Wikimedia Foundation/Annual Report/2015-2016/Facts/Only 17% of Wikipedia’s biographies are about women

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Wikimedia Foundation 2016 Annual Report
Fact: Only 17% of Wikipedia’s biographies are about women

NASA "human computer" Katherine Johnson watches the premiere of "Hidden Figures" after a reception where she was honored.

More precisely, only 16.78% of English Wikipedia’s biographies are about women. We think that number should be much, much higher. This is clear evidence that women are underrepresented in Wikipedia and that a part of human history is missing from our projects. Now that we have tools like Wikidata Human Gender Indicators to recognize the gaps in our information, volunteer editors are busy filling them.

A few of the biographies added this year include:

Fatima Massaquoi, who left Hamburg in 1937 to avoid restrictions placed on women during the Nazi regime, only to land in the southern United States where racial segregation and Jim Crow laws were in effect. She later became a pioneering educator in her home country of Liberia.

Jean Bartik, an original programmer for the ENIAC computer—which didn’t come with a manual because the hardware was classified. Her group at the University of Pennsylvania reviewed diagrams of the device, interviewed the engineers who had built it, and used this information to teach themselves how to use it.

Inès de Bourgoing, a French noblewoman who left the court to become a nurse. She established Morocco’s first neonatal care centers, supervised trauma hospitals during both World Wars, and led what would become the French Red Cross. She was the first woman honored with the rank of Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor.

Thousands of articles have been added to Wikipedia with the help of community members Emily Temple-Wood and Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight. They’ve co-founded collaborative projects like Women in Red and WikiProject Women Scientists. They design events, editathons, and other efforts with partners like the BBC, UN Women, and the U.S. National Archives that bring volunteers together to improve the diversity of the Wikimedia projects.

Since WikiProject Women Scientists was founded, the quality of Wikipedia articles on women scientists has gone up dramatically and is now much higher than the average article.

In July, both Emily and Rosie were honored by Jimmy Wales as Wikipedians of the Year for their anti-harassment work on Wikipedia, along with their collective effort to expand coverage of women on the site.

Read more about Emily and Rosie →