Learning patterns/Building a community around gender gap issues
What problem does this solve?
In 2018 the francophone Wikipedia was producing 29 % of women bios and the project les sans pagEs had successfully been launched in June 2016, attracting new contributors and engaging senior contributors. These were good results, but not enough to ensure a sustained long term effort towards reducing the gender gap.
The main problem identified was that the francophone territory doesn't train and welcome new contributors that understand gender gap issues. We had noticed from the two past projects that it is important to have regular face to face and online activities to foster interest and start making a significant impact online, and this kind of engagement only existed in Geneva, with one-off editathons in other cities, but held by the same Geneva team. We intended to replicate the same engagement in 4 new locations and try to make them sustainable.
What is the solution?
We wanted to share the knowledge gained in the Geneva project to encourage the takeoff of 4 new locations:
Nantes (FR) Paris (FR) Grenoble (FR) Sion (CH)
We worked on our sustainability through participation to large-scale, international Wikipedia events: that way, les sans pagEs learned from international experience and shared its experience with other language editions of Wikipedia.
Finally, we build a website, initially we wanted to showcase gender gap analyses and resources to make Wikipedia a better place for everyone and help new people contribute. This website was to include our press coverage. We were very ambitious to start with, our main focus was to make each location independant.
Things to consider
- make a flexible budget if you are going to fund local groups as volunteers who are willing to take local leadership on the top of contributing are scarce and can burn out for various reasons. You have to be able to shift finances from one group to the other easily. Otherwise, the stress or reporting can add to the stress of not being able to complete local objectives and other emmerging groups might get frustrated in not being able to obtain finances due to the way the budget was planned.
- management fees are badly needed as the time for reporting adds up to that of organizing, planning and operating a grant .
- Women facilitators all report the need to be paid for their managementand organization skills.
- training is needed for project management, tracking and reporting and these kind of projects gnerat a trickle down effect that has a huge impact on future potential nwe projects and leaders.
- conflicts of interest are better solved if a project allready has a clear definitions of its values and the way it wants to handle events and reporting. We planned to clarify these aspects in the following years by structuring best practices, adopting our own code of conduct.
- there is no small contribution and volunteers need to be adressed with care and concern. Having financial distributing power has to be balanced with a clear assessment of local project goals and objectives.
- It is better to focus on leaders who approach you for help and are motivated than to try to convince a local group which for various reasons does not have the will or the time to conduct events.
- a geographical approach needs to be coupled with an on wiki developement approach for an optimal impact contentwise. Don't neglect networking with online project communities as this can help ensure the recognition of the work done by the project.
When to use
Use this learning pattern if after a first successful project grant you are reflecting on how to continue and make the first steps towards building a community of members.