Wikipedians take up arms for Maltese artists on International Women's Day

Art+Feminism’s Edit-a-thons aim to reduce the gender bias on Wikipedia where Maltese female artists lack recognition 

Hit the edit button: a new battlefront has opened in the war against gender bias.

For according to the Wikimedia Foundation’s survey of users on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia curated by its users, less than 10% of its contributors were female – and even less when talking about Maltese women contributors.

But Maltese art gallery Blitz is taking up arms. On 9 March it participates in the Art+Feminism project, a New York initiative that has been running for five years now.

The project’s main event is an editing workshop – Edit-a-thon – that takes place over two days and brings people together to learn how to edit Wikipedia to create new articles and improve existing content on women and the arts.

The global event coincides with International Women’s Day.

“Art+Feminism’s Edit-a-thons aim to reduce this gender bias,” Blitz programme director Nicole Bearman told MaltaToday. “Since 2014, over 280 Edit-a-thons have taken place across the world, creating and improving an estimated 4,600 articles.”

Bearman said that in Malta, female artists have always been under-represented across the arts and culture scenes.

“The problem is that while women are very active in the arts scene in Malta, they aren’t always very visible. We want to create Wikipedia pages for them and get their names and work out there... The lack of online female participation has led to an alarming dearth of content about women and art in the world’s most popular online research tool.”

Bearman said edit-a-thons and such initiatives make an impact on the gender gap through crucial improvements to art and feminist-related subjects on Wikipedia. “Contributing to the event is in itself an empowering experience, that of becoming ‘Wikipedians’.”

The day’s activities will be led by a committee of experts and enthusiasts from across the cultural and education sectors, as well as highly experienced Wikipedians. Anyone attending the event can either bring their own work or be given prepared material to participate.

“The Edit-a-thon is a fun, community-building event and no previous experience editing Wikipedia is required. People of all gender identities and expressions are invited to participate. With Art+Feminism, more female voices from both past and present, artists of all kinds are given representation,” Bearman said.

Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon will be held on 9 March, 3.30–6.30pm and 10 March, 10.00am – 4.00pm, at Blitz, Valletta