Today is Women's Equality Day - a great time to announce that I am a Wikipedian!
The University of Edinburgh hosts a group active in Wikipedia's "Women in Red" project. The mission of the group is to create biography pages for notable women in history. Why? Because out of all the biographies on Wikipedia, only 16% of them are women! The group is called "Women in Red" because in the Wikipedia world, if a writer feels there should be a page to link to a particular reference, and there isn't one, the writer will highlight that particular reference in red.
But it can be a challenge to create these biographies, because women have been so horribly underrepresented in the past, it can be difficult to find published primary sources on them. So, our fair leader, Ewan McAndrew spends the weeks between each meeting gathering books, articles, and links on scads of women to our Edinburgh Women in Red page to make our jobs easier when we come together each month to actually write the posts. (Yes, this is his job!) He's also an expert at Wikipedia, so I'm learning my way around the not-terribly-intuitive platform from him in the hopes that I might start a "Women in Red" group at Hollins University someday. (The undergraduate program is for girls only, so it makes sense!)
Not only am I doing a good thing by putting women back into history, I'm learning about some fascinating stories! My first post was for Ethel Elizabeth Froud (pictured), a British trade unionist and feminist. And my second was for Lady Finella - an assasin from the 10th century. What a story!
The nice thing is, Wikipedia is collaborative. So now that these women have pages, others will go in and add information, prune and edit as necessary, making the pages more vibrant as information grows and gaps are able to be filled. I really feel like I'm doing something remarkable for posterity. Very cool!
There are "Women in Red" groups all over the world, so if this sounds like a groovy project to you, see if there's one in your area where you can donate some time - just a few hours each month. Or maybe create one of your own! Happy Wikipedia-ing!
Photo of Ethel Elizabeth Froud, fair use copyright.