Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Posts Tagged ‘Women’

Creating Safe Spaces

This morning I read an article entitled Ride like a girl. In it, the author describes how being a cyclist in a city is like being a woman: Welcome to being vulnerable to the people around you. Welcome to being the exception, not the rule. Welcome to not being in charge. The analogy may not be a perfect fit, but reading these words made me think of a tweet I favorited several weeks ago when #YesAllWomen was trending. A user who goes by the handle @Saradujour wrote: “If you don’t understand why safe spaces are important, the world is probably one big safe space to you.” As I continue interviewing women who edit Wikipedia and as I read through the latest threads on the Gendergap mailing list, I keep asking myself, “How can a community that values transparency create safe spaces? How can we talk about Wikipedia’s gender gap without alienating dissenting voices and potential allies?”

Ride like a girl?

Wikipedia’s gender gap has been widely publicized and documented both on and off Wiki (and on this blog since 1 February 2011). One of the reasons I was drawn to working on the gender gap as a research project was that, despite the generation of a great deal of conversation, there seem to be very few solutions. It is, what Rittel and Webber would call, a “wicked problem.” Even in the midst of the ongoing work of volunteers who spearhead and contribute to endeavors like WikiProject Women scientists, WikiWomen’s History Month, WikiProject Women’s sport and Meetup/ArtandFeminism (to name only a few), the gender gap is a wicked problem a lot of community members–even those dedicated to the topic–seem tired of discussing.

The Women and Wikipedia IEG project is designed to collect and then provide the Wikimedia community with aggregate qualitative and quantitative data that can be used to assess existing efforts to address the gender gap. This data may also be used to guide the design of future interventions or technology enhancements that seek to address the gap. The data may include but not be limited to:

Women Scientists Workshop Development Update

Editors at a LUC Women Scientists Workshop.

The Women Scientists Workshop Development IEG [1] is a project aimed at empowering women college students by encouraging them to create content about women scientists on English Wikipedia.

We worked tirelessly through the cold Chicago winter, motivated by the desire to address Wikipedia’s gender gap. We held a series of seven workshops in addition to three that were held the previous semester. We’ve since gained valuable insight as we move into the next phase of developing a best-practice kit for countering systemic bias in institutions.
Many important principles were discerned from the workshops we held in our first semester. We spent weeks categorizing this information into a trial kit for other institutions to use. Of the 23 individuals who attended the first semester workshops, two were male and 21 (91%) were female. Five (22%) came to more than one workshop. 30 different articles were created or significantly improved. Interestingly, only one participant found out about the workshop through flyers placed in high-traffic areas throughout the school. The rest of the attendants found out through word of mouth (friends, Facebook, email etc). This was not what we expected. One of the workshops was not promoted on social media channels and consequently experienced a low attendance rate because of it.

Food is a huge motivator for college students!

Several common threads were apparent when students were asked questions regarding the motivation behind their attendance. The most common factors are food, social environment and social justice. These motivations held steady through the second semester workshops. We believe that there are several different elements that help encourage new editors, especially women, to join and work on systemic bias issues. Incentives like free food from popular local restaurants and unique merchandise from the Wikimedia Foundation were a big draw for students, but many women were also motivated by the fun and friendly social environment and the opportunity to learn something interesting. We have found that advertisements that emphasize all of these factors are the most effective, especially when distributed via popular social media channels and direct email to participants who have already signed up.
We have finalized the kit and will be working with a student graphic designer to make the kit more visually appealing. We are also setting up alpha tests – if you are interested in participating, please contact me at keilanawiki@gmail.com. The mid point report for this project provided detailed metrics on this pilot phase of the program. Metrics from alpha testers will be made public as soon as we have them. In our workshops, more than 70 articles were created or expanded and there was a core group of women that returned to the workshops each week and forged strong friendships that have continued beyond the workshops.

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Cancer Research UK, Royal Society and Women Fellows

The photo shows the entrance of one of the Cancer Research UK buildings

The Cambridge Research Institute, one of CRUK’s main research centres.

This post was written by John Byrne, Wikimedian in Residence at both Cancer Research UK and the Royal Society and was first published on the Wikimedia UK blog

I’m fortunate to have been appointed as Wikipedian in Residence at Cancer Research UK (CRUK), the world’s largest cancer research charity, funding over 4,000 research staff working on cancer. The role will run until mid-December 2014 and is funded by Wellcome Trust, a large UK medical research charitable foundation. I’ll be based at CRUK’s London headquarters, the Angel Building in Islington, working there four days a week. Alongside this, until early July I will also be continuing my six month term, on a one day a week basis, in the same role at the Royal Society, the UK’s National Academy of Science.

