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Submissions/How to improve the coverage of women in Wikipedia

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2015.

Submission no.
Title of the submission
Content gender gap: how to improve the coverage of women in Wikipedia
  • Subtitle 1: Raising the profile of women in Wikipedia
  • Subtitle 2: Frauen für Wikipedia!
  • Subtitle 3: Wikitalk XX
  • Subtitle 4: Kom nu, Wiki-pigerne!
  • Subtitle 5: Növeljük a nők jelenlétét!
  • Subtitle 6: Multiplicando Mujeres
  • Subtitle 7: Kom nu, Wiki-pigerne!
  • Subtitle 8: Contribuez à Wikipédia au féminin!
  • Subtitle 9: Wann wird Wikipedia endlich frauenfreundlich?
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)
Presentation and discussion
Author of the submission
  1. Roger Bamkin
  2. Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight
E-mail address
  1. victuallers@gmail.com
  2. rosiestep.wiki@gmail.com
  1. Victuallers
  2. Rosiestep
Country of origin
  1. UK
  2. US
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Personal homepage or blog
  1. Victuallers' Wiki homepage
  2. Rosiestep's Wiki homepage
  • My new articles: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
  • My Did You Know? statistics: 1,137 articles which I've created and/or expanded (by myself or with collaborators) have appeared in the DYK section of the English Wikipedia's mainpage as of 22 Feb 2015. On September 19, 2007, I created an article on Kallawaya people. Another editor noticed it, nominated it at DYK, and a few days later, it appeared in the DYK section of the mainpage; it was my first DYK contribution. On September 18, 2013, the article about Goaribari Island appeared at DYK, and with it, I was the third person (and first woman!) to have 1,000 contributions appear at DYK.
  • Press:
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

From us:

WHAT IS THIS TALK ABOUT? This talk is more than its controversial original title. It addresses an issue that both of us have been working on for over a year. The "gender gap" is a well documented issue on Wikipedia, but we believe boldly that we can fix this more efficiently by concentrating on Wikipedia's real gender gap issue. We have been creating a lot of biographies of notable women and nominating them in the DYK section so that they appear on the main page of Wikipedia. As a result of this work, we have seen only one month where men's and women's biographies had comparable coverage. The world looks to Wikipedia for information. Any bias that we can remove will improve not only the world's view of our information heritage but it will also influence growing minds of the way that they should expect to see our future described.

We intend to not only investigate the existing bias in Wikipedia's presentation of information regarding women, but to suggest ways that this problem can be mitigated across all language Wikipedias. We do not intend to directly effect the number of women editors; that issue is not within the scope of this talk. We intend to focus on improving Wikipedia's coverage of women throughout history. We believe that this will improve the next generation's view of our information heritage in whatever language they read. To make this happen, we are launching here a number of challenges and we intend to launch a new type of Wikiproject.

Our purpose is to create a report and deliver an entertaining and stimulating talk. Our aspiration is that it might make a difference, and our dream is that positive change will occur. In the discussion below you will find further detail but the central point is that we don't want to just highlight this problem we, ambitiously, want to fix it.

Women editors are underrepresented within the editor pool, and a lot of has been written about how to increase the number of women editors, yet the needle doesn't seem to move. So maybe we're going about this in the wrong way. Let's put the spotlight on creating more women's biographies -- through the press, through events, through WikiProject, through translation work, through doing the actual work -- and perhaps this in turn will attract more women editors.

From Roger Bamkin:

I have been working in an informal way with numerous other editors to not just talk about, but to actually do something about systemic bias. This hasn't involved any RFCs or long discussions on meta. A year ago (March 2014) was Women's History month and during that month there was 100s of new articles about women and 175 Did You Know articles on the main page about women. And .... not many people noticed. I'd like to think that our readers were not surprised to find that one day every DYK article on the main page was about a woman. If they did notice.... then maybe we made a positive change. I'd like to talk about some wikiprojects. Not so much about the Wikiprojects that just run forever but the few that we have in this area that have a defined goal.

From Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight:

I'm User:Rosiestep, a Content Admin with >90,000 edits on the English language Wikipedia. Take a look at this: "First Women, Second Sex: Gender Bias in Wikipedia". I does a very good job of summarizing the gap in content using "DBPedia metadata, language modelling, and network theory—to show not just inequality in encyclopedia inclusion, but degrees of sexism in how biographies are included. For instance, how different genders meet notability is quantifiably different, as is the centrality of biographies in their link structure."[1] Roger and I have been working on this problem for quite some time. We hope that the ideas we present here will inspire others to join our ranks and create more women's biographies. We believe our ideas can be replicated across all language Wikipedias. Do you have feedback on how to improve this presentation, or how to answers the questions we pose, or how to undertake the challenges described below? If so, we really want to hear from you!


The Signpost, the English Wikipedia newspaper, offers a weekly synopsis of newly-published articles about Wikipedia. Some of the articles touch on gender while others don't. We haven't done a systematic review of them, and it would be an interesting study. See below for challenges and questions related to content gender gap and the press.


