Although Wikipedia is the largest online reference source and has over 40 million articles, it’s massively underrepresented by women.
Only 10 percent of Wikipedia’s editors are female, according to Art+Feminism, a “campaign improving coverage of cis and transgender women, non-binary folks, feminism and the arts on Wikipedia.”
Art+Feminism strives to change this by hosting annual, worldwide edit-a-thons, which are hosted in universities, museums and coffee shops to allow people to come together and edit articles and information about women and art, among other topics, on Wikipedia. Last year, Art+Feminism held 298 worldwide programs, had 3,864 editors, edited 18,100 articles and created over 3,000 new articles.
The organization has been holding edit-a-thons since 2014, and the University of Georgia has hosted an edit-a-thon every year since 2015, marking the March event as the third consecutive year.
Faculty at Lamar Dodd School of Art such as art librarian Lindsey Reynolds, Xin Xin, an assistant professor of media design and women’s studies and Callan Steinmann, the director of education at the Georgia Museum of Art, organize UGA’s edit-a-thon each year and hold them in the art library. The edit-a-thon is open to the public and aims to involve as many people as possible.
This year, Reynolds, Xin and Steinmann were hosting the event in the Lamar Dodd School of Art Library and had two presentations from an expert Wikipedia editor on how to edit an article. However, anyone can be an editor — all you have to do is make an account and start typing.
‘Improving the coverage’
The organization’s goal for 2019 was to focus on nonbinary artists. The organizers worked to find artists and activists who identified as such and whose Wikipedia pages lacked information. Attendees would then come to the event, pick an artist and start editing their page.
“The main purpose is improving the coverage of cis and transgender women and nonbinary artists, but also to train people to edit Wikipedia articles.”
— Xin Xin, assistant professor
Art+Feminism was started by three women and one man — Siân Evans, Jacqueline Mabey, Laurel Ptak and Michael Mandiberg — who felt women’s voices needed to be heard. This is still the main focus of the campaign.
“The main purpose is improving the coverage of cis and transgender women and nonbinary artists, but also to train people to edit Wikipedia articles,” Xin said. “It’s a major increase in media literacy too.”
The topics of art and feminism seem rather specific, but only to people who live outside of the art world. Xin explained both are such umbrella terms with endless disciplines. Yet they do fit together in terms of misrepresentation.
“There’s a pretty strong history in art of there not being equal gender representation and groups working to amend that,” Reynolds said.
Feminism’s expansive definition
The organizers said they believe the simple act of giving people and artists who have been marginalized due to their identity a voice is itself an act of feminism. There’s empowerment in correcting information and provide the right knowledge on subjects that might not otherwise be correct.
This same reason for having the edit-a-thon is what brings people in. Alex Sausa, a freshman art history major from Marietta, Georgia, came to the edit-a-thon to change the misrepresentation on Wikipedia.
“I think it's vital that we have more people distributing information, especially about these topics, so that we know more about these artists and can give this information to others,” Sausa said.
Exposure is another large part of the edit-a-thon. Students may come because they are interested in editing articles or curious about the topic or both and can now participate in this exchange of knowledge. Reynolds and Xin both also place an importance on media literacy and seek to improve that through the edit-a-thon. Reynolds said there’s lots of misleading, biased information and stressed the importance of learning how to determine the perspective of what you’re reading about.
“It's just about providing information about misrepresented people so that others can learn, and people ... can find a community,” Xin said.