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Belmont hosts Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon for Women’s History Month

To celebrate Women’s History Month, the Lila D. Bunch library hosted a “Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon” Monday morning to help bridge the gender gap in Wikipedia articles.

Students and faculty learned how to correctly edit and add articles to Wikipedia, especially those about women.

“We love Wikipedia, but also as librarians want to help improve it,” said Jenny Mills, coordinator of research services.

Wikipedia has a notable gender gap in both its contributors and content.

There are 1.6 million biographical articles on Wikipedia, and only 18 percent of those are written about women, according to Wikidata Human Gender Indicators.

A reason for this is that all Wikipedia articles must have verified secondary sources, which can be historically difficult to find about women.

“Women are missing from the historical record. It’s not just a Wikipedia problem, it’s a history problem,” said Mills.

A disproportionately large number of male editors has also been suspected of playing a role in the content imbalance on Wikipedia.

“90 percent of the contributors are male; it’s a huge, huge imbalance,” said Mills.

To solve the problem, men and women alike are teaming up to host edit-a-thons to edit and add new pages about women to Wikipedia.

“It’s easy,” said librarian Nicole Fox. “You don’t need anything to get started other than a computer with an internet connection.”

These edit-a-thons are already affecting Wikipedia’s content.

“They really have had an impact on both the quantity and quality of articles about women,” Mills said.

Although it may not seem like a big deal, it’s a small way to repair the gender gaps of history, Fox said.

“A good Wikipedia article has power,” said Fox. “It can open up knowledge to something that you might never have pursued.”

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This article written by Sarah Lawson.

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