It’s a man’s Wiki world: Oldham event for online encyclopaedia to target more women for Wikipedia editing

By Matt Scrafton

Wikipedia may be visited more than 3,000 times a second and edited by millions across the world – yet only 9% of the editors are female.

A Wiki-themed free workshop is being hosted by Oldham Council to train people up in the basics of editing the online encyclopaedia next month – however organisers are uncertain how well events like this can readdress the gender imbalance.  

The study taken out by the Wikimedia Foundation showed an overwhelming majority of the website’s contributors were male.

Steve Benton, Communications Organiser at Wikimedia UK, said he was aware of the statistics and various programmes were being put in place to rectify the issue.

He said: “We run a number of outreach events where we encourage more people to get involved.

“But it’s not a coincidence; our field of work tends to be more appealing to men due to its nature. Males tend to be more interested in technology.”

Sue Gardner, Chief Executive at the Wikimedia Foundation, noted that a lot of women don’t like to get involved because they find the atmosphere misogynist.

In 2011, Ms Gardner announced plans to try raising the number of female contributors to 25% by 2015.

She told The Huffington Post: “Our mission with Wikipedia is to provide the world, for free, the sum of all the world’s knowledge.

“How can we provide all that knowledge if only about 9% of half of the population is writing it? That automatically lends the website itself to having a systemic bias related to content.

“While we can stereotype what we think women like to talk about or read about, there are subject areas that just happen to be popular with women that are severely lacking on the website.”

Wikipedia run a number of events on ‘Ada Lovelace Day’ to help celebrate the contributions of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Ada Lovelace was a 19th century mathematician who is often credited as being the world’s first programmer after working on plans for an “analytical engine” in the 1800s.

The Wikipedia editing event will be held at Oldham’s Library and Lifelong Learning Centre on Saturday April 27.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Foundation via YouTube, with thanks.

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