Grants:IdeaLab/Let's talk about non sexist language

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Let's talk about non sexist language
summaryAfter creating the project page of les sans pagEs and organizing a conference at the first francophone Wikiconvention in Paris 20-21 august 2016, a group of motivated wikipedians willing to promote non sexist language decided to organize regular meetings to:

- promote non sexist language (ie. the feminization of masculine terms used to describe title and functions of women) on the French wikipedia by using a global approach integrating Quebec, Belgium, Switzerland, francophone Africa and French point of vues - the writing of a document to help people to learn how to use non sexist language that will be published on the wikipedia help page and sister projetcs such as the wiktionnary - the coding of a bot that will detect sexist occurrences in french (when a person's gender does not correspond to the gender of their titles and functions) - the feminization of names of titles and functions on wikidata to enable the correct gender of names and function to be imported in infoboxes when the model uses wikidata

- the promotion of non sexist language by participating to wikipedia and sister project events and editathons focusing on expanding the number of women biographies of les sans pagEs and wearing the T Shirt Stop sexism on Wikipedia
targetplease add a target wiki
amount6800 usd + in kind
granteeNattes à chat
project managerNattes à chat
this project needs...
community organizer
created on14:30, 24 August 2016 (UTC)
round 1 2016

Project idea[edit]

What is the problem you're trying to solve?[edit]

There are not enough women contributing on wikipedia, and not enough articles related to women as a whole. To adress this gender gap using an agile method seems more efficient than continuing to investigate why there is a gender gap for years and then getting nowhere near the beginning of a solution. One of the problems experimented during various workshops accross the French wikipedia is the hostility towards topics of main interest to women: the feminisation of names and titles in french is one of them.

What is your solution?[edit]

Let's talk about it! During the first French Wikiconvention 2016, we held a conference about non sexist language in French, and the outcome was very positive, leading to the lauching of a two projects : creation of a bot detecting occurrences when a person is allotted a term not corresponding to her declared gender, and the feminization of masculine titles of occupation allotted to women on wikidata. Some male contributors helped along to create a SPARQL query that we are now treating manually. We have also produced a film on the conference that is available on Commons on visible on Youtube here: This shows one thing: we need to have the conversation about non sexist language again and again, and we need to include women in a safe group where they can build strategies to overcome their fear of contributing around conflitual themes. Furthermore, when we do have the conversation, the outcome is very positive. I believe wikipedians are not the sexist bunch we were told about, but there are unconscious biases, and the way to deal with unconscious biases is to communicate and to start the conversation.


  • to keep the conversation on non sexist language going in the wiki{p/m}edia movement
  • to initiate quartely meetings among contributors of the Francophone community to adress the issue of non sexist language by running workshops on non sexist language in national and international wikipedian events
  • to produce an online best practice manual for non sexist language to be published on the French wikipedia & the different sister projects compiling the various regional practices (different modalities between canadian, belgian, swiss and french communities)
  • to integrate a chapter on best practices in terms of harassment in the manual to fit in with the last inspire campaign on harassment
  • to print hard copies of the manual to distribute during events (with T shirts)
  • to participate to wiki{p/m}edia events wearing our T shirts "Stop Sexism on Wikipedia) to make the conversation visible and also fun (see photos, as we have already started and tested this)
  • to update wikidata with missing feminine and masculine labels
  • to eventually organize a conference on non sexist language in English in Wikimania 2017

We have already produced a film on non sexist language during the French wikiconvention. The idea would be to present parts of the film during wikimania and also do another conference including aspects of other languages if there is interest.

W01 - Wikipédia - Langage epicene - Introduction
W02 - Wikipédia - Langage epicene - Etat des lieux
W03 - Wikipédia - Langage epicene - Masculinisation - Eliane Viennot
W04 - Wikipédia - Langage epicene - Reintroduire le feminin - Therese Moreau
  • to start working on a bot detecting occurences where the gender assigned to a person does not correspond to this person's declared gender (for e.g. if a female professor is labelled with a masculine function)

In fact we have already started these activities, but will not be able to sustain the effort in the long run without financial support.

WiKiconvention-Langage epicene-Angela Marzullo

Get Involved[edit]

About the idea creator[edit]

I was in charge of the Let's fill the gender gap project, which resulted in 92 biographes of swiss women edited mostly by new contributors, among which a majority of women.I am part of the WMCH and WMFR and participate both in Switzerland and France to local Wiki{m/p}edia events. I have also launched the les sans pagEs in Esino Lario, after meeting Rosiestep of Women In Red. I like to launch new ideas and projects to address the gender gap in general, in a creative way.


