The Women’s Classical Committee UK is delighted to have been awarded Wikimedia UK’s Partnership of the Year prize for their initiative #WCCWiki. #WCCWiki is an example of successful community activism, where volunteers come together regularly to improve the representation of classicists who identify as women and non-binary on Wikipedia. Classics is very broadly conceived, including historians, archaeologists, theorists, translators, poets, and others who work on the ancient world. Wikimedia UK, the organisation that runs Wikipedia, have recognised #WCCWiki’s fantastic work in transforming the online representation of classicists and helping to challenge Wikipedia’s intractable gender gap.
One of our most prolific and dedicated #WCCWiki members, Lucy Moore, has been doubly recognised by Wikimedia UK as Wikimedian of the Year. The award celebrates Lucy’s tireless editing to improve Wikimedia’s diversity and inclusion as a platform, across class, gender, disability and race. Lucy is an excellent role model, both in her dedication and in her combination of professional academic and curatorial activities, and Wikimedia work.
Before #WCCWiki started, women and non-binary people, historical and contemporary, in classics were a largely unrepresented online demographic. An estimate in 2016 found that only 7% of biographies of classicists on Wikipedia featured women. #WCCWiki has held 62 editathons since then, shifting to online events during the pandemic. #WCCWiki has created or edited more than 600 Wikipedia pages, including path-breaking foremothers who were only referred to on their husbands’ pages, such as Dr Miriam T. Griffin, Dr Annie Ure, and Professor Leslie Brubaker. As of July 2021, 17.7% of the total of classicists’ biographies on Wikipedia now feature women. With every month, the proportion of Wikipedia biographies featuring classicists who identify as women or non-binary continues to increase.
The pace of change means that, on average every other day, a page for a woman or non-binary classicist is created or edited. Expanded, inclusive categorisation allows #WCCWiki to increase our scope, creating and editing pages for historians and writers working on later periods, such as Professor Olivette Otele, Dr Sadiah Qureshi, and Nikita Gill. #WCCWiki articles have featured regularly on Wikipedia’s front page and an increasing number have achieved Good Article status. #WCCWiki has collaborated successfully with other organisations that aim to improve diversity and inclusion on Wikimedia, including the Wikiproject Women in Red and Medieval Wiki, and #WCCWiki has received valuable support from Wikimedia UK in running events.
But despite the huge effort of #WCCWiki, the scale of the problem means that the overall percentage of pages for classicists that feature women is still only around 20%, which is consistent with Wikipedia’s wider gender bias where pages for women are outnumbered 5:1 by pages for men. The #WCCWiki Wikidata Redlist records 2,700+ women classicists that still do not have pages. Women and non-binary classicists who have made significant contributions to the field still lack proper representation online. #WCCWiki will continue to inspire volunteers and spread the message about the importance of inclusion and diversity online for as long as necessary, and we gladly anticipate when this work is obsolete.
By Victoria Leonard, WCC founding member, former co-chair, and steering committee member, and #WCCWiki organiser
For further information, please see:
The #WCCWiki Project Page here
#WCCWiki on Twitter