Welcome to the Fourth series of Women in the Wikimedia movement. Today we will Question and Answers. If you like to read or Previous Series please click here for series one, click here for series two and click here for series three. We can start with a few questions.
In your personal journey as a Wikimedian, have you ever encountered any boundaries or obstacles?
Yes, we find a lot of boundaries during activities, not only on-site activities also when we make for example these spiritual courses that i just explained. For example, improving when we proposed participants to improve gender gap content, or to create women’s biographies, or creating articles about feminist concepts about the theory of feminism. We found boundaries and we have to organize different guides about how to work with improving gender perspective in Wikimedia. When we make edit-a-thons, or when we are all helping or tracking in a virtual way participant.
The boundaries are more in when we are editing within Wikimedia. For example, not a Wikimedia community but when we are in Wikimedia, we publish something about economic feminist theory. We find that we need to make a double effort to maintain that information. For example, having more sources that we have to maintain. Because if you know that there that there are different persons all the time looking at what you are adding if it’s related with feminism or gender gap.
So yes, we found boundaries. That is similar to that Argentinian case, but slightly different is that in our course and program in order to really meet the needs of the public library staff who are learning, on you know, during their busy jobs and so on and so forth, we didn’t take them into areas of Wikimedia where many decision-making happen. So, we weren’t having them look at articles for deletion, we weren’t having them look at suitability noticeboards and if there was a need to do support for someone’s edit, this was something that our team internally absorbed, that, that work of absorbing.
One of my personal fears. I don’t know if I can speak for the team here, but personally I worry that the ability to bring more voices in and effect change needs to go beyond adding content. It needs to be the ability to change the kind of digital infrastructure of Wikimedia’s decision-making processes. And that means getting involved in these other areas where decision making happens.
But I’m optimistic because this is the beginning of many newcomers who are very keen? Interested and not afraid of that kind of, they’re used to dealing with a wide range of people public library stuff. They meet all kinds of people every day and so I also think that as age as more public library staff are joining. Finding their way in Wikimedia that they may be changing the ways that these administrative practices work. But that wasn’t something that we were able to directly address in this program.
When you introduce Wikimedia to, through a program to newcomers, do you address the gender gap? Do you mention it? How do you describe it and what responses to you hear from participants?
We really aim we highlighted this not only as a problem for Wikimedia. For the world that consumes Wikimedia, but also as an opportunity for librarian. We highlighted the gender gap I should say along with other gaps that are present in Wikimedia. It’s a broader than gender gap issue I would say. In my own personal experience I’ve highlighted the gender gap to people and I find that people know about the gender gap. There’s been so much press about it.
In fact, I’ve had people ask me if it’s okay to have an edit-a-thon that’s not about the gender gap. I think that you know highlighting that there are many opportunities in Wikimedia that this is this is just one. But it does seem to be something that really excites people. They can see an opportunity to really improve things and make a difference and to move that number. I think that it really provides an excellent example and challenge to people.
Argentina’s Education Program
In Wikimedia education in Argentina’s education program we also address it in every activity we proposed. We said all the time in our training that Wikimedia is a reflection of our society. It’s a reflection of our social context, and all the debates that we find in Wikimedia are debates that are present and that are present in our current debates in our society. For example, three weeks ago, we had a lot of debates in Wikimedia related with the abortion law in Argentina. The article of misoprostol and abort and abortion was where articles that were really moving on.
In our education program we have always talked about this. We think that it’s important not only to address the idea of a gender gap in content in Wikimedia. It’s also important to address the gender gap between women and men editing in Wikimedia. I think that it’s really important because not all the persons that we work with in the education program know about that. I think that it’s that we all the time think in the gender gap on how to communicate through different channels.
How do you engage men in understanding the gender gap and collaborating to improve gender equality in the Wikimedia movement?
Women in Ed was the idea of a man, Roger Bamkin, from the UK and he invited me to work on this journey with him, and all along, therefore, men have been not just our allies, our equal partner. As the editors of women’s biographies, women’s works and women’s issues, broadly construed. What we find sometimes is that the male voices in our offline communication channel just sound different than women’s voices in in how they see things and how they portray things and sometimes we really need to work hard to kind of sort out some issues. But I can tell you we wouldn’t be today where we are in terms of percentages without the help of those men, and it’s it’s sometimes it feels like work to kind of get us all thinking. But without them we it would be a much harder climb.
