Tag: gender equality

Balance for Better – Teaching Matters

Wikimedian in Residence highlights how staff & students are engaging with Wikipedia to address the diversity of editors & content shared online.

“The information that is on Wikipedia spreads across the internet. What is right or wrong or missing on Wikipedia affects the entire internet.” (Wadewitz, 2014)

Wikipedia, the free, online, encyclopaedia is building the largest open knowledge resource in human history. Now aged eighteen, Wikipedia ranks among the world’s top ten sites for scholarly resource lookups and is extensively used by virtually every platform used on a daily basis, receiving over 500 million views per month, from 1.5 billion unique devices. As topics on Wikipedia become more visible on Google, they receive more press coverage and become better known amongst the public.

“Wikipedia is today the gateway through which millions of people now seek access to knowledge.”- (Cronon, 2012)

At the University of Edinburgh, we have quickly generated real examples of technology-enhanced learning activities appropriate to the curriculum and transformed our students, staff and members of the public from being passive readers and consumers to being active, engaged contributors. The result is that our community is more engaged with knowledge creation online and readers all over the world benefit from our teaching, research and collections.

While Wikipedia has significant reach and influence, it also has significant gaps in its coverage of topics, articles in other languages and the diversity of its editors. Most editors are white men, and topics covered reflect this with less than 18 percent of biographies on English Wikipedia about women. The Wikimedia community are committed to diversity and inclusivity and have developed, and worked with, a number of initiatives to ensure knowledge equity such as Whose Knowledge.org and WikiProject Women in Red, with Wikimedia’s campaign for 200 more biographies of female sportswomen (Levine, 2019) just one recent example of looking at ways to address this systemic bias.

 

Our Wikimedia in the Curriculum activities bring benefits to the students who learn new skills and have immediate impact in addressing both the diversity of editors and diversity of content shared online:

 

  • Global Health MSc students add 180-200 words to Global Health related articles e.g. their edits to the page on obesity are viewed 3,000 times per day on average.
  • Digital Sociology MSc students engage in workshops with how sociology is communicated and how knowledge is created and curated online each year as a response to the recent ASA article.
  • Reproductive Biology Honours – a student’s article on high-grade serous carcinoma, one of the most common forms of ovarian cancer, includes 60 references and diagrams she created, has been viewed over 67,000 times since 2016.
  • Translation Studies MSc students gain meaningful published practice by translating 2,000 words to share knowledge between two different language Wikipedias on a topic of their own choosing.
  • World Christianity MSc students undertake a literature review assignment to make the subject much less about White Northern hemisphere perspectives; creating new articles on Asian Feminist Theology, Sub-Saharan Political Theology and more.
  • Data Science for Design MSc – Wikipedia’s sister project, Wikidata, affords students the opportunity to work practically with research datasets, like the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft Database, and surface data to the Linked Open Data Cloud and explore the direct and indirect relationships at play in this semantic web of knowledge to help further discovery.

We also work with student societies (Law & Technology, History, Translation, Women in STEM, Wellcomm Kings) and have held events for Ada Lovelace Day, LGBT History Month, Black History Month and celebrated Edinburgh’s Global Alumni; working with the UncoverEd project and the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission.

Students are addressing serious knowledge gaps and are intrinsically motivated to do so because their scholarship is published and does something lasting for the common good, for an audience of not one but millions.

Representation matters. Gender inequality in science and technology is all too real. Gaps in our shared knowledge excludes the vitally important contributions of many within our community and you can’t be what you can’t see. To date, 65% of our participating editors at the University of Edinburgh have been women. The choices being made in creating new pages and increasing the visibility of topics and the visibility of inspirational role models online can not only shape public understanding around the world for the better but also help inform and shape our physical environments to inspire the next generation.

 “It’s an emotional connection… Within, I’d say, less than 2 hours of me putting her page in place it was the top hit that came back in Google when I Googled it and I just thought that’s it, that’s impact right there!” (Hood & Littlejohn, 2018)

Rosie Taylor and Isobel Cordrey from the student support group, Wellcomm Kings, co-hosted the Wikipedia Diversithon event for LGBT History Month at the Festival of Creative Learning 2019.

