The gender bias on Wikipedia, is real. Only 18% of people profiled on the web-based, free digital encyclopedia are women.
Wikipedia is the fifth most visited website in the world and is based on a model of openly editable content, which means anyone can add to and edit profiles on the site. The platform is a key resource for millions of internet users.
The lack of female profiles on Wikipedia means many talented women are not getting the recognition they deserve. It also skews our perceptions of the many and varied contributions women make in the world.
One of the problems impacting the gender disparity on Wikipedia is that only 16% of people who actively contribute content to Wikipedia identify as women.
The majority of Wikipedia editors are men in North America.
On Thursday, 25th July, women working in the health, medical and life sciences sector took to their keyboards to increase the visibility of female scientists on Wikipedia.
The Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, hosted by Franklin Women and biopharmaceutical company AbbVie Australia, was held to ensure women who have made important contributions to the health and medical research sector, are recognised.
Increasing the number of women who have the skills and confidence to become Wikipedia editors was also an essential part of the event.
Today we made the internet a little bit better! Thanks to @FranklinWomen, me @shilpainthelab and Caitlyn @syd_health created a whole new profile for @DharmicaMistry! #WomeninSTEMM #FWonWiki pic.twitter.com/WH8fJttef7
— Gabriella (@gabtiernan) July 25, 2019
Dr Melina Georgousakis, founder of Franklin Women, sees the importance of expanding Wikipedia to be more representative of female health and medical researchers.
“When people search for information online, Wikipedia entries are often the first results to appear. If articles on female scientists are missing on one of the largest and most popular encyclopaedias it skews public perception of their contributions to the health and medical field,” said Georgousakis.
“We are excited that because of this Edit-a-Thon more women scientists will get the recognition they deserve for their work and the role it has played in shaping society today.”
The Edit-a-thon is part of a broader global movement to close the gender content gap on encyclopedia platform. Similar editing sessions have been held across the UK, USA and Canada.
“Wikipedia editors are mainly men in North America, and, unfortunately, that impacts the representation of women – and anything in the Southern Hemisphere. When a Wikipedia page was created for Canadian physicist Donna Strickland it was quickly deleted for not demonstrating her notability – she went on to win the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics,” said physicist Dr Jessica Wade.
“It’s great to see this Edit-a-thon happening in Australia to bring greater recognition to the incredible women scientists and researchers who have been overlooked.”
That’s a wrap! More than 235 edits and 7,000 words of notability added to Wikipedia to acknowledge Australian women in #STEMM. Thanks for partnering with us @FranklinWomen #fwonwiki pic.twitter.com/wKlYnJJqZj
— AbbVie Australia (@AbbVie_AU) July 25, 2019