During WikiWomen's History Month, there's a flurry of editing activity creating women's biographies. What can we do to sustain it beyond the month of March? Let's define "flurry" as (a) an increase in women-themed edit-a-thons, and (b) an increase in the number of new articles created about women and/or their works.

  1. WikiWomen's History Month 2012
  2. WikiWomen's History Month 2013
  3. WikiWomen's History Month 2014
  1. In March, many edit-a-thons around the world are centered on women's topics. Of particular note are the ArtAndFeminism edit-a-thons, which are also held in other months, but are prolific in March 2015. While these edit-a-thons are open to all participants, in person and remote, they seem to attract more women editors than other edit-a-thons.
  2. More women's biographies appear in the Did you know? section of the English Wikipedia's mainpage in March than any other month. During the other 11 months, there are more men's biographies each month than women's. Does anyone notice, and if the readership does, how is this perceived? We're not suggesting nor supporting decreasing the amount of men's biographies. See below for challenges and questions related to content gender gap editing differences in March.

¿Dónde está las mujeres? ("Where are the women?"):

Some of us are polyglots and do a lot of translation work into the English language Wikipedia on women's biographies. How about you?

  1. Machine translation is a good start, but the editor has to have a degree of proficiency in a foreign language in order to successfully create a new article. There are millions of women's biographies and articles about women's works on other language Wikipedias, which have not been translated into every language Wikipedia. What can we do to motivate bilingual editors to become involved in this work?
  2. Let's involve all the universities of the world to work on this translation project. What if every adequately-bilingual university student translated a woman's biography from Foo-X Wikipedia to Foo-Y Wikipedia? How would we go about it? Could we cross-promote this idea with the WikiEducation team as a new initiative?
  3. From User Ipigott: "I know that in Norway, Wikipedia has benefited enormously from collaboration between the local cultural institutions (libraries, museums and archives) and schools where children are given incentives about making contributions related to their own area or their own interests. You suggest involving universities. Why not start with the schools? Maybe a programme could be developed to add one country a month with the help of WikiProjects and the cultural institutions? I think it would be worthwhile sounding out. It would also help students to improve their command of English although they should also be encouraged to write in their own languages too."


  1. I, Rosie, am the founder of WikiProject Women writers. Our members have created hundreds of new articles about women writers and their works since project inception, August 2014. The founders of WikiProject Women scientists, WikiProject Women artists, and WikiProject Women's History are awesome women Wikipedians who have spearheaded drives to increase the number of articles within their projects' scopes. What can we do to promote women-centered WikiProjects?
  1. Should we create more WikiProjects centered on women's occupations in order to promote more work on women's articles? Would more women "readers" become "editors" if they knew of a WikiProject that matches their interests?
  2. WikiProject X is conducting research on what factors contribute to a successful WikiProject. Would WikiProject X be able to give us guidance on how to motivate editors to create more women's biographies beyond the areas already mentioned in this presentation?


  1. Wikimedia Sweden has developed a long-term editathon schedule related to creating/expanding women's biography articles. Other chapters are doing similar things. I am keen on Chapters and feel they are instrumental to organizing local editathons (and other events), which would support the scope of this talk.
  2. You don't need an incorporated chapter to run women-centered editathons. There are clusters all around us which do this on a regular basis. I'm familiar with the "Los Angeles" group, but surely there are others.


  1. The XX Hackathon challenge Can you identify what the gender balance is in Wikipedia irrespective of language? Have we made any difference over the last few years. How many articles would we need to create or improve to make a difference? Can we use your tool to measure it? Is it easy to use if you don't speak English? Are you available to be in Mexico to receive out thanks?
  2. How does the press effect creation or improvement of articles about women? If gender and Wikipedia are discussed in the press:
  3. Does "negative press", such as the Gamergate controversy, have a negative affect on the creation and/or improvement of women's biographies?
  4. Does "positive press", such as this interview, have a positive affect on the creation and/or improvement of women's biographies?
  5. (There will be several)


We're contacting other editors in this area. We're asking them:

  1. Is there a way that we can improve our productivity in creating articles about women?
  2. Should we try to edit articles about more non-English speaking and/or non-Anglo women?
  3. Are new articles enough? Should we just make sure articles are well linked and well cited?
  4. Is there data on the success (failure) of overcoming systemic bias in Wikipedia?
  5. Do women-themed editathons/wikiprojects help?
  6. We have some ideas for other projects that may assist us with this work. What do you think?
  7. Can we sustain the enthusiasm for ArtAndFeminism events throughout the year? Can we expand on the ArtAndFeminism brand, for example, "PenAndFeminism" (women writers), "ScienceAndFeminism", "SportsAndFeminism", "PoliticsAndFeminism", and so on?
  8. Could chapters be the key to incentivizing editors to work on women's biographies? What would a best practice look like?
  9. In addition to Chapters, which focus groups around the world are hosting women-themed events? What are they doing? How successful is it?
  10. Many editathons are held at GLAM or university locations. Can we push the boundaries of "where" and "when" in order to increase participation and article creation?
  11. How can we get journalists to regularly cover women-themed edit-a-thons?
  12. Some editathons offer "swag", stickers, t-shirts, and the like. Has anyone offered Amazon gift cards?
  • WikiCulture & Community
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
  1. Maybe
  2. Maybe
Slides or further information (optional)
  1. Recent articles created by Victuallers
  2. Recent articles created by Rosiestep.
  3. Very short old YouTube video of Victuallers talking about Wikipedia showing some facts (and some humour)
Special requests

