Closing Wikipedia’s gender imbalance: A big writing party?

16 Dec 2016

In 15 years, Wikipedia has achieved a lot. It’s a top 100 website, has published over 40 million articles and is available in 293 languages. Yet one number the encyclopedia can’t seem to improve is the amount of content created about women by women.

As it stands just 17% of notable profiles on Wikipedia are women, while around one in ten of its editors are female. Guardian journalist and disability rights activist Penny Pepper isn’t surprised.

“I believe the gap links to the reality that women are still not used to being confident in pushing themselves forward. I’ve experienced this myself as a writer. I often have a reluctance, the internal critic, holding me back,” Ms Pepper told SAE.

Her words echo the thoughts of Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy who, ahead of the Star Wars premiere, has spoken at length about female heroism in film.

"I find it really interesting, when I first stepped into this job, I started looking at, what does it mean to be a female hero?" Ms Kennedy said at a Rogue One press conference. "And when you look at it in this industry, it's pretty shocking."

English novelist and Vogue contributor Elizabeth Freemantle also believes throughout history, many women have had their story sidelined. These are the women she writes about.

“I feel passionately about women being accorded equal space, whether it be online or in the history books,” said Ms Freemantle. When asked by SAE why she believes Wikipedia has one of the starkest gender gaps in contemporary culture, she replied there were several reasons.

“One being that historically women’s endeavours were not considered important or significant. This is no longer the case but still 90% of Wikipedia editors are male, so it’s women themselves who need to change this by making sure that women they admire are given the space they deserve.”

To celebrate its long list of female talent and to support female heroism, SAE is encouraging its creative community to continue the BBC’s #100WomenWiki campaign and write about women who inspire them; an initiative supported by gender equality activists Elizabeth Freemantle and Penny Pepper.

“I support any campaign that raises the profile of women creatives and particularly disabled women creatives,” stated Ms Pepper. “Women remain, through discrimination, a huge untapped resource with so much to give. As we strive towards more equality that journey deserves celebrating.”

We think so too and that’s why we’re calling on you to join the global edit-a-thon and rewrite Wikipedia’s gender gap. Let us know who you are adding using #100Womenwiki and tagging @SAEInstitute UK.

How to create a new profile on Wikipedia

  1. Open any Wikipedia article
  2. Click on the URL and highlight the persons name - for example
  3. Change the name to the person you would like to add
  4. Press enter
  5. Wikipedia will then ask if you want to 'Start the Article', click the link
  6. Start writing about the women who inspires you.
  7. In 'Edit Summary' write a short description of what you have done and include the hashtag #100Womenwiki
  8. Save the entry and your article will be published