This gender gap is not the only issue: the phenomenon extends to the site’s content, as entries about women and related topics are far less researched, developed, and discussed than their male counterparts. Last year, a New York Wikimedia group organized the first ever Art+Feminism Edit-athon meetup group, an event designed to encourage women and allies to edit and create missing entries to Wikipedia’s knowledge-base on female artists and feminist art theory. This year, with the support of the University of British Columbia (UBC), the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG), and Emily Carr University of Art and Design (ECUAD), UBC visual art instructor Christine D’Onofrio has brought this event to Vancouver.
Earlier this week as I stepped into the physical room at the Vancouver Art Gallery where Christine was hosting the second of two pre-event training sessions, the make-up of the attendees had appropriately inverted to a predominantly female audience. The information session covered a wide range of topics, from issues pertaining the gender gap to Wikipedia’s official Core Content Policies to the potential challenges they may pose to this year’s Edit-a-thon. For an art-centric event, the main challenge will most likely be finding visual sources that comply with Wikipedia’s image license policies. For those who chose to create new entries, they will need to defend their choice of topics; they should demonstrate notability or “significant coverage in independent sources” of a verifiable nature as explained by Patrick Earley, a veteran Vancouver-based Wikipedia editor and Community Advocate for the Wikimedia Foundation. Despite these challenges, this year’s Vancouver edition of Art+Feminism Edit-a-thon is determined to improve the breadth and quality of articles for female artists with an emphasis given to Vancouver-based ones.