikipedia.
  44. One example, noted by a media columnist
    from the New York Times in 2011,
  45. is the lengthy descriptions in Wikipedia
    about The Sopranos,

  46. compared to the much shorter entry
    for the more female-oriented Sex and the City.
  47. Wadewitz said to attract more women editors,
    attitudes within the Wikipedia community need to change.
  48. This became clear when she revealed
    her gender after writing anonymously
  49. for several years.
  50. What happened once you identified yourself
    specifically as a woman editor?
  51. Well there was a big change in how people
    treated me and how they viewed

  52. the information that I put on Wikipedia.
  53. (Adrianne) There were a lot more questions
    about what I was adding.
  54. There was a lot more skepticism,
    and a lot of times when I made arguments
  55. about including a specific piece of content
    or excluding a specific piece of content,
  56. I was accused of being hysterical
    or emotional,
  57. things that had never happened before.
  58. (Tracy) After the Wikimedia study came out,
    detailing how few women were editing,

  59. then Executive Director Sue Gardner
    set a goal of increasing female contributors
  60. to 25% by 2015.
  61. I think one thing Wikipedia has to do
    as a culture,
  62. is ask itself, "Are we willing
    to be this self-selecting and be this small?"
  63. We can have many more people
    if we're willing to be
  64. a more welcoming community.
  65. (Tracy) To help achieve this,
    many groups have organized edit-a-thons,

  66. events where experienced Wikipedians,
    and first timers get together to help each other
  67. write new content.
  68. Edit-a-thons are not gender-exclusive,
    but increasingly, women are
  69. recruiting other women to participate.
  70. Do you think that more should be happening
    in order to try to increase the participation
  71. of women as editors and content on Wikipedia?
  72. In one respect, I would say we need
    to add the voice of feminists to Wikipedia
  73. who are going to talk about women
    as under-represented groups.
  74. (Tracy) This edit-a-thon, held
    at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles
  75. in March,
  76. focused on creating entries
    for L.A. artists,
  77. many of them women.
  78. And that's how Rebecca Morris
    finally got her page in the world's largest encyclopedia.

  79. I know something about how the first encyclopedias
    were developed in the 18th century,

  80. and those encyclopedias almost completely
    excluded the history of women.
  81. And it's one argument
    that we make all the time
  82. when we're talking both to Wikipedians
    and people outside of Wikipedia.
  83. We say, "Look! If we want to include
    all of these other narratives
  84. besides the typical narrative
    that we usually tell of dead white men,
  85. we've got to get it in there now."
  86. If you want to weigh in
    about this controversy,
  87. go online to newshour.pbs.org.
  88. And a very sad note, a few weeks after
    we taped our interview with Adrianne Wadewitz,
  89. she died after a rock-climbing accident.
  90. We broadcast today's report
    with the encouragement of her family.