Not many women edit Wikipedia – Mia wants to help change that with a free event

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Wikipedia needs more women.

That's the driving force behind a free Minneapolis Institute of Art event slated for Saturday, what's called the "Art + Feminism Mia Wikipedia Edit-a-thon."

"It’s kind of a nerdy thing," admitted Susan Jacobsen, manager of lectures and academic programs for Mia. "On the other hand it’s a lot of fun."

What it comes down to is this:

Wikipedia's editors are mostly men; research has found about 15 percent of Wikipedia editors are female. And that's according to Wikipedia, which has an entire page devoted to gender bias on Wikipedia.

That "lack of female participation," the event argues, "has led to an alarming deficiency of content about women and art in the world’s most popular online research tool." (Wikipedia gets hundreds of millions of unique visitors every month.)

So the goal is to get like-minded people together, do some research, and increase the quality of Wikipedia entries about female artists – while also getting more women involved with editing the site.

It's free, and runs noon to 4 p.m. at Mia – you can RSVP for a guaranteed spot (scroll down for all the info).

"We hope that this is the first of many," Jacobsen said.

And bonus: You get a cookie featuring Eva Gonzales' "Woman with a Fan" if you publish an article.

'Content is skewed by the lack of female participation'

The idea, Jacobsen said, came from Mia Head Librarian Janice Lurie, and is in line with other Art + Feminism events that have taken place around the world, including one at St. Catherine's earlier this year. You can see a list of the events on Wikipedia.

The overarching campaign argues that, no matter the reason for the low female editor rate, the "practical effect" is not up for debate.

"Content is skewed by the lack of female participation," it says. "Many articles on notable women in history and art are absent on Wikipedia."

Other research had found female editors face more adversity on the site – meaning their posts tend to draw more corrective actions from men, and can be edited to include sexist, racist, violent, or other unseemly remarks, Other Sociologist wrote.

How to participate in Mia's event

 (Photo: Minneapolis Institute of Art, Facebook)

(Photo: Minneapolis Institute of Art, Facebook)

At the Mia edit-a-thon Saturday there will be refreshments, and training sessions so people understand all the steps – doing the research, citing and recording your sources, then inputting all of it on Wikipedia.

Editors of all ages, genders and abilities are welcome, the event says – you don't have to know anything about editing a Wikipedia page to take part. There will be people on-hand to help out. The focus will be on women artists (Mia has a list of suggestions here) but people can post about anything they like.

Anyone interested is asked to RSVP through this page on Mia's website or by calling (612) 870-6323 – they've got enough materials for about 100 participants, and similar events at other museums and libraries usually turn out about 40.

Though Jacobsen notes there's been a lot of interest. On Facebook, nearly 700 people have said they're going.

Anyone who pre-registered will be guaranteed a packet and spot. Whatever is left will be on a first come, first serve basis.

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