Women get far less recognition on Wikipedia than men, and a group of artists is tired of it

Women get far less recognition on Wikipedia than men, and a group of artists is tired of it

A Vancouver art gallery is making sure women get their due on the world's largest online encyclopaedia.

The Belkin Art Gallery is hosting a Wikipedia 'edit-a-thon'. The goal is to create more pages celebrating the accomplishments of women, particularly female artists — a demographic that the gallery's coordinator Alexandra Bischoff says is widely underrepresented.

"Less than 10 per cent of Wikipedia editors identify as female," Bischoff told stand-in host Gloria Macarenko on CBC's On the Coast, citing the figures from activist group Art + Feminism. "These events are essentially an effort to bolster female representation on the website, and also to encourage more women to become editors."

The 'edit-a-thon' at the Belkin Art Gallery is one of many happening across the globe. The events are affiliated with Art + Feminism, a group founded by New York-based artists including UBC alumnus Jacqueline Mabey.

"It is an open invitation for women to come together and work on pages that they would like to see created for Wikipedia," said Bischoff.

Unequal representation

Art + Feminism began organizing the annual 'edit-a-thons' in 2014, after recognizing that the bulk of Wikipedia articles pertain to male subjects, and are edited by male users.

Bischoff says the gender disparity "stems from the fact that coding and programming are traditionally considered to be male dominated industries," adding that Wikipedia's interface was long inaccessible for people who were uneducated in the trade.

"A lack of female editors naturally will lead to a skewed representation on the platform, in any field."

Bischoff says many accomplished female artists are notable absent from the platform — but the group hopes to change that. The art gallery will begin their 'edit-a-thons' on March 18 and hopes to create up to 15 new pages.

With files from CBC's On the Coast

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Women get far less recognition on Wikipedia than men, and a group of artists are tired of it