Grants:IEG/Wikipedian in Residence for Gender Equity/Midpoint
This project is funded by an Individual Engagement Grant
Welcome to this project's midpoint report! This report shares progress and learnings from the Individual Engagement Grantee's first 6 months.
In a few short sentences or bullet points, give the main highlights of what happened with your project so far.
- Developing and fostering relationships with key stakeholders at WVU and WMF who have been wonderfully encouraging and supportive of my work to date.
- Advocating for the importance of the gender gap and gaining support and attention both at WVU and within the Wikipedia community as a strong supporter for change
- The excitement of volunteers about the change they are able to make through their participation with Wikipedia has been particularly inspiring and invigorating.
- The creativity and flexibility I’m afforded to experiment with best practices.
- I've compiled various photos and graphics from my first six months as the Wikipedian in Residence for Gender Equity on my blog.
Methods and activities
How have you setup your project, and what work has been completed so far?
- Outreach to WVU Community about Wikipedia and the role of a Wikipedian in Residence. Making clear the importance of the gender gap and how it can be resolved. I’ve achieved this by organizing events, speaking with professors and their classes, ingratiating myself into various faculty groups on campus that aim to increase diversity and change at WVU.
Describe how you've setup your experiment or pilot, sharing your key focuses so far and including links to any background research or past learning that has guided your decisions. List and describe the activities you've undertaken as part of your project to this point.
- Meet with various professors about incorporating Wikipedia and gender gap work into their syllabus
- Attend various WVU courses to guest lecture about the gender gap on Wikipedia.
- Hosting / planning monthly edit-a-thons
- Conduct continuous research on women from West Virginia in need of Wikipedia articles or updated articles. Identify credible sources for students and other community volunteers to begin to write these articles.
- Promoting edit-a-thons at WVU and on Wikipedia through various means (social media, meetup page, posters, flyers)
- Create and/or facilitate clean and inviting graphics and posters for each Wikipedia event hosted.
- Consulted and advised Professor Nancy Andrews about her photojournalism course (WVU JRL 220) at WVU about using and incorporating Wikipedia into the classroom. Attended Nancy Andrew's photojournalism course (WVU JRL 220) on October 27th. Spoke with students about the gender gap on Wikipedia and how their contribution to Wikipedia contributes to our goal of closing that gap.
- Began the process of building a working relationship with Ken Sullivan, Director of the West Virginia Humanities Foundation and his staff who are responsible for the e-WV Encyclopedia for content to eventually put on Wikipedia about West Virginia and women from West Virginia.
- Attended Faculty Associates Meeting of the Women's and Gender Studies Faculty on October 30th with Carroll Wilkinson.
- Attended Nancy Andrew's photojournalism course, for a second time, on November 3rd (WVU JRL 220). Spoke with students about the value of Wikipedia and the current issues involved the gender gap on Wikipedia. See photos from this visit here!
- Spoke with research services librarians about using Wikipedia and instructing students to use Wikipedia as a tertiary source. One of these librarians is teaching an online course in the fall of 2016 and fully integrating Wikipedia into this course.
- Travel to Charleston, West Virginia with Carroll Wilkinson (Director of Strategic Library Initiatives at WVUL) on December 8th to meet with Ken Sullivan and others at the West Virginia Humanities Council about using information from the e-WV for Wikipedia content creation. Reached agreement with e-WV for information / content sharing for Wikipedia.
- Correspondence with Wikimedia groups from Washington, D.C. and New York City to connect about mutually beneficial event attendance and content creation.
- Met with Dr. Kristina Olson, Associate Director, School of Art & Design at West Virginia University, on December 14th, about beginning to edit and create content about female architects and artists from West Virginia.
- Created official Facebook and Twitter pages for the Wikipedian in Residence for Gender Equity at WVU Libraries for connecting with students and community about the mission of the WiR and upcoming events.
