Edit-a-thon helps close Wikipedia’s gender gap [photos]

Maybe you’ve never heard of the artists Chrissy Conant or Philadelphia native Nancy Cox-McCormack.

Now, if you wanted to find more information about them, they each have their own Wikipedia pages thanks to a local editing project run by the organization Art+Feminism.

On Saturday, about 15 people met at the University of the Arts library first to learn how to edit on Wikipedia, then to create or add content to pages about women in the arts.

“It went very well,” said Sara MacDonald, a UArts librarian and organizer of the event. “It was very chatty during the training, lots of questions about Wikipedia, but once people started working it was a quiet intense atmosphere.”

Four new artist pages were created Saturday, and another 13 were updated.

Though it’s the largest online encyclopedia in the world, Wikipedia suffers from a major gender gap when it comes to its editors. A 2011 survey found that just 8.5 percent of its contributors were women.

The organization Art+Feminism aims to improve those numbers by hosting edit-a-thons focused on encouraging women to add content to Wikipedia, particularly in the category of women in the arts.

Sian Evans helped found Art+Feminism in 2013, and more than 600 people in 31 locations participated in the first edit-a-thon last year.

“Part of our mission as a group isn’t just to close the gender gap in terms of content, but also to close it in terms of participation,” Evans told NewsWorks last week. “We want to train women how to get involved, how to edit articles and feel comfortable doing so. It’s partially about empowerment as well.”

This year, Philly’s edit-a-thon came a week before the main New York City event held March 7 and 8, to coincide with International Women’s Day.

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