  • Volunteer I will help spread the idea of a non sexist languages through the French-speaking communities, providing support for organizing events, collaborating for increasing knowledge about the links between non sexist language and NPOV, etc. Kvardek du (talk) 11:34, 30 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer I will participate in wiki events and contribute to translating articles related to women from English to French. Otarie69 (talk) 18:34, 11 October 2016 (UTC) Otarie69 will be in charge of running the admin side of les sans pagEs in Switzerland.
  • Volunteer I am organizing regular workshops entitled Women and feminism on Wikipédia in Nantes, France. These workshops pursue two goals: increasing the number of female contributors and increasing the number of biographies on women. We also focus on using a non-sexist language, which is far from obvious in France. This project needs to be endorsed by a larger community. This is a major subject that needs to be supported by the Wikimedia Foundation. We need to organize events to convince people that the gender gap on Wikipedia is wide, and to train them to reduce it. We also need, as volunteers, to physically meet several times each year, in order to share our accomplishments, to organize coming events, to work out further actions, and so on. We also need to buy books to use as sources, we need to produce material such as t-shirts, flyers and manuals. DeuxPlusQuatre (talk) 19:17, 11 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer I performed during the french wiki convention in Paris and met the group, les sans pagEs and am happy to continue contributing as an artist to the adventure of promoting the use of non sexist language on wikipedia ***Makita Angela*** (talk) 13:55, 19 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Project manager I would like to coordinate all efforts and manage the relationship with the WMF, given that I can write and speak in English to make a success out of this project Nattes à chat (talk) 07:16, 4 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer I participate in fr:Projet:Les sans pagEs, and I can help for workshops, conferences, etc. Yann (talk) 17:28, 23 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Advisor Images correspondant à BENGRINE HASDINE 14:23, 10 November 2017 (UTC)


  • Women needs to be recognized and be included in Wikipedia. Too many are ignored while Wikipedia is widely used and should be a tool for everyone.

Thérèse Moreau;Phd; écrivaine, intervenante à lq Convention Wikipedia à pqirs, 2016 15:33, 13 October 2016 (UTC)

  1. I wish you a lot of success and hope you will have results, that other language versions can copy --Kritzolina (talk) 16:03, 17 October 2016 (UTC)

Project plan[edit]


OPL Montreuil-en-Touraine - Photo de groupe 01
Les sans pagEs à OPL Montreuil running a workshop for new contributors

- meet 4 times face to face during the year at national / international wikipedia events - online IRC meeting to dispatch and organize work - writing a best practice manual on non sexist language in French and a chapter on how to prevent harrassment to be published on wikipedia and sister projects paying attention to regional differences between Canada, Belgium, France, Switzerland - print this manual to be distributed along with our T shirts Stop Sexism on Wikipedia - running workshop in wikipedian events - develop a bot detecting and measuring sexist occurences to measure advanvement of the project - finish and promote the film made during the French wikiconvention


  • travelling: 4000 USD
  • Youth hostels : 1000 USD
  • hard copies of manual (possibly wikibook) 1000 usd
  • T shirts : 800 usd (two colors - logo + Stop Sexism on Wikipedia)
  • In kind contribution by volunteers

Soft development : 2000 usd (+40 hours of work - price depending on voluntary work pecentage) Writing the manual : 4000 usd (+80 hours of work) film : 1000 usd (+20 hours of work)

Community engagement[edit]

  • twitter handle @lessanspages
  • WMFR + WMCH news letter
  • project page les sans pagEs will host a space dedicated to this project
  • running workshops to teach how to write using a non sexist language in French
  • regular IRC meeting on the WMFR channel gender gap


We would like to give a conference on non sexist language during wikimania 2017 in Montreal to maintain the visibility of the issue. Possibly extend to English, and show the film made durong the French wikiconvention

Measures of success[edit]

- the bot will measure the occurences of sexist language. we expect a diminition of the occurrences in French - the project is of qualitative sort. The impact will be measured by first achieving the printing and online publishing of the manual, and then the number of views - we believe this is also another way of introducing the theme of best practices in the domain of trolling and online sexual harassment and to promote women participation - getting more and more contributors joining the conversation on non sexist language on the dedicated page -

Project team[edit]

  • Kvardek_du, organizer of Art+feminism Paris
  • Deuxplusquatre, organizer of feminist workshops in Nantes
  • Nattes à chat organizer of Let's fill the gender gap
  • Lorraine Furter organizer of workshops in Brussels
  • Scaylina
  • Tatie Thérèse advisor for non sexist French language - intervened during the French Wikiconvention
  • Otarie69 volunteer
  • Makita Angela, artist would design logo and drawings for the next set of T shirts with a graphic designer

Community notification[edit]

Please paste links below to where relevant communities have been notified of your proposal, and to any other relevant community discussions. Need notification tips?

