By Karen Guzman
They came from across the university to help set the Wikipedia record straight. Dozens of members of the Yale community took part in the Yale Women Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at the Yale School of Management on July 9.
The goal was to add more notable women to the online encyclopedia’s pages in an attempt to correct a glaring gender gap that even Wikipedia has acknowledged. Participants, armed with laptops, gathered to add and update profiles of notable Yale alumnae.
More than 40 participants convened in a Yale SOM classroom, while others joined remotely via a Zoom conference. The event ties into this year’s Celebrate Women at Yale initiative, a series of commemorations recognizing 50 years of co-education at Yale and 150 years since the first women attended classes in the Yale School of Art.
“I consider this event an unofficial kickoff to start the celebration,” said organizer Amy Kundrat, Yale SOM’s director of digital media.
Jonathan Manton, music librarian for digital and access services at Yale’s Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, gave opening remarks and technical support. He noted that only 17% of the biographies on Wikipedia are of women, and an estimated 90% of editors on the site are men.
“The hope is to grow the community to get more diverse editors and fight the systemic bias that leads to content gaps,” Manton said.
Some participants worked in teams, providing citations and sharing materials, while others researched solo. They agreed that filling the site’s content gap is a big job.
“As a scientist, I know that women are underrepresented,” said Katrina Blount, an associate research science in nephrology at the Yale School of Medicine.
Ann Rho, director of development for science strategy in Yale’s Office of Development, has stumbled upon the content gap before. “During my own research, I found out that there’s so much that needs to happen, especially for women in science,” she said. Rho worked on a Wikipedia entry for pioneering zoologist Katharine Jeannette Bush ’01.
Belinda Oliver, a financial analyst at the Yale Child Study Center, was drawn to help after learning about Otelia Cromwell ’26, the first African-American woman to receive a PhD from Yale. Oliver worked on Cromwell’s Wikipedia page. “She was actually one of the very first African-Americans to graduate from the university,” she said.
Julia Adams, professor of sociology and international and area studies, and head of Grace Hopper College, found the turnout inspiring. “I’m delighted to see a whole range of people here,” said Adams, who researches the representation of academic knowledge on Wikipedia and other digital platforms.
“It’s a terrific event, and I love the way it brings together the needs of the encyclopedia and Celebrating Women at Yale,” she said. “It’s a really good thing to push on this.”