Only 13 percent of Wikipedia contributors are women, according to June Noel, the co-founder of Women for the Web, a community advocacy group in Missoula for women interested in Internet development, design and technology.
That means that a whole lot of knowledgeable women aren’t sharing their expertise with the world’s largest and most often-accessed online encyclopedia, Noel says, and that’s a massively underutilized resource.
“Missoula has a lot of women in a wide variety of fields,” she said. “There are women who have Ph.D.’s here, women who are experts in environmental science and wildlife biology. There are so many women who could write and contribute and share their knowledge with the world.”
In order to make inroads in rectifying this problem, Noel is working with several local groups to host an event called “Women Who Wiki in Missoula,” on Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Tech Lounge of the University Center at the University of Montana.
“It’s a collaboration between a few different groups, and basically it will be a beginner Wikipedia training,” Noel said. “It’s not going to really be super advanced. It’s more about raising awareness.”
Noel said that part of the reason why there is a lack of women contributing to Wikipedia is because many simply may not realize how easy it is to do.
“A lot of people don’t even know they can contribute to Wikipedia,” she said. “They can edit articles and add their own information. A lot of them think it’s super hard to do. Mostly it is the technical aspect of it, but they don’t know they can do that.”
Women for the Web is cooperating with Geek Puff, an online publication for girls who are interested in science, technology and math. Geek Puff will also be giving anyone who pre-registers an artisan chocolate by Posh Chocolate if they attend the event.
MobilizeHer, a global advocacy organization dedicated to accelerating gender equality in the tech industry, is sponsoring the event as well, as are the UM Women’s Resource Center and the University Center.
Noel hopes that women who attend will make connections with other like-minded women.
“It’s a little group for support,” she said. “We want to get them started and help them know how to use the program.”
The power of Wikipedia is only growing, and women need to be a part of that growth, Noel explained.
“Who hasn’t used Wikipedia?” she asked. “The cool thing about it is it’s a collaboration between a lot of different people. If you see information that is wrong you have a chance to edit that. And it’s free. It’s awesome. It’s a powerful tool.”
The event is free and open to the public.
For more information, visit facebook.com/WomenWhoWiki.