There should be a deep cultural change in the tech field to value women’s contributions and make their contributions more visible to the outer world.
By Netha Hussain (Volunteer, Wikimedia)
There is nothing else that changed my life like Wikipedia. It is not just that I “edit” Wikipedia, but I also “celebrate” it. Editing Wikipedia is a rewarding experience as it helps me gain a new perspective of things. It is also exciting to be able to share the bit of knowledge I know with the millions of knowledge seekers from around the world.
Women and Wikipedia
Like most other tech-related organizations, Wikipedia too cannot boast of high female participation. A recent research points out that only 9% of the editors of English Wikipedia are women.
Wikipedia is sensitive to the gender gap issue and is on its way to close it. The Wikimedia Foundation has set a goal to raise the share of female contributors to 25% by 2015. A WikiWomanCamp was organized this year at Buenos Aires, Argentina for the wiki-women to interact with each other, share their experiences and discuss about gender gap and related issues.
Why so few women edit?
At the WikiWomenCamp, it was pointed out by participants that women do not contribute to Wikipedia because of various socio-cultural factors. Women are traditionally assigned the responsibility of housekeeping and childrearing, which leaves them with very little time to spend for volunteering activities. Women often suffer from lack of confidence and insecurity, which makes them think that those around them are better performers than them.
Women are not clear on why and how to get involved. The specific jargon used in Wikiprojects makes some new users uncomfortable and they eventually quit editing.
There should be a deep cultural change in the tech field to value women’s contributions and make their contributions more visible to the outer world. Sue Gardener, the Executive Director of Wikimedia Foundation says, “Deliberately focus efforts on recruiting women. Don’t assume that general outreach efforts will motivate women. Encourage women to recruit other women”.
Why should women edit Wikipedia?
Diversity of opinion is the essence of any encyclopedia. It is important that all articles are written from a neutral point of view, and having equal representation of women editors would increase neutrality and reduce bias. Women scientists, thinkers and those women who excel in traditionally male dominated fields are given lesser biographical coverage on Wikipedia than men involved in these fields.
Having more women volunteers will help reduce this skewed coverage and increase the quality of the content of Wikipedia articles.
Getting involved: You too can write on Wikipedia
Anybody can edit Wikipedia. You don’t have to be an expert in the subject to be able to edit any article. You do not have to learn any computer language to be able to edit Wikipedia. If you are interested in any specific subjects, you could join the Wikiproject for the topic to collaborate with editors of similar interests and keep updated about the latest news in the subject.
There are mailing lists for many aspects of wiki-editing, including the Gendergap mailing list for increasing the participation of women in Wikiprojects. Most regional languages have Wikipedias of their own, so if you are not comfortable with contributing in English, you could contribute to the language Wikipedia of your choice.
If you have photographs of educational value, you could upload them to Wikimedia Commons to permit their usage in Wikipedia articles. Wikipedia has sister projects like Wikinews, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Wikiquote etc. which also work like Wikipedia.
This article is released under Creative Commons Share Alike 3.0 License.
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest bloggers? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Netha Hussain has been a volunteer for Wikimedia projects since 2010. She has participated in WikiWomanCamp 2012, the conference for woman Wikimedians. Nethan is a 21 year old medical student from Kozhikode, Kerala, India. She is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in medicine and surgery at Government Medical College, Kozhikode. She blogs at Blossoming Soul and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @nethahussain.