Category Archives: Race

Feminist encounters on Wikipedia


For anyone interested in Wikipedia’s gender gap and living or visiting in and around New York City, a panel that is open to the public this Wednesday, April 1, offers a discussion about the continued gap, feminism and intersectionality in digital labor.

FemTechNet and the The New School’s School of Media Studies, who are organizing the event, are also offering this discussion as a livestream.

Please see more details below.

Feminist Encounters with Wikipedia Panel Discussion

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 at 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Wollman Hall, Eugene Lang College
65 West 11th Street (Room B500), 5th Floor
New York, NY 10003


This panel will address systemic gaps in participation in editing Wikipedia, where the editor base is currently 87% male. Unsurprisingly, consistent underrepresentation is also reflected in content and coverage throughout the digital cultural archive. Recent feminist initiatives have garnered much coverage and attention in countering these proven biases. Results of these efforts have built significant entry points for engaging Wikipedia practically and critically. In addition to reporting on the quantitative aspects of these successes, this panel will explore potentially unexpected questions around digital labor, intersectionality and sustainability that emerge in designing feminist encounters with Wikipedia.


Panelists will include:
-Anne Balsamo (Dean of School of Media Studies at The New School for Public Engagement)
-Marcea Decker (Master’s Candidate in Parsons The New School for Design’s MS Design and Urban Ecologies program)
-Dorothy Howard (former Wikipedian-in-Residence at the Metropolitan New York Library Council and co-organizer of Art+Feminism campaign)
-Antoinette LaFarge (Professor of Art in Digital Media at University of California, Irvine). Veronica Paredes (Lecturer at School of Media Studies) will moderate.


Sponsored by the School of Media Studies and FemTechNet.


Howard University adds Black histories to Wikipedia

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Students and faculty at Howard University in Washington D.C. came together on February 19, 2015 for a Wikpedia-Edit-A-Thon to add urgently needed Black history to Wikipedia. As the New York Times wrote: “To many people, a topic does not exist if it does not have a Wikipedia page.”

That Wikipedia is being edited by a large majority of white Western men, as the New York Times also previously reported, has sparked many such editing events to correct these author and connected content biases. Most of these, however, have been geared toward adding the histories of women.

In this latest edition, scholars expanded existing histories of Black scientists, doctors and designers and added missing Black women, men and organizations to the online encyclopedia.

More such events are planned for the future. Perhaps it is time to start a Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon in Detroit? Wikid GRRLS would be game.

Tech writing dominated by white men

Jamelle Bouie posted an article for The Magazine (issue 7) headlined: “An implicit network, not overt racism, keeps tech writing dominated by white men.” His point is that few (that is, there are a few, but not many) people of color are staff and regular contributors to technology magazines, websites, or blogs. Even his own The Magazine, he says, has “issues” with diversity: of the 26 people who contributed to the first six issues, 22 were white men.

Moreover, he notes that everyone uses gadgets, with African Americans and Latinos, for example, using Twitter and Facebook at higher rates than whites. (Bouie’s reference to color does not mean, of course, South Asians and Southeast Asians.)

He partly chalks up the problem for African Americans and Latinos to internships—and the economic issue of who can afford to take an unpaid internship. The same social-economic issue MAY be connected to who enjoys the social status or networks needed (or at least convenient) to breaking into technology journalism.

I don’t think internships are the major issue, since our research indicates that with many such issues (and certainly the relative lack of women throughout STEM fields) begins WAAAY before college and the question of internships. Such notions about what one can or cannot do, what one is likely to be successful or a failure at, begin in childhood. Early childhood. Certainly the internships would not explain why so few white women are writing about technology.

But he is correct, and totally on point, that the technology community is large and diverse: “We should want the community of people who write about it to mirror that diversity. We have nothing to lose, and a huge wealth of perspectives and experiences to gain.”

Thus the need for early education programs to give kids early confidence that they can develop and use online skills, and contribute their knowledge. And we really hope that Wikid GRRLS will attract African American and Latinas girls.