Gender bias problem on Wikipedia: CBC Radio ft. Virginia Balcom

As the world’s largest online encyclopedia, Wikipedia is a popular resource for many online users. Often overlooked is Wikipedia’s lack of coverage on successful women due to gender bias.

According to a new study by American sociologist Francesca Tripodi, volunteer editors nominate women’s pages for deletion at a higher rate than men’s pages. While women make up only 19% of all profiles, they also make up a quarter of pages that are recommended for deletion. This surfaces a larger problem: when women are deleted from one of the most visited web resources, they are also erased from history.

To help boost the visibility of influential women online, SFU VentureLabs partnered with the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) in BC to run a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon in celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day. People from all over the province joined together virtually to nominate women leaders in entrepreneurship, business, science, and tech, for Wikipedia biographies in an effort to recognize their accomplishments.

Virginia Balcom, executive director of SFU VentureLabs, speaks about Wikipedia’s gender bias problem on CBC Radio in their recent segment. Listen to her feature at 3:24.

She talks about the Canadian entrepreneurs and scientists that she and the VentureLabs team added to Wikipedia, including Stephanie Simmons, founder and chief quantum officer at Photonic Inc., Teara Fraser, founder and CEO of Iskwew Airlines, as well as Elicia Maine, professor of innovation and entrepreneurship at Simon Fraser University.

Virginia Balcom, executive director | SFU VentureLabs

“It’s a circular reinforcing where women are often not the ones covered in media – men are much more frequently covered – and therefore they don’t have the notability requirements that some of the editors in Wikipedia are leaning on.”

Click here for the full interview with CBC Radio.

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