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

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Showing Revision 4 created 10/19/2019 by c. c. x c. c. x.

  1. Since its launch in January 2001,
    Wikipedia has grown dramatically.
  2. It's not 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
  5. that anyone can edit.
  6. It turns out that most of the editors are men
  7. and the site is now facing criticism,
    that, as a result, women's stories
  8. are not being adequately told.
  9. The NewsHour's Tracy Wolf reports.
  10. (Tracy) Rebecca Morris is a prominent
    contemporary American artist
  11. With a career spanning the last 20 years,
    her paintings can be viewed
  12. in galleries and museums around the globe,
    including the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles
  13. and the Goetz Collection in Munich, Germany.
  14. And if you Google her,
    immediately images of her work
  15. and links to interviews appear.
  16. But prior to March 9th of this year,
    Rebecca Morris didn't have a Wikipedia page.
  17. Some say that this omission
    is a small example
  18. of a very large problem.
  19. The lack of female representation
    and participation
  20. on one of the world's most popular websites:
  21. Wikipedia
  22. We definitely want to increase
    the number of women.
  23. But just increasing the number of women
    isn't necessarily going to improve
  24. the fact that content on Wikipedia itself
    is skewed.
  25. (Tracy) Adrianne Wadewitz was a dedicated Wikipedian
  26. writing and editing content on Wikipedia
    as one of the nearly 75,000
  27. active volunteer editors.
  28. (Adrianne) I'm one of the fifteen
    top contributors of high-quality content
  29. (Tracy) And being a female editor
    put Wadowitz on a very short list.
  30. A study published in 2010
    by the United Nations University

  31. and by the Wikimedia Foundation,
    the organization that runs Wikipedia,
  32. discovered that less than 13%
    of contributors are women.
  33. The same study found
    that the average Wikipedia editor
  34. is male and in his mid-20's.
  35. That means that voices and perspectives
    are being left out.
  36. (Tracy) Wadewitz first started
    editing Wikipedia ten years ago
  37. while working towards a Ph.D
    in English literature.
  38. This led her to writing entries for authors
    like William Shakespeare and Jane Austen.
  39. She worked alongside dozens
    of other contributors on Shakespeare's page
  40. Her experience working on Jane Austen's entry
    was very different.
  41. I and one other person worked
    on the Jane Austen article.
  42. So it's a pretty interesting dichotomy to me.
  43. People read Austen all the time,
    but they don't go to Wikipedia to edit it.
  44. (Tracy) Fewer women contributors, she said,
    inevitably influences what ends up
  45. on Wikipedia.
  46. One example, noted by a media columnist
    from the New York Times in 2011,
  47. is the lengthy descriptions in Wikipedia
    about
    The Sopranos,

  48. compared to the much shorter entry
    for the more female-oriented
    Sex and the City.
  49. Wadewitz said to attract more women editors,
    attitudes within the Wikipedia community need to change.
  50. This became clear when she revealed
    her gender after writing anonymously
  51. for several years.
  52. What happened after you identified yourself
    specifically as a woman editor?
  53. Well there was a big change in how people
    treated me and how they viewed
  54. the information that I put on Wikipedia.
  55. There were a lot more questions
    about what I was adding.
  56. There was a lot more skepticism,
    and a lot of times when I made arguments
  57. about including a specific piece of content
    or excluding a specific piece of content,
  58. I was accused of being hysterical
    or emotional,
  59. things that had never happened before.
  60. (Tracy) After the Wikimedia study came out,
    detailing how few women were editing,
  61. then Executive Director Sue Gardner
    set a goal of increasing female contributors
  62. to 25% by 2015.
  63. I think one thing Wikipedia has to do
    as a culture,
  64. is ask itself, "Are we willing
    to be this self-selecting and be this small?"
  65. We can have many more people
    if we're willing to be
  66. a more welcoming community.
  67. (Tracy) To help achieve this,
    many groups have organized edit-a-thons,
  68. events where experienced Wikipedians,
    and first timers get together to help each other
  69. write new content.
  70. Edit-a-thons are not gender-exclusive,
    but increasingly, women are
  71. recruiting other women to participate.
  72. Do you think that more should be happening
    in order to try to increase the participation
  73. of women as editors and content on Wikipedia?
  74. In one respect, I would say we need
    to add the voice of feminists Wikipedia
  75. who are going to talk about women
    as under-represented groups.
  76. (Tracy) This edit-a-thon, held
    at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles
  77. in March,
  78. focused on creating entries
    for L.A. artists,
  79. many of them women.
  80. And that's how Rebecca Morris
    finally got her page in the world's largest encyclopedia.
  81. I know something about how the first encyclopedias
    were developed in the 18th century,
  82. and those encyclopedias almost completely
    excluded the history of women.
  83. And it's one argument
    that we make all the time
  84. when we're talking both to Wikipedians
    and people outside of Wikipedia.
  85. We say, "Look! If we want to include
    all of these other narratives
  86. besides the typical narrative
    that we usually tell of dead white men,
  87. we've got to get it in there now."
  88. If you want to weigh in
    about this controversy,
  89. $$go online to newshour.pbs.org.
  90. And a very sad note, a few weeks after
    we taped our interview with Adrianne Wadewitz,
  91. she died after a rock-climbing accident.
  92. We broadcast today's report
    with the encouragement of her family.