Wikipedia is the sixth most visited website in the world (after Google, YouTube, Facebook, Baidu and Yahoo).  The single-most concerning factor in Wikipedia’s success is the gross under-representation of women both as writers and as subjects of articles.  Worryingly, of over 1,445,021 biographies only 15.5% are of women – 15.5%?  But women are 51% of the population! Plus nearly all the biographies of people before 1900 are of men.

And, just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for women on Wikipedia…. Most of the articles are written by men, including imposing policies for categorisation, notability and referencing.  Women are thought to comprise 8.5-16.1% of editors on the English-language Wikipedia.  Wikipedia recognise this disparity too: Wikipedia:WikiProject_Women% 27s_History

Team Hypatia to the rescue…..

Ever heard of Litz Pisk? If you had tried searching for her three months ago you would have come across a listing stating "The page Litz Pisk does not exist"

Born in Vienna 1909, and died St Ives, Cornwall 1997, Litz is widely regarded as the finest and most influential teacher of modern theatre movement, sadly she was one of the very many great women currently not listed on Wikipedia - however thanks to a partnership between The Hypatia Trust and Wikimedia UK all that's changing

Hypatia and Wikimedia UK are working together on a project to rebalance the English-language Wikipedia by training new editors in writing and editing biographical articles on Cornwall and Scilly’s great women.  The Hypatia Trust has appointed Dr. Tehmina Goskar as its first Wikimedian in Residence to coordinate the project and act as an ambassador for promoting free and open access to information and knowledge on women and Cornwall. Dr Tehmina Goskar (museum consultant, historian and long time friend of the HT) with the help of a small network of researchers are rebalancing Wikipedia by writing and editing biographical articles of Cornwall and Scilly’s great women.  Utilizing the Hypatia Trust’s Elizabeth Treffry Collection (over 3000 books and articles by and about women and their lives, works and achievements in Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly) Tehmina and the researchers aim to reinvigorate the collection and raise the global profile of its subjects.

Tehmina says, "This is just the beginning of a landmark project to redress the imbalance of male-dominated narratives of Cornwall and Cornishness. It is the result of two internationally-minded organisations who have the common aim to improve humanity’s access to knowledge.  I have been a long time advocate of free and open access to knowledge especially in the fight against inequality and in pursuit of better diversity in how we write about our heritage. As Wikipedian-in-Residence I will be creating a hit-list of women in Cornwall who are currently not represented or poorly represented on the English-language Wikipedia. This will not only address the gross bias against female subjects on the world's free encyclopedia, but also redress the gender imbalance in the representation of Cornish history, culture and literature."

Daria Cybulska, Head of Programmes and Evaluation, says: “As the national chapter for the global Wikimedia movement we believe that open access to knowledge is a fundamental right, and a driver for social and economic development. We are delighted to be working with the Hypatia Trust on this important project, which feeds into our overall commitment of increasing online coverage of diverse cultures, heritage and history. We are hoping that we will be able to draw parallels between this initiative and our other projects on Welsh and Scots Gaelic heritage.” 

See the Wikipedia pages here.  The project will also include women featured in the Hypatia Women:Cornwall campaign, keep your eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages for updates.