We have created a twitter handle and a youtube account where we relay important informations about our projects, meetings ext.

les sans pagEs on Youtube:
les sans pagES on Twitter: @lessanspages

Aggregated feedback from the committee for Let's talk about non sexist language[edit]

Scoring rubric Score
(A) Impact potential
  • Does it have the potential to increase gender diversity in Wikimedia projects, either in terms of content, contributors, or both?
  • Does it have the potential for online impact?
  • Can it be sustained, scaled, or adapted elsewhere after the grant ends?
(B) Community engagement
  • Does it have a specific target community and plan to engage it often?
  • Does it have community support?
(C) Ability to execute
  • Can the scope be accomplished in the proposed timeframe?
  • Is the budget realistic/efficient ?
  • Do the participants have the necessary skills/experience?
(D) Measures of success
  • Are there both quantitative and qualitative measures of success?
  • Are they realistic?
  • Can they be measured?
Additional comments from the Committee:
  • I like the idea of creating a non-sexist language guide for Wikimedia projects and think such a tool could contribute to closing the gender gap. However, I'm not convinced that this project is the best way for the WMF to invest in creating/supporting gender-inclusive online spaces. There is no consensus among feminists or linguists on the practice of feminizing masculine terms - personally, I also have concerns that a project that emphasizes the detection of gender of individuals could perpetuate the gender binary and isolate our non-binary editors and readers.
  • I'd like to see more details about project activities, timelines, etc., as well as more examples of combatting sexist/gendered language besides just the feminization of masculine titles. To me the strength of this proposal is the creation of a gender-inclusive language guide. I think this should be the main focus, and other activities/initiatives listed (such the development of a bot, Wikidata editing, and production of t-shirts) should be put aside until the initial work is completed.
  • The gender gap is a complicated issue. It is hard to see how this project can be scaled to other language Wikipedias.
  • I am not sure about impact. The project is very narrowly focused and its goals seem to be contrary to the recent trends of using gender neutral language.
  • It tackles one of the critical problems in the movement. What is worth noting about this particular project is that it doesn't focus on collecting data that might never address the issue but rather bridging a clear gap.
  • This project is well-aligned with the strategic priority of making Wikipedia more inclusive. The outcome of this project (in terms of the number of edits) can be used as a crude measure for unconscious bias on French Wikipedia. This model, if successful, may be implemented in several languages where there are distinct terms to describe people of different genders.
  • Addressing proactively gender disparity in participation and content on Wikimedia projects is a strategic priority in our community, and this proposal is in tune with this priority. Yet, I was unable to clearly assess what is being proposed; this read to me more like a statement of intent than an actual project, with clear metrics and risk assessments.
  • The project lacks measurable outcomes. Beyond the publication of the manual, there are no plans for implementing/facilitating its use among communities. I’d like to see more focus on learning and long term impacts - is there a methodology that other communities could adapt to create similar manuals? How will this be documented? Or how will the project team ensure that the manual is used by those who are most in need of its teaching (i.e. those with unconscious biases)? It sounds like workshops might play a role here but there are minimal details provided about who will participate in the workshops and how they will be engaged.
  • The measure of success is not quite clear to me even though their approach to bridging the gap is unique and innovative.
  • This project has an innovative approach to the gender bias on Wikipedia. I am slightly surprised that this project aims to introduce gendered words. While most of the EU is trying to move towards a gender neutral language, the French are doing the exact opposite (in terms of feminization of masculine job titles - while the politically correct idea across the globe is to assign gender neutral job titles). However, I know nothing about the French culture and I suppose that in the absence of a provision to have a gender neutral title, the most correct action would be to feminize names and titles at places where it is justified to do so.
* I cannot find reliable data on how deep the sexist-language problem is, therefore it is difficult to know the potential impact of the project. However, the project appears to be sustainable if/when introduced in other languages facing similar barriers in terms of language.
  • Risks are not assessed. Outcomes are not clear. Connection to the previous community around filling the gender gap is set as a context, not as a process in which this project will grow upon.
  • I’m a bit confused about the plan and deliverables, especially around the bot. To me the bot seems an unnecessary complication that could be removed from the project plan. The project team seems to have a good mix of experience and expertise.
  • The project duration is not specified. The budget is inconsistent: it mentions software development costs (7000 USD), which are apparently not included in the total.
  • The scope of the project is vast, and it appears as if it cannot be completely accomplished in 12 months. * I would like to see endorsements from the French community.
  • I like the idea of engaging francophones from across the world (Canada, Europe, Africa, etc.) and tying the project into a French language session at Wikimania but couldn’t track down the community notifications; it doesn’t really seem like there’s much support for this project.
  • Low community engagement for a project that is so strongly associated to supporting gender.
  • Critical issue in the Wikimedia movement, but I don't see the synergy between the budget and the main goal of the grant. I recommend asking for funds for software development before taking on additional tasks.
  • In my opinion we often think about diversity in terms of gender and we forgot always other kind of diversity. In community discussions it seems there is a focus on women, but having a gender-neutral view is the most encyclopedic.
  • This project is not ready to be supported just yet. It needs to be worked on risk assessment, metrics and community engagement.

This project has not been selected for a Project Grant at this time.

We love that you took the chance to creatively improve the Wikimedia movement. The committee has reviewed this proposal and not recommended it for funding. This was a very competitive round with many good ideas, not all of which could be funded in spite of many merits. We appreciate your participation, and we hope you'll continue to stay engaged in the Wikimedia context.

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