London Mayor and Wikipedia join forces to challenge gender inequality online

The Mayor of London has joined forces with Wikipedia and Bloomberg to tackle the significant problem of gender inequality online.

As part of his gender equality campaign, #BehindEveryGreatCity, Sadiq has brought together secondary school girls from across London, women from the tech industry and Wikipedia’s experts to create a burst of new Wikipedia pages about women, and to call on the tech industry to help more women and girls to get involved.

It comes after Wikipedia revealed that 83 per cent of its biographies are about men and that 85 per cent of page editors are male.

A series of dedicated edit-a-thons has been organised to tackle the gender imbalance in Wikipedia pages and to encourage more women to edit entries.  These events are supported by the Wikimedia Foundation, which provides mentors and technology to help guide newer editors through the process.

The Mayor, in partnership with Wikimedia, organised an edit-a-thon at Bloomberg’s central London office, where pupils worked in pairs with support from women who work in the tech industry to upload a raft of new pages about London women, and to make existing pages about women more robust.

Among the pages created were Rosalee Mason, a London basketball player, and the leading publisher, and Farrah Storr, editor of Cosmopolitan magazine. Previous edit-a-thons run by the Wikimedia foundation have resulted in an increase in the number of biographies online about women, including Australian female neuroscientists and women in Jewish history. Programmes such as Women in Red, Wikipedia’s project which aims to bridge the gender-gap, have led to the creation of 17,000 new biographies of women in the past three years.

Today’s edit-a-thon will kick-start a series taking place across London. The Mayor will connect schools with the Wikimedia Foundation, to provide mentors and technology to run future events. Bloomberg have pledged to support Sadiq’s call for future events in London, 

The Mayor is also calling on coding clubs and the tech industry to support more schools to run edit-a-thons to create profiles on women and by women.  

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “It’s just not an accurate reflection of the achievements of women that Wikipedia pages are still predominately about men. This has to change. Through the edit-a-thon today we are breaking down the barriers preventing more women and girls from becoming Wikipedia editors – by giving the knowledge and the support they need to create new pages, we can take the right steps to tackle this serious imbalance.

“Our event today is also about challenging how we recognise and champion women’s accomplishments. There are women CEOs, magazine editors, entrepreneurs, lawyers and artists who don’t have Wikipedia pages despite their immense talent, profile and contribution to their fields. As part of my #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign, I want to highlight the women that are at the heart of our city’s success, and ensure they get the recognition they deserve.” 

Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia Co-Founder, said: “I’m very excited about the Edit-a-thon and applaud the Mayor for his support in helping raise awareness of an issue very important to me: getting more women involved in Wikipedia.”

Christine Flounders, London Engineering Manager, Bloomberg LP, said: “We know that representation leads to participation and Bloomberg is proud to join forces with the Mayor of London, Wikipedia and leaders from London’s tech community to empower young women to contribute new profiles of inspiring women while developing their technical skills.”

The Ambassador of Sweden, Torbjörn Sohlström, said: “Swedish Embassies around the world have supported Edit-a-thons in order to drive an increase in Wikipedia biographies about women. I am delighted to support the Mayor’s #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign and the Edit-a-thon taking place today – the first of many more to follow across the city, tackling the gender imbalance we still see in Wikipedia pages.”

Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon, MBE, STEMettes co-founder, said: “We are pleased to support events such as the #BehindEveryGreatCity & Wiki’s ‘Edit-a-thon’. These are the key to inspiring the next generation of women into a huge range of careers. Not only allowing young women the exposure to an environment which they may very well revisit in their careers, but also learning about the powerful, often unacknowledged women who have paved the way to gender equality. Likewise, we aim for the next generation to pick up the torch of driven and informed women with skills of which they have learned more about today.

Lauren, pupil at Hornsey School for Girls, said: “I believe it is important to see women in leading roles because I think it is important that young women see that the industry holds opportunities for them. Growing up, I see the tech industry as a difficult and unlikely chance for me – why would I ever make it? I am taking part in the event today because I want women around the globe to know that the opportunities are there for them.”


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