In 2013, writer Amanda Filipacchi published
an op-ed in the New York Times
that revealed a worrying trend on Wikipedia. Slowly but surely, she wrote, women were being cut from the more prominent list of “American Novelists” on the site, and were instead being added to the subcategory of “American Women Novelists.” Although Wikipedia editors claimed that it was a necessary step to break up what had become an overwhelmingly long list, she pointed out that there was no equivalent subcategory for men. (It has since been added.)
Filipacchi’s piece sparked a flurry of responses, reigniting a discussion of Wikipedia’s stark gender gap. Several years earlier, an internal study by the Wikimedia Foundation had estimated that less than 10% of its editors were female—an imbalance that persists to this day, despite attempts by the Foundation to increase the percentage.
Among those considering the implications of Filipacchi’s observations were Siân Evans, Jacqueline Mabey, McKensie Mack, and Michael Mandiberg—four friends who were working, variously, as artists and curators in New York City. Their response was to plan an “edit-a-thon,” an event where people could gather to create or improve Wikipedia pages, focused on those relating to feminism and the arts. They dubbed their project Art+Feminism, and drummed up interest via email and social media.