Why we act

Gründerinnen von Women Writing Wiki
Sonja Hintermeier and Karin Kraus on their way to the archive of the German National Library in Frankfurt

In the summer of 2018, we began a private discussion regarding the presence of women on the Internet. We wanted to find out how and with what kind of achievements women are represented.

At first, we could not believe how few women we were able to find on Wikipedia. In fact, the number of articles about women and the proportion of female Wikipedia authors worldwide lie below 20%.

 

With these findings, we had stumbled upon a highly sensitive topic, as lacking knowledge by and about women leads to their achievements and merits being forgotten. This awareness fostered our desire to stimulate a broader debate on the issue – we were determined to change the current situation.

 

From our perspective, the creation of a fast-growing network was the logical next step to induce a movement to make Wikipedia less gender biased.

To initiate this movement, in November 2018 we organised a discussion event for women from our personal environment (entrepreneurs, journalists, leaders of institutions, women involved in politics or church). Our idea was to tackle the issue from within the organisational structure of Wikipedia itself, by engaging the largest possible number of women in writing-workshops and edit-a-thons.

 

Die Gründerinnen von Women Writing Wikipedia
The founders of Women Writing Wikipedia in the German National Library

What we have learned

Simultaneously, we began to write articles about women who were not represented on Wikipedia yet. We experienced the difficulties of working within a space whose regulations have been designed mostly by men. It also showed us that this problem is not solved easily, that special efforts and expertise are required to change the prevailing conditions, which are marked by rigid relevance criteria, a lack of rules for gendered language and working methods dominated by men. Moreover, we found that the necessary energy and capacity to change these structures were impossible to mobilise within just our small group of women.

The topic demands our full dedication. The existing structures are so well established that an energetic intervention is necessary to increase the presence of women in Wikipedia in favour of gender equality and knowledge justice.

What we are currently doing

We have developed together with our team of competent female authors and experts from different fields of expertise, a large number of projects for organizations and educational institutions in order to advance the presence of women on Wikipedia, working from an institutional framework.

Because it is and will remain our goal to overcome the knowledge gender gap and accomplish greater knowledge justice.