Part of the role at CRUK will be to work with the existing medical editors on the English Wikipedia to improve our articles on cancer topics, in particular those on the four common cancers which are widely recognised as having the greatest “unmet need” due to little improvement in survival rates in recent decades. These are cancers of the lung, pancreas, brain and oesophagus. CRUK has just announced a new research strategy with an increased focus on these types of cancers, and my role will complement that. I will also be addressing other cancer-related content, for example in relation to the Medical Translation Project of WikiProject Medicine.

CRUK has access, through its own staff and its access to other researchers and clinicians, to tremendous amounts of expertise, both in terms of science and the communication of science, where they have teams trained and experienced in communicating with a wide range of distinct audiences, from those who write their patient information pages in very plain English to the different teams who produce material for scientists and for general audiences. My boss, Henry Scowcroft, writes for CRUK’s award-winning science blog, and is a Wikipedian. I’ll be exploring a number of approaches in hopes of bringing all this expertise to bear on Wikipedia’s content.

Wikimania 2014 in London, about a mile from CRUK’s HQ, is a great opportunity to bring CRUK and many medical Wikipedians together face to face. A novel aspect of the role is that we are planning to conduct research into the experiences on a range of different types of consumers of Wikipedia’s cancer content. There has been very little formal qualitative research into the experiences of Wikipedia’s readers – we hope this project will begin to address this gap, as well as encourage others to carry out similar projects.

I will also be making presentations and conducting training for key groups of CRUK staff and researchers at their five main research centers in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Oxford and Cambridge. Some of this will be traditional how-to-edit training, but I will also be doing some workshops aimed at people who want to contribute reviews and comments, but who don’t expect to do much editing themselves.

On another tack, I will be working on releasing suitable CRUK images on open licenses and uploading them onto Wikimedia Commons. I think the medical diagrams CRUK has created will be especially useful in Wikipedia articles. We’re already making substantial progress towards a substantial release of content.

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Wikimedia India hosts Wikipedia women’s workshop in Mumbai

(This guest post by Aditi Vashisht and Netha Hussain is part of the series on the WikiWomen’s Collaborative)

Participants at the first Mumbai Wikipedia Workshop for Women

On Sunday, 4 November 2012, Wikimedians from Mumbai, India, conducted a Wikipedia workshop for women at Vidyalankar Institute of Technology,Wadala. The event was aimed at introducing women who are not yet editing Wikipedia to the website and teaching them how to edit.

“Lots of women are interested in editing Wikipedia, but sometimes they need to be specially invited to join in,” said Bishakha Datta, one of the primary organizers of the workshop. “Doing this workshop was a chance to strategically get women to participate by creating an event meant for them, where they could freely ask questions, including basic ones, without feeling silly or stupid.”

Wikipedia editors Krutikaa Jawanjal and Pradeep Mohandas, who facilitated the event, were motivated to conduct a women’s workshop for bridging the gender gap that exists in Wikipedia. A lot of preparations were done ahead of time. Vidyalankar Institute of Technology was found to be the best place to conduct the workshop among all venues investigated by the team of organizers. The volunteers got together to discuss the agenda and the schedule of the event and planned their respective sessions.

Over one hundred participants signed up for to attend on the workshop’s Wikipedia page. A Facebook page was created for the event, where approximately 50 participants registered. Interested participants also emailed Wikipedia’s volunteer customer service group, OTRS. The enthusiasm was so high among the participants that registration had to be closed down a couple of days before the workshop. Some of the interested attendees had experimented with editing Wikipedia, and they had started asking questions to the organizers even before the event was launched! All participants who created an account were sent welcome messages by the organizers.

“The pre-meetup preparations involved more than 50 days of work. Two meetups were conducted for planning the workshop. The whole process involved a lot of hard work, yet it was fun,” said Karthik Nadar, the Secretary of Wikimedia India Chapter.

The workshop was a full day event with a lot of fun activities. More than 70 participants attended. After an introduction by the organizers, the participants were divided into groups and one facilitator was allotted to each group. The facilitator helped their group to create and expand a Wikipedia article by themselves. During the lunch break, the participants were served pav bhaji, an Indian delicacy. The participants moved around and made friends with each other and the organizers during the lunch break.

During the afternoon session, the participants asked to clarify their doubts about editing. Organizers gave a brief introduction about the Wikimedia India Chapter, and they conducted sessions sessions on How to add references to a Wikipedia article and How to upload pictures to Commons. The much awaited results of Wiki Loves Monuments India were declared after the sessions. Organizers also conducted a Wiki-Quiz and the winners were given t-shirts and other Wikimedia goodies!

