In room C2-2, around 20 participants congregated to change those numbers. Among them, there was only one male, but he left halfway. First, the participants were instructed on how to create editor profiles on Wikipedia (spoiler: it’s as easy as Instagram or TikTok!). Then – how to correctly edit, translate or reference text. Finally, the most fun part began: choosing an article of interest and improving it.
“Write dry and neutrally, but try creating a written text, not just bullet points”, advised Sandra Fauconnier of Wikimedia Nederland, a workshop’s lead and one of the five Wikipedians present at the workshop to help. “Remember: don’t choose topics you are closely associated with, for example, your own professors, as you’ll lose impartiality. The aim of Wikipedia is to be neutral and factual, otherwise, companies or individuals would use the platform for self-promotion, which is not allowed.”
Not only a wife, but a philosopher
Hanna, a Bachelor philosophy student, chose to edit the page of Sophie de Condorcet. Hanna picked her profile, because despite having been a philosopher on her own, Sophie de Condorcet is predominantly known as the wife of mathematician and philosopher Nicolas de Condorcet, and a famous French salon hostess. Hanna wanted to contribute more sources and information on Sophie’s philosophical journey to both English and Dutch pages, to help change her outlook.
“Though we do discuss female philosophers in class, it is a still a heavily male-based curriculum, and female philosophers are often either underrepresented or misrepresented. I wasn’t surprised by this when the classes started – I learnt about gender inequality and lack of representation from my mum before enrolling into a school. But I still want to do my part in fighting for representation”, Hanna said.
While it was their first time contributing to Wikipedia editing, Hanna is planning to continue this after the workshop. “At home, I have a lot of encyclopedias and books about female philosophers, which I couldn’t bring with me today. So I am planning to continue editing on my own, as a hobby.”
Keeping the memory of the ECWO founder alive
Kirsten, a Governance of Migration and Diversity master student, chose to edit the page of professor Dianne Bevelander, who passed away last year. Bevelander was the founder of the Erasmus Centre for Women and Organisations (ECWO), which was one of the organizing parties of this workshop.
Being a student assistant at ECWO, Kirsten felt that ensuring the sources on Dianne’s page are correct was a good way to pay tribute to her life. “Many colleagues are very fond of Dianne and often think of her. Ensuring her Wikipedia page stays correct is a beautiful way to honour her.” Having used Wikipedia as a crucial knowledge platform during her school years, Kirsten believes editing it is a great initiative: “Since this is a place where we all get knowledge from, women on and behind Wikipedia need to be represented too.”
Raising awareness on sexual consent
Though this year’s Edit-a-thon focused mainly on female academics and philosophers, some participants chose to contribute to larger social issues and bring their own topics of interest, such as sexual consent. Sara (name has been altered for purposes of anonymity), an Erasmus MC graduate in Medicine, felt a call to action as soon as she saw the event’s ad that pointed out Wikipedia’s gender underrepresentation. “Women’s empowerment lies close to my heart, so when I saw Wikipedia statistics, something clicked inside my brain. I started searching for big topics on Dutch news and cross-checking how they were represented on Wikipedia, and was surprised that Dutch sexual consent page could really use more content, sources and female perspective.”
The most difficult parts of the editing process were trying to write about consent from a not exclusively heterosexual (and not exclusively male) perspective, and working with legal formulations. However, despite challenges, Sara is planning to continue editing in her spare time. “We cannot expect that porn, or social media, or peers will be providers of sexual education in the first instance. When I was a child, Wikipedia was my first go-to for everything. Having such important information as sexual consent available will not only help in fighting gender-related issues, but will also liberate women from feeling shame while talking about sex.”