Art+Feminism will host its second annual Edit-a-thon at Cornell on March 11.

Art+Feminism will host its second annual Edit-a-thon at Cornell on March 11.

February 23, 2017

Cornell to Participate in Annual Art+Feminism Edit-a-thon

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Cornell students, teachers and community members will be joining editors across the world to make the cultural contributions of female artists more accessible to the public and reduce the gender gap in editorship with the Cornell Library during the second Art+Feminism Edit-a-thon on March 11.

Art+Feminism is a global intersectional movement with two main goals — to increase the number of female editors on Wikipedia and provide more accurate information regarding women artists and female cultural contributions on the public domain — according to its mission statement. Currently, less than 10 percent of Wikipedia’s editors identify as female.

“[Wikipedia is] built by this community that heavily favors a particular type of person, and that person is the young white man from a very privileged background,” said Susette Newberry, art librarian and head of Research and Learning Services at Olin and Uris Libraries. “[We have to] recognize that it needs to be a different kind of place if it’s really serving the people who are using it … and that’s the rest of the world.”

During the first Edit-a-thon on campus last year, 49 topics were augmented and 10 new pages of previously non-represented women were created, according to Brittany Rubin, print room curatorial assistant for the Johnson Museum of Art. The organizers are hoping to increase these figures this year in efforts to better represent female artists.

“I think there is a long-standing tradition, a very long-standing history of writing women out,” Rubin said. “And I think that one of the very special things we can do as a campus is to really try to bring the level of recognition up for people who have been traditionally written out of this long-standing narrative.”

In the build up to the second Edit-a-thon, the organizers are offering two training sessions open to anyone interested in participating.

“You definitely don’t have to meet any qualifications,” Rubin said. “If you just are really passionate about this or if you want to find out a little more about the project, just come in on March 11th, and we will help you set up.”

During the Edit-a-thon, volunteers and organizers will work simultaneously from Olin library, the Johnson Museum and the Fine Manuscripts Library as the university’s contribution to this global project, according to Marsha Taichman, the visual resources librarian of the Fine Arts Library.

“I think there’s something incredibly powerful about the idea of so many participants editing Wikipedia entries throughout the month of March, towards a common goal,” Taichman said.

Brenda Marston, curator of the Human Sexuality Collection and the head of research services, also reflected on the essentialism of Art+Feminism, suggesting that the unity which it generates is political and older than the Edit-a-thons or Wikipedia itself.

“It seems like [this year], we’re back to very basic concepts when it comes to women’s rights,” Marston said. “Even though we have all these really advanced researchers here and in-depth concepts [that are] way beyond this simple notion of let’s be fair and let’s include women … it’s still powerful to give back to that step one — let’s include women.”

  • An Alumnus

    It is wrong for Cornell to lend credibility or to promote Wikipedia, a website dominated by Jimmy Wales, a man who charged his visit to a Russian massage parlour to the Wikimedia Foundation and whose prior company Bomis ran a soft porn website. Someday, someone will create a website will good defenses to “fake news” and false reporting, but Wikipedia is not worth the time and energy of Cornell students. When you are solicited for a donation either in person or by one of their ubiquitous banner ads, please think about how they are wasting your money and just donate to the Cornell Library instead.

  • When I read “Brenda Marston”, I thought of “Rachel Marsden”… whom anyone familiar with the co-founder of Wikipedia, knows was a key player in the “gender gap” issue, writ small.

  • While the Sandy Hook Truthers above us revisit their sadness at being excluded even from the nerdist haven of wikipedia editors, I’d just like to say that this sounds like a great initiative! The way to make Wikipedia more women-friendly both for editors and for content is through great projects like this.

  • Smash the Patriarchy

    There are many misogynistic male editors on Wikipedia. I have heard stories of female editors being “outed” online and the subject of horrific and degrading comments. Most of them end up on a hate-website called “wikipediocracy,” which is a quarantine zone for dedicated virgins. I will be participating on March 11 at Olin!!