With all the depressing stories about sexism in the tech industry, it’s easy to overlook some really fantastic things helping to improve the situation.
For instance, there’s a growing army of women who are trying to end Wikipedia’s well-documented gender gap — fewer than 15% of Wikipedia editors around the world, it acknowledges — which has given the crowdsourced information site an arguably sexist bent.
Instead of complaining about it, various groups of women have begun organising edit-a-thons, days set aside where people (women and men) gather, write and edit articles about women for Wikipedia. Writing an article isn’t always enough. Regular Wikipedia editors, called administrators, can delete articles and changes. So, these groups first get trained on Wikipedia’s rules to ensure their articles and edits stick.
One of the earliest women-in-tech edit-a-thons happened about two years ago, when the Wikimedia offices in San Francisco held a Women’s History Month Edit-a-Thon. About 40 people showed up. They learned the rules of making changes that would stick and edited over 20 articles and created 11 new ones, according to the Wikipedia article on the event.
Flash forward to two weeks ago, when a New York group that calls itself Art+Feminism organised an edit-a-thon to focus on Wikipedia pages for female artists. It drew 600 participants, in 6 countries, at 61 locations,
and created 101 new articles and improved another 90. And that group has already got more edit-a-thons scheduled for later in February and in March.
The Wikimedia Foundation, the organisation that supports Wikipedia, couldn’t be happier. Wikimedia spokesperson Jay Walsh told Business Insider:
“This recent example of edit-a-thons aimed at bringing in more women has been really impressive – dozens of groups around the US and Canada (and I believe Europe and beyond) got involved and carried out these day-long sessions, which included both men and women. It’s a really important way for people who have knowledge to share, but no experienced editing Wikipedia, to get comfortable with the process.”