Where are the Women?

At both the WEP conference and at Mirth Control at the end of the recent WOW festival Sandi Toksvig (co-founder of WEP) lamented at the absence of women in wikipedia’s ‘On This Day/Today’ feature.


Sandi explains that if you look at the Wikipedia page for any given day it will often feature a much smaller representation of events that involve women than men. For most days in history, there is often “nothing about women for 2,000 years – what were we doing, laughing whilst eating salad?”

Woman eating outdoors

She uses images of women knitting in the background during significant historical events to trace their often unrecorded contributions to them.

“In the midst of adversity, women managed to be both productive and creative.”

Sandi considers women to be “the greatest race of underdogs in history,” and often discuses the ways in which they have been sidelined even in movements for which they have fought the hardest. She descries the recording of history as “a vast monument to men.”

“I’m fascinated by women’s history, … Women have been a huge and important part of history but on the whole have been underpaid, overlooked, and undervalued.”

As Women’s History Month draws to a close WE put a shout out on to our social media pages to find some women, and events involving women, that are missing from wikipedia and vow to put them back in.

We’ve had some great ideas put forward and, along with our sister branch Greenwich, we will be looking to add these over the coming weeks. Indeed with the suggestions that we have had and the links we have made with the WikiProject ‘Women in Red’ there are at least 15 pages we can add to wikipedia. These are:

The Parliament Project, including the team Lee Chalmers and Vicky Booth

Councillor Denise Hyland

Central Committee, National Society for Women’s Suffrage

Susan Grimshaw

National Central Society for Women’s Suffrage

Lavina Saltonstall

Catherine Tolson

Helen Tolson

Cassandra Balchin – organizer for Women Living Under Muslim Law which also doesn’t have a page.

The ICChange Campaign and Team

Rebecca Louise Law

Frances Scott – 5050 Parliament Campaign

But we need some help and this is our call of action to you. Do you have some information about the above that we can add to the pages? Have you done this before and can help guide us? Would you be willing and able to do some research on one (or more!) of them to help us find content? Do you have any other ideas of who or what to add?

We will need to co-ordinate this so that no one wastes time doing work twice so please do email us: weplewisham@gmail.com or get in contact through Twitter or Facebook.

I feel like we can easily see this as a rolling project to help make a dent in Sandi’s other rallying cry:

“…we need to take the space back. Fifty-one per cent of the population, let’s take 51 per cent of the space, okay?”

Let start with wikipedia and then move on to the rest.

with thanks to this article for the Sandi quotes.

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