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Category: Media

Women’s Voices Missing from Wikipedia

February 1, 2011

Wikipedia, the 10-year-old user-generated online encyclopedia, has grown 17% in usage among internet users over the last three years. What hasn’t grown? Female contribution, as reported by The New York Times in yesterday’s article Define Gender Gap? Look Up Wikipedia’s Contributor List.

On a site that boasts 3,546,580 articles in the English language alone, only 13% of the 143,252 active users (users who have performed an action within the last 30 days) are women. With such a small percentage of female contributors, a large part of history remains untold and misrepresented. While the Times article mentions the diminutive amount of articles about so-called “feminine” topics such as friendship bracelets and Jimmy Choo shoes, we’re more concerned with the quality of articles regarding issues such as the “Timeline of Women’s Rights,” which peculiarly seems to end in 1994, or the much too short entry listing the “Women in Journalism and Media Professions.”

In the humorous game he refers to as Wikigroaning, Jon Hendren of the website Something Awful compares Wikipedia entries about what he considers useful information with popular culture topics to prove just how much useful information is missing from the site. His findings compared, among other subjects, “Women’s Suffrage” to a “List of Fictional Gynoids and Female Cyborgs,” which he found are sadly the same length.

While playing our own game of Wikigroaning, we also learned that the entry on the fictional Susan Mayer from Desperate Housewives is nearly double the length of suffragist Susan B. Anthony’s entry.

Wikimedia executive director Sue Gardner stated that she is committed to raising the figure to 25% by the year 2015 to “ensure that the encyclopedia is as good as it could be.” Let’s help her efforts to change the conversation and make our voices heard.

To begin posting articles and editing existing articles on Wikipedia, create an account at www.wikipedia.org. Once signed up please edit your preferences by clicking on the “My Preferences” link in the upper right hand corner. In the “Basic Information” field change your gender from unspecified to female.

We want everyone to know that Wikipedia has gained another savvy woman contributor! Remember that all issues are women’s issues and our voices are desperately needed to help tell the full story.

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