We, the founders of Women Writing Wiki, Sonja Hintermeier and Karin Kraus, began in the summer 2018 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 browsed well-known digital professional platforms like LinkedIn or Xing, where members design their profiles individually for networking purposes. From there, it was only a small step to Wikipedia.
It was at this moment that our research became truly intriguing. 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 and started a political initiative to address it.
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.
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 knowledge justice.
What we have done so far:
Together with female writers, experts from different sectors and a programmer we have developed projects for organisations and educational institutions to advance the presence of women on Wikipedia, working from an institutional framework.
What we will do:
With a variety of projects, technical know-how and content-related expertise, we will work towards a greater presence of women on Wikipedia. Our aim is to overcome the knowledge gender gap and accomplish greater knowledge justice.
Would you like to learn more about us?
You can find out more about our approach here.