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Wikipedia editing brings light to gender gap in art history and criticism

Although it may seem that everything can be found on Wikipedia, this is not necessarily the case, as many people find women artists underrepresented in comparison to male artists on the popular website.

Because of this issue, Brooke Duffy, Coordinator of Instruction Librarian and the Library Liaison to Art and Art History, Women and Gender Studies and Africana Studies, hosted the “Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon” in Walsh Library on Feb. 26.

According to the University’s website, Art + Feminism is a non-profit organization that provides educational resources on the gender gap in both art history and criticism and in Wikipedia editing. The event was also held in conjunction with the Gregory Coates exhibition in Walsh Gallery and was co-sponsored by The Feminist Art Project at Rutgers University. 

“I wanted to highlight that we are all active participants in the information landscape who have the agency not only to critically think about the information we use, but also to contribute to the information that other people use,” Duffy said. “Becoming a Wikipedia editor is a really empowering way that a person can use their education and skills to impact the information world.”

Attendees were provided with a list of female artists that were selected from Rutgers' Miriam Shapiro Archive on female artists who do not have Wikipedia pages or have incomplete Wikipedia entries. During the workshop, those in attendance were instructed on how to create and edit a Wikipedia page. They were then encouraged to use their new skills to do so for an artist on the list provided.

Duffy felt this was an important event as artists and cultural figures often gain recognition through a Wikipedia page. She said that more people have access to Wikipedia rather than books or encyclopedia articles, which would give these women artists the exposure they need.

“Women and gender-diverse artists have all of the same cultural significance as male artists; they deserve the same exposure,” Duffy said. “The lack of equitable exposure for them is, unfortunately, an enduring problem that continues to this day.”

Some students who attended the event said they enjoyed their time there.

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“I thought the event was fun and interesting, being able to see people from different age groups and not only from our university,” Kiana Rogers, a senior anthropology major, said. 

“What I took away from the hour I was there was just how vast of an issue this lack of recognition is and how much of an influence it could have on people’s careers,” Jared Alvarez, a sophomore anthropology major, said. “I wish I could’ve done more at the event to help the cause.”

Some felt that the event had a lasting impact on them, making them want to tell others about the issue to help solve the problem.

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Paige Clemente, a senior social and behavioral sciences major, said, “I had never done this before, so I thought it was a useful skill to have, especially since men edit Wiki pages much more than women do. So it is good to make women aware of this and show them how they could do it themselves.” 

Brooke McCormick can be reached at brooke.mccormick@student.shu.edu

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