History has been unkind to women of color. Now's your chance to fix that - Technical.ly DC


Mar. 17, 2016 8:59 am

History has been unkind to women of color. Now’s your chance to fix that

An upcoming Wikipedia edit-a-thon seeks to diversify the internet's encyclopedia. The Smithsonian and a handful of other big-name institutions are involved.

The edit-a-thon will be held at the National Museum of the American Indian.

(Photo by Flickr user O Palsson, used under a Creative Commons license)

Did you know that there’s widespread consensus that the internet’s foremost encyclopedia, Wikipedia, is largely written from the perspective of young, white men?

Given the site’s volunteer editor structure, it doesn’t have to be this way. Still, studies have shown that female editors, not to mention editors of color, are severely underrepresented. A famous Wikimedia Foundation and United Nations University study found that less than 13 percent of Wikipedia editors are female. A follow-up study suggested that research methods may have contributed to this extremely low number, and raised the estimate to 16 percent.

Obviously, this is still far from ideal.

The problem with a largely homogeneous editor force, commentators argue, is not that they are young, white men per say, but rather that the information they produce is, by necessity, written from the perspective of a young, white man. This, again by necessity, leaves out a multitude of perspectives and voices.

Want to do something about this? You’re in luck — the Smithsonian Institution Archives, in partnership with the Asian Pacific American Center, the Latino Center, the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, will be hosting a Wikipedia edit-a-thon this Saturday, March 19.

The goal? “Learn how to write minority women into digital history!”

The event is free — there will be presentations by Smithsonian curators and organizers promise a “supportive environment” to learn about editing Wikipedia entries.


Find more information, and RSVP, here.

Tajha Chappellet-Lanier

Tajha Chappellet-Lanier is the lead reporter for Technical.ly DC. The California native previously worked for NPR and the editorial board at USA Today. She can talk travel plans all day, and has strong opinions on the best doughnut in D.C.


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