Conducting the workshop was a memorable experience to the team of organizers. Krutikaa said her best memories included the ones where she had to resolve doubts and answer questions about editing Wikipedia. Wikimedian Rohini Lakshane said that it was thrilling to see the joy on the faces of the participants when their edits went live. She said she is planning to organize more workshops in the future because she thinks that workshops of this kind can make the community grow. For Karthik, the workshop was not about the number of participants, but about the number of people who are excited to edit Wikipedia.

The event was covered by various newspapers and websites. Videos on various aspects of Wikipedia were created during and after the event by a team of journalists. Techgross, an online daily for news-related to technology, reported: “Here is wishing that many more such workshops are held across India, Techgoss is sure there are many takers.”

(The Mumbai community is planning to conduct similar events in various parts of the city in the coming months and we’ll provide further updates soon.)

Aditi Vashisht and Netha Hussain

Why Wikipedians should love librarians

Merrilee wants YOU to work with your local libraries to improve Wikipedia!

Last year marked the start of Wikipedia Loves Libraries (WLL), and in 2012, WLL activities are in full swing, with many events planned in the coming month. WLL was originally conceived as a way of celebrating Open Access Week, but we now have WLL events throughout the year. As a librarian who is interested in seeing more coordination between libraries and other cultural heritage organizations (i.e. GLAM), I’d like to offer some perspectives on why libraries and Wikipedia are so well aligned with one another.

The bottom line is that we share a common mission. We are dedicated to providing free access to information and knowledge. Wikipedians want to strengthen their articles by citing credible sources. If those sources are in print, or hidden behind paywalls, it undermines the important tenant of free access.

Libraries collect those same credible sources and make them freely available to patrons. Partnering with libraries helps keep sources free. Librarians value “information literacy,” which means teaching the general public to recognize, appreciate and rely on credible sources. Sound familiar? Teaching basic Wikipedia editing skills can be a great, practical way to re-enforce information literacy skills.

Encouraging more librarians to become Wikipedians will also help address the gender gap. Librarians are an almost mirror image of Wikipedians in terms of gender – a March 2012 survey of members of the American Library Association found that 80.7 percent of those in the profession are female (versus about 10 percent of Wikipedians).

So, if you haven’t already, reach out to your local librarian. Suggest a WLL event, or find out if you can use library space to hold an editathon on a topic of local interest. Ask for help from your library in promoting events, not only to library patrons, but also to staff. Be patient, and recognize that librarians may move at a slower pace than Wikipedians (and that they have a range of other events and activities on top of their day-to-day duties). Be complementary to see if you can find a way for Wikipedia activities to harmonize with areas where the library is already investing. If you make the effort, I think you’ll have a good shot at creating a beautiful partnership, and creating some new Wikipedians in the process.

-Merrilee Proffitt, Senior Program Officer, OCLC Research (User:Mlet)

 

Wikipedia Club Pune celebrates WikiWomen Day

WikiWomen Day participants

Sunday, 28th October 2012, was “WikiWomen Day” in Pune, India. The day brought together women from a variety of educational backgrounds, castes, creeds, religions, and age groups. The purpose of the gathering was to both educate women about the huge gender gap that exists within Wikipedia and to encourage women to contribute.

The workshop was held by “Wikipedia Club Pune” in PAI International Learning Solutions, Azam Campus, Pune, India. The workshop began at 10:00am with approximately 25 attendees. The first session explained the issues surrounding the lack of women editors. This session was an eye-opener for attendees about the huge gender gap within Wikipedia. Next, we offered a “How to get Hands-on on Wikipedia” program. The majority of attendees didn’t know how to edit Wikipedia, therefore, they had to start from scratch with tasks such as creating a username, and learning about Wikipedia policies and guidelines, and its principles, such as the Five Pillars. After a thorough review, we presented the basics of editing.

Later in the afternoon, there was a breakout session where everyone got an opportunity to interact with one another while enjoying a lunch of burgers and soft drinks. Following that, there was Indic language session where attendees were introduced to the multi-lingual aspects of Wikipedia. After that was the “Collaborative Contribution” session where we put our newly acquired skills to work. In this session, we expanded the “Helen Keller” article in Marathi. This page was originally started by an anonymous editor with a single line of text. Within a half hour, the entire page was developed, telling a comprehensive story of her life. This collaborative experience was marvelous and my favorite session of the day. After this session, we distributed participation certificates to everyone and encouraged our motivated attendees to continue editing Wikipedia.

Last but not the least, the workshop ended with the cake-cutting ceremony, which was also the launch for “Wikipedia Summit India 2013,” to be held in January. The Summit will focus on Wikipedia’s gender gap and provide action-oriented workshops focused on closing the gap.

-Ketaki Pole (User:Ketaki Pole)