In an effort to stay up to date with all things wiki, I went last week to Wikimania 2017 in Montreal. It was my first Wikimania. Ewan and I did our ‘What’s the Value of a Wikimedian’ double act. You can watch us on Media Hopper.
The conference was really interesting, and quite political. Lots of talk of combatting fake news and a keynote from the ACLU. It was also quite a diverse conference, I thought, and the topic of diversity came up again and again. A lot of people thinking very hard about the sheer scale of getting ‘everyone’ involved in open knowledge.
I mused* on 2 things:
- Someone presented some research indicating that women who contribute to Wikipedia do not only edit on ‘women’s topics’ or female biographies. That was not a shock as women, notoriously, are interested in all kinds of topics. But it does mean that getting more female editors does not automatically increase the coverage of our under represented bios.
- There was some interesting findings with regard to images. It seems that the images available in Wikimedia Commons to represent people in roles and professions disproportionately portray men in those roles. Even when the profession in question is traditionally female dominated.
The connection between these two I think, must draw upon the same theory of ‘unconscious bias’ as our recruitment training does. Men and women both tend to think that men are more appropriate in professional roles, and more notable for biographies. Unconsciously, even when we pay attention, we may fall foul of our bias.
(slides from these research presentations)
Much inspired by it all, I return to my main hobby of creating and improving women’s bios. This week I wrote about Prunella Briance, founder of the NCT and Sheila Kitzinger. I felt brave and added a picture of actual breastfeeding to Kitzinger’s page. I think she would have wanted that. Briance, Kitzinger and the NCT fought the good fight to allow women to breastfeed without fear, even in public.
*coincidentally, while I was there I discovered another dead muse, and created a page for Blanche Blackwell.