‘Who was his mother?’ This is a question that Wikipedians (male, most of them, according to statistics) rarely seem to ask themselves when writing a biography on Wikipedia. On the contrary, the question ‘who was her father?’ seems to preoccupy a lot of them, seeing how fast the answer comes in an article about a woman. This may come as a result of the low percentage of women contributors on Wikipedia (between 5.2 and 13.6% according to the Wikimedia Foundation in 2018).
The gender bias emerges from the neoliberal and patriarchal assumption that if a woman achieves a prestigious position to earn herself a Wikipedia page, then it must necessarily be because of the influence of her father, brother, uncle, son, you name it… Only men have the privilege to be rewarded for their individual undertaking. Meritocracy seems to be invented by and for men. If the famous adage ‘Behind every great man is a great woman’ still holds true - and pays tribute to women that carry out daily unnoticed activities while the men around them pursue great careers - , the truth makers of the digital age have turned the saying around to ‘Behind every great woman is a great man’.
Art+Feminism and Wikimedia Norge both show great concern to make women visible and erase the gender biases that feed a sexist writing of history. Art+Feminism started a campaign of Wikipedia edit-a-thons to encourage women to contribute to Wikipedia, and write articles about women that have not yet found their way across the male-dominated digital sphere and on the giant net-based encyclopaedia. Wikimedia Norge shares the same concern, and both of them fund initiatives like ours to make Wikipedia a feminist place; one without discrimination and implicit (or explicit for that matter) prejudice against people of various gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity, age, culture, or political orientation.
On Sunday the 10th of March 2019, my colleague Hannah Ackermans and I ran a Art+Feminism edit-a-thon at Bergen’s public library, in association with the feminist organisation Kvinnegruppa Ottar. On the 8th of March demonstration, we feminists fought against hail, snow and rain, and two days later we were there again fighting divine punishment, having an exceptionally warm and sunny winter day while holding an indoor feminist workshop. This comes along my research project on affirmative creative works that challenge the current relations of gender and power through digital media (funded by Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions). Art+Feminism edit-a-thons are a fantastic way to empower cis-, trans- and queer women, urging them to re-write history and make sure no one takes their own stories from them.
Broek, Jantine. “Re:visit: Women of WWII Memorials”, The Re:War Project (Blog), 26 Feb. 2019
Popova, Maria. “Literary Witches: An Illustrated Celebration of Trailblazing Women Writers who Have Enchanted and Transformed the World”, Brain Picklings, 7 Feb. 2018
Reser, Anna. “Hiding in Plain Sight”, Lady Science (Blog), 24 Apr. 2018
Thompson, Clive. "The Secret History of Women in Coding”, The New York Times Magazine, 13 Feb. 2019
Valdivia Rude, Mey. “10 Trans Women Pioneers They Definitely Didn’t Tell You About In History Class”, Autostraddle, 15 Nov. 2015
Yong, Ed. "The Women Who Contributed to Science but Were Buried in Footnotes”, The Atlantic, 11 Feb. 2019