Back in 2011, a study found that less than 10 percent of Wikipedia edits were made by women. This led Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that runs the open-source encyclopedia, to pledge to increase the number of female Wikipedia contributors to 25 percent by 2015.
That, infamously, didn’t happen. But it’s not for lack of effort from a global cadre of women and allies putting their computer skills to good use. Working under the organization name Art + Feminism, the group has steadfastly been increasing the number of entries made by women, as well as the number of pages about women on the site, since 2014.
“Wikipedia is the largest and most popular general reference work on the internet with more than 40 million articles in more than 250 different languages,” reads Art + Feminism’s mission statement. “The fact is when we don’t tell our stories or participate in the ways our history is preserved, it gets erased.”
The group hosts scores of events throughout the year, but the biggest is the annual coding spree. Called the Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon, the event has iterations around the world and generates thousands of new encyclopedic entries about gender, feminism, art and the intersections therein. This year, the New York City event will be held at the Museum of Modern Art on Saturday, March 2, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m, with on-site training, childcare, refreshments and resources available to newcomers and returning guests.
For 2019, the group’s formal goal is to increase the number of trans women and nonbinary people on the site, in addition to cis women.
“This year we focused on growth, both in people and in focus,” said Art + Feminism’s lead organizers, Sian Evans, Jacqueline Mabey, McKensie Mack, Michael Mandiberg and Melissa Tamani Becerra, in a group statement. “In focusing our 2019 campaign on editing about non-binary topics, we made public our personal commitment to an expansive understanding of gender. This way, we can better represent the gender identities of Art+Feminism organizers and participants.”
Aside from coding (and learning-to-code) opportunities, the event features programs meant to stimulate discussion and community. Writer and activist Che Gossett and educators Alok Vaid-Menon and Simone Browne will participate in a panel discussion, moderated by MoMA curatorial assistant Danielle Jackson, about visibility and vulnerability. There is also a series called Gallery Sessions, which focuses on feminist art, and a workshop on combating implicit and explicit bias. Across the street at the New York Public Library, those interested in zine making can participate in a workshop; a Drag Queen Story Hour is also on the program.
Since its founding, Art + Feminism’s Edit-a-Thons have led to the “creation and improvement” of more than 33,000 Wikipedia entries, according to the organization. More than 10,000 people across the globe have attended events.
Top Image: Courtesy of Wikimedia