- Hosted weeklong #1Lib1Ref event at each WVU Library in Morgantown, West Virginia. Over 30 WVU librarians created Wikipedia accounts and added a reference to various Wikipedia articles.
- Wrote and submitted presentation abstract for Wikimania 2016 in Italy.
- Hosted Women of Color edit-a-thon on January 19th.
- Met with WVU Reference Librarians about using Wikipedia with students and diversity initiatives.
- Attended graduate level public history course as a guest speaker - spoke about how Wikipedia can support public history programs and collections. These students have become dedicated return editors. One of these students also attended the Art + Feminism event in Pittsburgh as a result of my discussion with the class. History 794 at WVU - Graduate Seminar in Public History: Digital History with Dr. Melissa Bingmann (15 students).
- Met with WVU Resident Librarians for Diversity to discuss joint initiatives for inclusivity.
- Hosted Galentines Day edit-a-thon on February 12th at WVU Libraries. Several new articles about women from West Virginia were added and many existing articles were substantially edited.
- Inivited to speak by Assistant Dean, Steven Bell, at WikiEd conference at Temple University, in Philadelphia, on February 15th. Spoke to Temple University librarians about the Wikipedian in Residence position at WVU and how this model could work at their institution. Met Jami Mattewson from WikiEd Foundation at this event.
- Guest Lecturer in English 103 at WVU with Dr. Tom Sura (22 students)
- Hosted Edit-a-thon training / Wikipedia tutorial for Agriculture Librarians at WVU
- Attended Art + Feminism event in Pittsburgh on March 5th – spoke at this event about the gender gap on Wikipedia and gave Wikipedia tutorial
- Phone conference with Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Executive Board about Wikipedia.
- March 14-18 hosted various events for WVU Libraries celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the Graduation of Women. Met with Gina Barreca, Feminist scholar and writer at The University of Connecticut, consulted with prominent women from WVU about their experiences throughout the years and the struggles they faced, and discussed the future of feminism and gender equity through programs like the Wikipedian in Residence position at WVU.
- Hosted edit-a-thon on March 16th during the 125th Anniversary events.
- Conference call with WiR in Edinburgh, Scotland, Ewan McAndrew on March 24 about potential collaboration and WiR support.
- Wrote forthcoming article for Library Issues to bring attention to WiR position and possibilities.
- Wrote forthcoming article about WiR position at WVU for GWLA Newsletter.
- Invited by WVU Reed College of Media and Media Shift hackathon as a mentor and judge from April 1st-3rd. This event helps promote understanding of the gender gap in the tech industry.
- Conducted virtual Wikipedia tutorial and training for Congressional Archivists / Librarians at WVU and other academic libraries.
- Meeting with WVU Resident Librarians for Diversity regarding planning for Charleston Syllabus programing at WVU Libraries. Working with WVU Resident Librarians for Diversity to create events around the Charleston Syllabus. We are planning to have an edit-a-thon and other programming around the Syllabus.
What are the results of your project or any experiments you’ve worked on so far?
Per our project proposal and the agreed upon metrics I have:
- Signed up approximately 33 new users with more than half of these being continued users on Wikipedia
- Roughly 85% of volunteers at various events are women
- Facilitated the editing and creation of articles exclusively on women from West Virginia
- Dedicated return and sustainable editors: majority of these volunteers are graduate students at WVU
Please discuss anything you have created or changed (organized, built, grown, etc) as a result of your project to date.
- I’m currently exploring alternative routes to recruiting volunteer writers and reaching out, to some seemingly unrelated groups, to advocate and recruit. I believe that these groups will prove a valuable resource to my metrics and success and I’m excited to see where this change will take me in my role and this project in general. See next steps and opportunities section for more detailed information and my blog for photos and graphics from various events held to date.
Please take some time to update the table in your project finances page. Check that you’ve listed all approved and actual expenditures as instructed. If there are differences between the planned and actual use of funds, please use the column provided there to explain them.