Bibliography

  1. Wadewitz, A. (2014). 04. Teaching with Wikipedia: the Why, What, and How. Retrieved from https://www.hastac.org/blogs/wadewitz/2014/02/21/04-teaching-wikipedia-why-what-and-how
  2. Cronon, W. (2012). Scholarly Authority in a Wikified World | Perspectives on History | AHA. Retrieved from https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/february-2012/scholarly-authority-in-a-wikified-world
  3. Levine, N. (2019). A Ridiculous Gender Bias On Wikipedia Is Finally Being Corrected. Retrieved from https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/2019/06/234873/womens-world-cup-football-wikipedia
  4. Mathewson, J., & McGrady, R. (2018). Experts Improve Public Understanding of Sociology Through Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://www.asanet.org/news-events/footnotes/apr-may-2018/features/experts-improve-public-understanding-sociology-through-wikipedia
  5. Hood, N., & Littlejohn, A. (2018). Becoming an online editor: perceived roles and responsibilities of Wikipedia editors. Retrieved from http://www.informationr.net/ir/23-1/paper784.html
  6. McAndrew, E., O’Connor, S., Thomas, S., & White, A. (2019). Women scientists being whitewashed from Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/women-scientists-being-whitewashed-from-wikipedia-ewan-mcandrew-siobhan-o-connor-dr-sara-thomas-and-dr-alice-white-1-4887048
  7. McMahon, C.; Johnson, I.; and Hecht, B. (2017). The Substantial Interdependence of Wikipedia and Google: A Case Study on the Relationship Between Peer Production Communities and Information Technologies.

 

The Wikimedia residency is a free resource available to all staff and students interested in exploring how to benefit from and contribute to the free and open Wikimedia projects.

If you would like to find out more contact ewan.mcandrew@ed.ac.uk

In the news

 

Celebrating 100 years of Votes for Women

A photograph of the Great Procession and Women’s Demonstration in Edinburgh in 1909. The image shows crowds of people congregated together to watch the procession. Many of those marching are carrying large banners. There is a brass band marching in front of the banner procession. There are also horses and carts that are carrying men and women. The photograph also shows a long view of Princes Street, which emphasises the amount of people who turned out for the demonstration. CC-BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons – kindly shared by Edinburgh Central Library’s Capital Collections.

To celebrate 100 years since the Representation of the People Act (1918) gave some women the vote, we held three #Vote100 Wikipedia editing events.

34 brand new biography articles have now surfaced on Wikipedia about Scotland’s suffragettes and the Eagle House suffragettes, along with 220 improved pages and items of data so people can discover all about their lives and contributions.

Wikipedia editathon for Processions 2018 at the University of Edinburgh Library. CC-BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons
Students and staff creating new Wikipedia pages about Scottish suffragettes at Processions 2018. CC-BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons.

 

“Annie’s Arboretum” at Eagle House

Eagle House (suffragette’s rest) became an important refuge for suffragettes who had been released from Holloway prison after hunger strikes. Many major people from the suffragette movement were invited to stay at Eagle house and to plant a tree to celebrate a prison sentence — at least 47 trees were planted between April 1909 and July 1911, including by Emmeline Pankhurst, Christabel Pankhurst, Annie Kenney, Charlotte Despard, Millicent Fawcett and Lady Lytton.

Read more in the Histropedia timeline (external website).

Suffragettes Annie Kenney, Mary Blathwayt and Emmeline Pankhurst, Eagle House, Batheaston 1910. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The Scottish suffragettes

New Wikipedia pages have been created about: Maude Edwards slashing the portrait of King George V at the Royal Scottish Academy and her defiance at trial; the force-feeding of Frances Gordon and Arabella Scott at Perth Prison by the doctor who was “emotionally hooked” to Arabella Scott and offered to escort her to Canada; the attempted arson conducted by pioneer doctor Dorothea Chalmers Smith; the Aberdonian suffragette & organiser, Caroline Phillips, being sacked by telegram by Christabel Pankhurst; and the “energetic little woman from Stranraer” Jane Taylour who was a firebrand lecturer on Women’s Suffrage touring up and down Scotland and England.

Read more in the Histropedia timeline (external website).

Bessie Watson – suffragette aged 9 years old.
In 1909, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) staged a march through Edinburgh to demonstrate “what women have done and can and will do”. Bessie Watson had played the bagpipes from an early age and at the age of nine she was asked to join the WSPU march and play the pipes. The march had a big impact on Bessie and she became involved in the suffragette movement. This involved playing the pipes outside the Calton Gaol to raise the spirits of incarcerated suffragettes. Playing the pipes led Bessie to do remarkable things and she became one of the first Girl Guides in Edinburgh and was seen by the King. The Capital Collections exhibition includes images of Bessie and the 1909 march as well as pictures of Calton Gaol. CC-BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons. Kindly shared by Edinburgh Central Library’s Capital Collections.