I joined a Wikipedia Editathon to #ChangeTheStory and address the Wikipedia Gender Gap

01 August 2022


By Meg Kneafsey, Press Officer, CARE International UK

This weekend, England’s Lionesses won the Euros. A record 17.4 million tuned in to watch England’s win over Germany.  This historic moment is a win not only for these female athletes but for a whole generation of women and girls who are seeing women’s achievements celebrated by society as a whole. 

Women deserve to have their accomplishments heralded. The names of Leah Williamson, Ella Toone, and Chloe Kelly should be as much on the lips of the public as Harry Kane, Raheem Steerling, and Jordan Pickford. Yet this is nowhere near true on Wikipedia, where only 6.5 per cent of biographies of football players on Wikipedia are of women. In fact, there are more Wiki pages on football and footballers than there are profiles on women in any field, at any time in history. 

At CARE, we’re trying to #ChangeTheStory on women’s representation by partnering with Wikimedia UK and Women In Red to celebrate women’s accomplishments. Only 19.3% of biographies on English Wikipedia are of women and we want to change that. 

That’s how I found myself last week joining an online Wikipedia ‘editathon’ hosted by the University of Edinburgh. As a young millennial, I felt adept at technology – in fact, my parents-in-law frequently rely on me to fix their technical woes. However, I had previously attempted to create an account on Wikipedia and edit some pages but quickly found myself overwhelmed and gave up. 

That’s I was surprised that, within an hour of starting the online editathon, I found myself creating a page from scratch. Indeed, once a couple of key points were explained, I realised that working on Wikipedia is incredibly easy. You just need to be able to source all facts and write in plain English (or your respective language). 

The editathon had a selection of interesting women that we could choose to write about, including a very interesting list on women who had been accused of witchcraft. We could either create a page from scratch or expand on existing pages. The latter is just as important as currently women’s profiles on Wikipedia are less likely to be detailed or expanded on than men’s profiles. 

While it’s brilliant that men also write profiles about women, it’s important to note that there is a gender gap in editors too. Women make up around 15-20% of the editors on Wikipedia. Wikipedia represents our shared knowledge that why it’s so vital that women are also part of telling the story. 

Although I’ve only briefly been a Wikipedia editor, what struck me very quickly was how collaborative it is. My perception of editing was that it is a solitary process behind a laptop. Rather there’s a whole online community of editors. Since creating and editing my first few pages, I’ve had other editors respond to my creation, making suggestions and giving tips. 

Whether you’ve considered it before or not, whether you’re male or female, I highly recommend joining an editathon and learning the skill of editing Wikipedia. Who knows, you too might become part of changing the story.

You can find out about the next Editathon here 

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