We are all aware of the large reach and popularity of Wikipedia. However, what most people don’t know is that, according to a study conducted in 2011, only 9% of the editors at Wikipedia were women. And the percentage for India is even lower, just 3%.
Wikipedia recognises the systemic gender bias that is created because of factors such as these and thus enables its diverse range of users to edit and create Wikipedia pages, with reliable and authentic sources.
Feminism in India conducts monthly Wikipedia edit-a-thons with different organisations exploring various facets of gender in India, thus increasing content on women and marginalized communities on Wikipedia as well as training women to create and edit Wikipedia pages and hence increasing the number of women editors.
On 16th February 2019, FII, The Life of Science (TLoS) and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi co-organised a Wikipedia editathon on Indian women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) to commemorate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11 at IIT Delhi. The editathon was also part of FII’s month long campaign #DesiSTEMinist to celebrate women in the field of STEM and highlight their contributions.
The editathon was organised to improve the information on women’s scientists in India as well as to teach a new skill of creating and editing articles on Wikipedia to the youth.
We started the event with a round of introductions and a short talk by FII Founder on why we edit on Wikipedia and a discussion on the whys and hows of Wikipedia editing for new-comers.. Next, Aashima from TLoS gave a talk on highlighting the stories of Indian women scientists and the challenges they face at their workplaces.
Accordingly, we created a list of women scientists’ pages and looked at their representation on Wikipedia. We mostly expanded stub articles.
We were a group of 19 editors in total. After that, each participant chose one or more woman scientist, and started digging through the internet looking for interviews, news reports and e-books that mentioned their chosen topic to write comprehensive Wikipedia articles on them.
By the end of the day, the participants had edited 26 articles in English by 19 editors and added 8.55K words. See additional statistics here.