Interested attendees

If you are interested in attending this session, please sign with your username below. This will help reviewers to decide which sessions are of high interest. Sign with a hash and four tildes. (# ~~~~).

Add your username here.

  1. T. Anthony (talk) 03:06, 13 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Margott (talk) 08:56, 20 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Bmcln1 (talk) 22:38, 22 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Whiteghost.ink (talk) 22:41, 22 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Cirt (talk) 22:47, 22 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  6. SusunW (talk) 23:19, 22 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  7. Iamthecheese44 (talk) 23:50, 22 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Penny Richards (talk) 23:54, 22 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Sadads (talk) 02:34, 23 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  10. Keilana (talk) 03:51, 23 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  11. Montanabw (talk) 04:55, 23 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  12. Jim Carter (talk) 06:38, 23 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  13. Jaredzimmerman (WMF) (talk) 08:54, 23 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  14. Ipigott (talk) 09:08, 23 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  15. Gobonobo (talk) 11:39, 23 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  16. Randolph.hollingsworth (talk) 13:39, 23 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  17. --Netha Hussain (talk) 16:59, 23 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  18. BenLinus1214 (talk) 20:23, 23 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  19. Hmlarson (talk) 20:31, 23 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  20. Margott (talk) 13:56, 24 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  21. User:Ser Amantio di Nicolao
  22. I JethroBT (talk) 08:25, 25 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  23. Dr. Blofeld (talk) 20:54, 25 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  24. Harej (talk) 02:43, 27 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  25. Jeremyb (talk) 22:13, 27 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  26. John Andersson (WMSE) (talk) 23:55, 27 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  27. Figureskatingfan (talk) 22:17, 28 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  28. Wotancito (talk) 07:06, 1 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  29. CT Cooper · talk 20:45, 1 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  30. ACrockford (talk) 20:04, 6 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  31. Rdicerb (WMF)
  32. Trans Goat (talk) 10:23, 11 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  33. LonguevilleConti (talk) 00:28, 24 March 2015 (UTC)#[reply]
  34. Rtbhive (talk) 12:28, 24 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  35. --Roxyuru (talk) 22:43, 20 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  36. Jaluj (talk) 14:58, 9 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  37. Melina Masnatta (WMAR) (talk) 09:44, 14 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]


  • Footnote1: How to pick up more women... is meant to be an attention-grabbing title. It is not meant to offend; nor to be construed as misogynistic. The pun refers to picking up more articles about women to counter systemic bias in the content of Wikipedia. Both of us have created hundreds of articles to address this problem. The title is not about women editors but about articles about women as should have been more clear possibly. However this talk is not about the gender gap but about the systemic bias in Wikipedia. Victuallers (talk) 00:36, 1 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • Well you may not have meant to be offensive, but that's how it comes off. Having lived my entire life in the shadow of unthinking sexism in American culture, I find the title incredibly sexist and demeaning - certainly not what I'd expect from an outfit attempting to include more women. You may think it's incredibly cute - but it's really nasty. I personally don't care how many articles you've written on this topic, your title is an insult and should be changed. I've no interest in your conference because if you think this is funny, I have no desire to sit through the cute rape jokes or whatever else you have up your sleeves. Ellin Beltz (talk) 22:25, 28 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • I originally signed here in support of the goal of bringing more women editors to Wikipedia and other projects, and because of the respect and admiration I have for Rosie and all she's done. I thought the title was a strange choice, but now that I see it offends a classy lady I respect, and has to be explained as not being meant to offend, I have to remove my name from it. Now that I think of it, if you take women editors seriously, why not use a serious title, rather than something that may offend women? How is it worth it to take the chance of offending women, and grabbing the wrong kind of attention, when the goal is to attract women editors? INeverCry 22:59, 28 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • We asked for feedback. You gave it. The title has been changed. --Rosiestep (talk) 03:30, 1 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • A brilliant solution. Pickup Culture is incredibly vile, manipulative and misogynistic and I don't think the association would help your cause in any way. Thank you very much. Liz (talk) 16:38, 3 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]


  1. Wikimedia Research Newsletter, Vol 5, Issue 2 (February 2015). Retrieved on 1 March 2015.