In Wikimedia Argentina something that it’s important to the point is that all our activities, all our edit-a thons, even though the ones that are related with gender gap are open edit-a-thons. Men and women can participate in this in the same way. Obviously, we have more women participating in topics related with gender gap but we have men who also participate and also I have to said that in some cases, we really need the help of for example, male users that help with us to create a more democratic Wikimedia, because we need to be all of us together in Wikimedia creating information and improving the information related with women but also with men and with humanity in general.
But something that we really want to say if that we open all our all activities that we made and we design and we think always with men and women doing the same in the same place and creating safe contexts to work together. Our project wasn’t explicitly focused on meeting the needs of women and so both men and women participated in our program. What we aimed to do ideally and is hard so it’s a work in progress is to really take a kind of inter sectional feminist approach to the project design, and to having that be a part of the project outcome. And that means really situating who men and women are and making other identities into consideration in terms of how they’re going to engage with Wikimedia.
How much very structured support and human-to- human connection there was? How this goes on in the future for them that the grant is over? the project the training is over, but what systems WIkimedia process have you set up ? those librarians continue to have a good connection and support system for each other?
We have talked about this so much because we’ve real. We feel like these are our ducklings and we’ve launched them into the world. We’ve given them this positive start we want to make sure that they continue that. You know we’ve looked at existing structures that are out there, so we have already pointed them to tea house. We hope that they will continue to see themselves as a cohort and use the connections that they’ve made with one another and also their guides and leverage those going forward.
Wikimedia in Libraries
There’s a Wikimedia in Libraries Facebook group I know not everybody’s on Facebook but for those people you know it’s called Wikimedia in Libraries. I think it speaks to that it’s a space for libraries. And then there’s a new user group: the Wikimedia in Libraries user group, so that’s you know that’s a space where people who both care about supporting libraries, who are already active in the movement, and also our new Wikimedians can come together. But you know we want to be able to kind of extend that that supportive environment. But also, are cognizant of, you know, all good things all grants must come to an end. So it’s been on our minds as well.
I just wanted to jump in and say the Wikimedia Foundation portion of the grant did finish, but the grant project is actually not over until May 31st. We have continued to provide a lot of support, email support. I’ve run office hours, and then twice we’ve had the kind of webinars called “We Wikimedia Better Together” that’s ongoing webinars for the course participants on citations, and then also on programming and events, where we talked about how to use the dashboard.
We ran an additional webinar in conjunction with the one that had 500 participants to enrolled in that. And we will be at PLA, the Public Library Association event talking about Wikimedia and hosting a meetup for the library staff who participated and their friends. I’m liking to see that this is kind of, the ball is starting to roll, or is picking up speed and that people will, within their own network, they continue to talk.
Kim Gile, who I mentioned in my presentation, I had the luck and delight of being able to go to Kansas City and support her Wikimedia Jazz edit-a-thon. And she’s planning to make a presentation at her state library meeting about Wikimedia and five or six of her staff participated in the event and we’re very interested in talking about Wikimedia.
There’s kind of the ball is rolling and you know we’d love to be able for everybody, but we’re also believing that they are going to support each other as well. I should also mention that the wiki con North America is coming up its in Ohio–it’s hosted by the Ohio State libraries so we hope that our people in our cohort will go there and continue with that human-human connection actually get to meet people in in real life. So, so kind of continuing those to build those connections as we can.
How you were saying that there were so many more women participants, and is that just a factor that there are just more women teachers? How are you targeting participation that there’s so much so many more women teachers participating?
MOOC & WikiBridges
The MOOC and WikiBridges MOOC. We have–we think that we have a lot of women participating because we have more women in there are more women in primary and in high school and this MOOC is more popular in high school level but even though that, we have men participating, but I think that they subject the teachers that teach a specific that subjects like, for example history, or literature. Social science is in high school more women.
While men, for example teach more related to math, physics, chemistry. That are like “male subjects”– it’s something that we want to also discuss. But it’s like that in in general in high school. We have more participation for teachers that are women teachers and not so many men. Also it I think that we track that in this information with surveys that we made at the end of the MOOC and we also ask men why they like to… Why they think that it’s important to make this virtual course?
They answered that they think that Wikimedia is a tool that I have to learn how to use it to explain it in their subjects, and women, for example, answer that Wikimedia get gave them power to teach in their school. So, I think there is a different reading of why they use Wikimedia in school, and that is something that we all the time find in the devolution that teachers made after the virtual course and also after the on-site training it’s the same in that way but we have more and evolution’s because we have more teachers doing the virtual course than making the on-site training.