Have you spent your funds according to plan so far? Please briefly describe any major changes to budget or expenditures that you anticipate for the second half of your project.
- Yes - there are no projected changes at this time. Please see the Finances tab for more information for up to date information regarding finances.
The best thing about trying something new is that you learn from it. We want to follow in your footsteps and learn along with you, and we want to know that you are taking enough risks to learn something really interesting!
What are the challenges
What challenges or obstacles have you encountered? What will you do differently going forward?
- Recruiting undergraduate students: Identifying and sustaining volunteers from the undergraduate community at WVU has been more difficult than recruiting graduate student and interested faculty. As I look to the next six months, I hope to engage the Greek life community on campus by using Wikipedia as a way for these students to reach their service and outreach goals.
- Finite time: The realization of the finite time of my position and wanting to achieve as much as possible during this block of time to reduce the gender gap on Wikipedia and increase the content about women from West Virginia. As I move forward, I plan to continue to ask openly for advice about this very real time limit as I try to make the most impact in the time left.
- Navigating two organizations: Navigating two very large and different organizations was a challenge early on. However, I feel that I have done well in moving throughout these two organizations and hope to focus further on outreach to established Wikipedia volunteers in the next six months.
- Wikipedia in Academia: Outreach within academia has proved both successful and troubling at the same time. While there are many faculty and staff members who embrace Wikipedia and the change it could bring, others recoil at the concept of this change. As a result, I have focused the majority of my outreach to the WVU community, advocating for the value of my position and of Wikipedia itself within the confines of academia. In the next six months, since this I have largely laid the groundwork for this advocacy and the potential Wikipedia provides, I plan to gear my outreach towards the Wikipedia community itself and dedicated volunteers who are also focused on or interested in the reduction of the gender gap on Wikipedia.
What is working well
What have you found works best so far? To help spread successful strategies so that they can be of use to others in the movement, rather than writing lots of text here, we'd like you to share your finding in the form of a link to a learning pattern.
Next steps and opportunities
What are the next steps and opportunities you’ll be focusing on for the second half of your project?
- Veterans Outreach Program at WVU Libraries: Reaching out to female veterans on campus and organizing edit-a-thons that create cohesion within this group that also provides an outlet for increased research and writing skills. This is in the early planning stages.
- Diversity Librarians at WVU Libraries: Working with the Diversity Librarians to bring programing around the Charleston Syllabus to the library and campus community. We envision incorporating this into Freshman Year Experience classes, organizing talks on campus, bringing attention to the Syllabus and race relations regionally and nationally. I plan to organize edit-a-thons and advocate for how Wikipedia can play a role in this social justice issue. This is in the early planning stages.
- Life Long Learning: I’ve been finding that many retired professors from the WVU community have expressed an interest in working with me and are quite interested in the scope of my project. However, these individuals are somewhat reluctant to write themselves on Wikipedia and prefer to instead send me crucial article topics and valuable references to write these articles. I think that much more can be done to harness the power of this community. At WVU, there is a Life Long Learning Center for these retired faculty members that I’m currently in contact with to potentially teach a brief summer course about Wikipedia and the Gender Gap. This is in the early planning stages.
- Greek Life Outreach and Service Hours: Working with student life organizations at WVU to incorporate writing for Wikipedia into the options students in Greek organizations can choose to complete required service hours. Using Wikipedia would serve as both a volunteer opportunity but also an academic one for these students and one that could be adopted at other college and universities. I am especially interested in working with sorority groups to advocate for an understanding of the gender gap among young women and for their participation in this need area. This is in the early planning stages.
We’d love to hear any thoughts you have on how the experience of being an IEGrantee has been so far. What is one thing that surprised you, or that you particularly enjoyed from the past 6 months?
