Chalmers is closing the gender gap on Wikipedia

​Chalmers has hosted a writing workshop together with the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation and Wikimedia Sverige, focusing on women in research and innovation. The Wikigap event was organized to help reduce the major gender gap between women and men on Wikipedia. ​
Wikipedia is currently far from equal. Today, the encyclopedia contains about four times more articles about men than women and around 90 percent of those who write articles on Wikipedia are men. Wikigap is an initiative started by the government, that aims to increase the representation of women on Wikipedia. Therefore, writing workshops are organized all over the world where people are encouraged to publish more articles about women on the encyclopedia. 

Focusing on women in research

At Chalmers writing workshop they focus on writing about women in research and innovation. Anna Dubois is First Vice President at Chalmers and has a coordinating responsibility for gender equality among Chalmers’ vice presidents. She emphasizes on how important the platform Wikipedia is for spreading information and that representation therefore is essential.

“This imbalance became very clear to me when I saw that only 10 percent of the approximately 200 Chalmers-related biographies on Wikipedia are about women. That really showed how much there is to work on here.”

Together with the Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, Mikael Damberg, she initiates the workshop at Chalmers Library. They both agree on how valuable this initiative is and Damberg comments on the importance of counteracting the great imbalance on the encyclopedia.

“We need to get more young women interested in becoming engineers and researchers. For that to happen, the portrayal of what the world looks like can not be skewed. Therefore, I am very pleased with this initiative, it is very important work.”

Many want to help close the gender gap

A lot of people wanted to be a part of the writing workshop. Around 55 people came to write, both students and employees. Several representatives from Wikimedia Sverige was present to help everyone get started with their articles and to answer questions about Wikigap and Wikipedia. During the event, Chalmers photographer Johan Bodell had a temporary photo studio set up where Chalmers female researchers could get their photo uploaded on Wikipedias image database, Wikimedia Commons, and on Chalmers own image database. 

Mia Halleröd Palmgren is one of the people who has chosen to attend the workshop. She is a communication officer at the Department of Physics at Chalmers and has chosen to write about the professor Krystyna Marta Stiller, also at the Department of Physics.

“I have edited some articles on Wikipedia before, but this is my first time creating a new article from scratch. We do not have many professors at our department so I think it is important to highlight the female professors that we do have.”

Earlier this year, over 50 countries have participated in Wikigap to increase gender equality on Wikipedia. In Sweden, KTH in Stockholm and SLU in Umeå has hosted similar writing workshops. During Chalmers event, 29 articles were published or edited on Wikipedia. An additional 13 texts edited during the event are waiting to be finished. Chalmers will arrange a session for those who did not have the time to finish their articles. In addition to this, 14 images of female researchers was uploaded to Wikimedia Commons and to Chalmers own image database. 

Sara Mörtsell from Wikimedia Sweden helped all the writers during the day with their articles and she is very pleased with how the event turned out.

“It is a lot of qualitative content uploaded on Wikipedia in a very short time, where most of the writers edited on Wikipedia for the first time. An event characterized by focus, knowledge and a genuine willingness for change.”​

Text: Sophia Kristensson

Published: Thu 30 Aug 2018.