Narrowing Gender Gap, Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon Writes 6,500 More Women Into Art History

Artists added to Wikipedia for the first time included Lygia Clark and Hannah Black.

The 2016 Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Photo by Marily Konstantinopoulou, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

The gender gap just got a little smaller. Thanks to the fourth annual Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon, over 6,500 women artists have new or expanded Wikipedia entries. Across over 200 events held around the world in March, Women’s History Month, 2,500 participants did their part to fight the Wikipedia gender gap by improving online resources about women artists.

The edit-a-thon was founded in part to increase female editorship on the site, in response to a 2011 survey that found that that less than 10 percent of contributors were women. According to the event organizers and Art+Feminism, this year’s initiative nearly doubled the impact of the 2016 iteration.

“We were heartened by the response to our call to arms to fight against disinformation and fake news with facts,” said Art+Feminism organizers Siân Evans, Jacqueline Mabey, McKensie Mack, and Michael Mandiberg. “We continue to be inspired by all the dedicated folks who make room in their busy schedules to share skills and improve a collectively held resource like Wikipedia.”

Edit-a-thon events were held at some of the world’s biggest art institutions, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art; the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC; and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Alternative organizations such as the Open Foundation West Africa in Accra and Transgender Europe in Berlin also took part.


Divya Mehra, <em>Dangerous Women (Blaze of Glory)</em>, 2017. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Divya Mehra, Dangerous Women (Blaze of Glory), 2017. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Among the women now represented on Wikipedia for the first time are Brazilian Constructivist Lygia Clark and Hannah Black, one of the loudest voices in the recent Whitney Biennial controversy over Dana Schutz’s painting of the mutilated body of Emmett Till, a young African American boy who was lynched in 1955.

This year’s edit-a-thon also saw Art+Feminism debut its Call to Action Art Commission program, which selects an artist to create a Creative Commons licensed artwork. The inaugural commission, Dangerous Women (Blaze of Glory), by Divya Mehra, features the word “edit” written across a gas can, pointing to the combustible power of expanding women’s presence in Wikipedia.

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