At this point in the position, I have enjoyed the challenge of being involved with two organizations who are dedicated to universal access to knowledge and making that knowledge as equitable as possible. It has been an invigorating experience to have institutional support to work towards this extremely important goal – as it is something that deserves absolute understanding in academia, technology, and beyond. I have been especially excited about the creativity afford me by being the first to be in position of this kind. The opportunity to experiment has been invaluable in finding my way at both institutions and I intent to continue to explore and experiment in the next six months.
One aspect of my role that did surprise me about is my inability to write and add content to decrease the gender gap on Wikipedia, which is the main objective my role. I have experienced this restriction as censorship and it has been a hardship. Due to the funding of my position, being half funded by the Wikimedia Foundation and half funded by WVU Libraries, I am unable to edit within the subject area of my position on Wikipedia. Wikipedia is generated by dedicated volunteer editors and since I am funded and supported partially by the Wikimedia Foundation, this would present a conflict. I realize that paid editing on Wikipedia, which is steadfastly volunteer generated, is undesirable to many volunteer editors and paid staff at the Wikimedia Foundation. While I understand and respect the reasoning that drove this decision in the past and for this position, I believe that in this case there could be a significant positive outcome from the ability to contribute to this content area. Without writing about women I am not fully participating in the community of dedicated Wikipedia editors who focus on the gender gap issue. Likewise, I am unable to participate in their projects while asking them to participate in my own project. I would very much like to be a more active member in this community and to be able to participate actively in the projects of those I admire and who I feel are making a true difference. It feels quite imbalanced to ask these passionate volunteers to contribute to my project and events without the ability to contribute to their projects in return. This collaboration would foster further understanding and fellowship around the shared goal of drastically reducing the gender gap on the site.
Additionally, I am concerned and somewhat troubled by the outreach of my position, largely with young college aged women, and recruiting them to write about women on Wikipedia. I am keenly aware of the harassment women face on Wikipedia, especially those who write about women or gender issues, and some of my volunteers have faced unpleasantness that has been a burden on them. Many of these volunteers have either ceased editing or are deliberately censoring their actions on Wikipedia, which is obviously counter-intuitive to the goal of my position and Wikipedia’s commitment to closing the gender gap. I feel a growing level of culpability in asking these young women to subject themselves to this harassment without having fully experienced it myself. If I had the ability to write about women, and have a more active and prominent role in tackling the gender gap within the Wikipedia community, I feel that I would be a better equipped Wikipedian in Residence and better able to counsel others who receive backlash for their edits on Wikipedia.
I want to make clear that I respect and deeply appreciate the sacrifices that volunteer editors worldwide make to contribute to and constantly build this content and movement in a larger sense. I also recognize the various factors that directed the decision making to leave out writing about women from my current abilities as the Wikipedian in Residence for Gender Equity. At this point though, I do believe that this restriction is doing more harm than good as it is impeding my ability to collaborate and train new Wikipedia volunteers in an effective and sustainable way. I am successful in all other parts of my responsibilities and look to a time when my performance can be unrestricted and I can build credibility with other volunteer writers in the Wikipedia community.
I want to continue to be a strong advocate for change in my personal and professional life. I hope that the next six months will allow me to be a stronger advocate for the need for work on the gender gap on Wikipedia and allow me to become a loud voice within the Wikipedia community for this change and reform.
I look forward to continuing the conversation with officials of Wikimedia Foundation, my WVU administrators, and any Wikipedia community volunteers to promote understanding and to work together to effectively decrease the gender gap in a sustainable way.
Requested Change to Reporting Schedule
Since our IEG project is approved for twelve months and not the usual six months typical of IEG projects, I would like to request a change in the reporting schedule outlined in the current contract between WMF and WVU. Rather than submitting quarterly reports, as is outlined in the current contract, I propose simply a six month (midpoint) and twelve month (final) report. I will continue to update my monthly progress on the meta page as agreed upon. However, given the extended nature of this project, I feel that these two extended and detailed reports in lieu of several smaller reports will ultimately be beneficial to all parties involved in understanding the complex nature of this role.