On July 1, Ada Initiative advisor Sarah Stierch gave a keynote at Wikipedia Academy: Research and Free Knowledge, The Visual Experience – Gender and Ways of Seeing Wikimedia:
According to the Wikimedia Foundation’s most recent community survey, women continue, for the second year in a row, to comprise of approximately nine percent of contributors to Wikipedia and related projects. As researchers try to find the reason why, the Wikimedia Foundation and community members across projects explore ways to improve on that low percentage. What makes the Wikipedia and Wikimedia world so different than other landscapes in which women are active in online? For example, women are more active than men in online communities such as Twitter and Facebook, and also blog more than their gender counterparts. Providing a more visually accessible landscape for participation will most likely be a key component in improving women’s participation in Wikipedia and other projects such as Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia’s online free image repository. This talk will not only explore the hard truth about women’s participation through direct experience, but will also explore what is deterring that participation through one common focus: the visual experience. How do on-wiki new user spaces such as the Wikipedia Teahouse work to attract and retain women? What makes it different visually than other spaces on Wikipedia? How can a call for action through a visual experience attract women via a call for action in a way that the rest of Wikipedia is not? What makes Wikimedia Commons such a challenging attempt at encompassing free content by challenging the public’s expectations of visual collections and how can women help to curate that content? Finding influence in feminist and visual theory about imagery and women’s expectations and experiences, Stierch will break down what she believes needs to happen to create an encompassing landscape that can appeal to women in order to mind the gap of Wikipedia.
A video of Sarah’s talk is available:
Sarah’s slides are also available.