Wikipedia’s gender gap, and what would Hari Seldon do about it?
View the slides on Wikimedia Commons
Though the mission of Wikipedia is “to offer ‘the sum of all human knowledge’” in a format that can be legally copied, modified, and redistributed to everyone, at no cost, it has been criticized for exhibiting various forms of systemic bias. Struggling with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, this presentation focuses on Wikipedia’s gender gaps: the low percentage of women editors and the equally low percentage of articles about women, their works, and their issues. Gender gaps have persisted on Wikipedia for years since researchers first began reporting their findings.
Various communities of Wikipedians around the world are working to improve Wikipedia’s gender gaps. Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight gives an overview on the topic, provides findings of the 2017 Wikimedia Gender Diversity Mapping study, where she interviewed 65 Wikimedia women leaders from around the world, and explains how a “small group of nobodys” are making a difference in improving the “multilingual, web-based, free encyclopedia based on a model of openly editable content... which is the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet.”1 With the objective of inspiring a new audience to “be bold” and join the international ranks of volunteers (more than 35 million registered users on English Wikipedia alone) who write, edit, and add references to Wikipedia’s articles, Rosie incorporates Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, the fictional psychohistorian, Hari Seldon, and his Encyclopedia Galactica, a compilation of the knowledge of a dying galactic empire, in this session.
About Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight
Dame Rosie Gojich Stephenson-Goodknight is a Visiting Scholar at Northeastern University, Women Writers Project, in Boston, Massachusetts. For several years, she was an Adjunct Professor on the Faculty of Health Administration at the University of Phoenix. Rosie serves as Vice President of Wikimedia District of Columbia, in Washington, DC., and sits on the Board of Advisors of Women in Journalism. In 2016, she retired from Davita Healthcare Partners, where, for 26 years, she served in various roles including government contracting and talent acquisition.
A prolific Wikipedia editor, Rosie has created almost 5,000 new articles. She is the founder of Wikipedia’s project on Women Writers, and the co-founder of its project devoted to increasing the percentage of women’s biographies, a project that also aims at improving Wikipedia’s editor gender gap, and applies measures to counteract Wikipedia’s harassment of women. For her efforts, she was named the Wikipedian of the Year in 2016, and in the same year, was shortlisted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)/United Nations Women as the GEM-TECH laureate for her work in applying technology for women’s empowerment and digital inclusion.
Rosie was knighted by the Republic of Serbia in 2018. She has been a keynote speaker and featured speaker at international conferences on topics of gender diversity and historical bias, and has spoken about the use of structured data as a strategy tool. She has also been a guest lecturer for many years regarding workforce issues. Rosie holds an MBA from California State University San Marcos, and is an alumni of the University of California San Diego’s Healthcare Executive Leadership Program. She makes her home in Nevada City, California, where she marches as Helen Taft in the Famous Marching Presidents and First Ladies section of the city’s annual Constitution Day Parade.
About the Distinguished Seminar Series
OCLC Research established the Distinguished Seminar Series in 1978 to encourage the sharing of thought leadership around topics that effect the ever-evolving world of librarianship and information sharing. We invite distinguished professionals to our headquarters in Dublin, Ohio, to give presentations on topics of current interest. Speakers may discuss recently completed or early-stage research that they have undertaken or report other types of professional activity. Some topics align closely with our current research directions, while others represent areas of interest to the library and information science community that are not formally being studied by our researchers.