CMU School of Drama

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Edits for change: Pittsburgh's Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon remedies the gender gap Sally Foy Dixon didn’t exist until May 2, 2016, despite her role in the early 1970s as founding curator of Carnegie Museum of Art’s Film Section, one of the first museum-based film programs in the country. That’s because until then, she had no Wikipedia page; she had not yet entered the canon of artists and curators recognized by the world’s most popular reference site. Since her wiki-birth less than a year ago, Ms. Dixon’s page has amassed nearly 700 views — a meager amount to some, but still a testament to demand for knowledge on her and her work. “Her legacy was known to people who start to dig deeply into American avant-garde film, but otherwise it was sort of lost,” said Emily Davis, film and video archivist at CMOA. “We thought this Wikipedia page was one really small way we could


Mark Ivachtchenko said...

Although the overarching mood of the article is bittersweet, the commentary focuses on a brighter tomorrow. This definitely isn't the first time a minority in our society wasn't properly credited for their work and I'm sure there are plenty other Wikipedia or general encyclopedia pages that don't comment on the efforts put in by these individuals. This article is specifically pretty wild for us because it happened in a museum that's just a few blocks away. I think the fact that Sally Dixon wasn't incredibly famous furthers the point that ordinary people who contribute to larger movements are often overlooked. In a way, I think of Ragtime and the fact that Coalhouse wasn't necessarily a character that was based off a single person in history but instead symbolized the struggle of every ordinary black person on the street. This is an interesting insight to a different type of gender gap that isn't necessarily financially based and I'm glad that there are people like Angela Washko with institutions like Carnegie Mellon that are resolving this issue.

Sarah Boyle said...

This is amazing! I have never thought about Wikipedia as an area to combat gender (and other diversity) inequality, but it makes perfect sense. It is an immediate change, not that difficult, and it’s where so many people get their information. It is the first place you look before more specific searches, and it’s important that women are also listed for people who might want to learn more. I imagine it is also a nice gesture of recognition for their work. That only 15% of Wikipedia people based articles are about women is shockingly bad. I have so much respect for the people putting time in to improve that. I also really appreciated that they have a session on the ethical side of editing Wikipedia. Since they are adding articles and editing biased articles, I’m glad that the organizers of this event were conscious of what information they were publishing.