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Learning patterns/Fostering affinity groups

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Fostering affinity groups
problemWomen represent 9–20% of the Wikipedia editing community worldwide. It can be isolating and difficult for women to know how and when to call attention to the problem, and how to promote gender diversity on WIkipedia.
solutionCreate a women's affinity group, designed as a safe environment in which to directly discuss the challenges of addressing the gender gap on Wikipedia, and potential solutions.
created on14 November, 2013

What problem does this solve?[edit]

The lack of gender diversity among Wikipedia editors (9–20% are women) is a critical issue if we are to create a comprehensive, neutral, global encyclopedia. For those willing to reveal their gender, it can be difficult to find allies amid the thousands of contributors. We need to discuss ways of minimising isolation among those who want to work towards greater diversity, and of motivating more Wikipedians to join the effort. Specifically, we need to develop ways of sustaining energy in the move towards diversity, and of creating environments and processes for continued learning, rather than focusing only on isolated events.

What is the solution?[edit]

According to the English Wikipedia, an affinity group is "a group formed around a shared interest or common goal, to which individuals formally or informally belong."[1] In our Wikimedia movement, such groups provide safe spaces for collaboration and support. Meeting frequently online or in-person are ways to provide:

  • Safe forums for sharing lessons and discussing challenges
  • Encourage community
  • Sustain a conversation around continuous learning of a topic, bringing in datapoints from across the movement

This is already being done in some ways, such as the online WikiWomen's Collaborative. There have also been some diversity conferences to help shine light to these issues and allow people who have experience in them to brainstorm.

General considerations[edit]

  • A safe space policy can be necessary for online and offline events
  • Repetition is important – having continuous meetups and targets as a group helps sustain energy and create ways to develop and learn.


  • AdaCamp unconferences aim to increase women's participation and status in Wikimedia projects, open source software, open data, open government, fan/remix culture, and similar fields. We achieve this goal by teaching women skills, growing womens' personal networks, increasing womens' confidence and helping women develop careers in open technology and culture. [2]
  • Holding editathons at linguistics conferences and targeting linguistics stubs, language articles, and notable linguists who don't have biographical articles, especially female linguists and other under-represented groups. This gives linguists concrete ideas about things to work on that they have academic expertise in, as well as people they know in real-life to ask questions of if they want to keep editing, as well as being a natural way to direct professors to WikiEd. This model might apply to a variety of academic conferences.[3]
  • WikiD: Women, Wikipedia, Design used this learning group very effectively. The program was a collaboration between three existing groups advocating for women in architecture. Through the WikiD program we were able to introduce these existing groups to WIkipedia. Smdgejc (talk) 00:46, 31 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]


See also[edit]

Related patterns[edit]

External links[edit]