Rogers Cadenhead wrote on Wikipedia creator Jimmy Wales edits of his own biography. During the discussion, Rogers mentioned his own Wikipedia entry. I checked, and sure enough: Rogers has an entry. That’s odd, I thought. Many of the male webloggers I know have an entry in Wikipedia, but most of the women I know, don’t. I brought this up with Rogers and he noticed the same.
Why are there significantly fewer women? I think one reason is that we women are taught not to put ourselves forward. Men are complimented for tooting their own horn; making known their wishes; noting their own accomplishments. Women, however, are expected to be sweet, demure, and most of all, stay ever so slightly in the shadow. Well, unless we’re eye candy, in which case not only should we be in the light, we should be wearing as little as possible so that our ‘assets’ can be fully explored.
Besides, who are we to say we deserve an entry? After all, it’s up to those around us who are required by laws of nature to perceive our goodness and give us the reassurance we need–without our asking (because if we have to ask, it’s not the same). After all, we can’t be expected to have enough confidence in our own abilities and accomplishments that we don’t need external validation. A needy woman is a sexy woman.
Something else to consider: how many women would not want articles up at Wikipedia anyway? It is a rough and tumble world, where people will say nasty things about us. We are, after all, delicate by nature, and easily offended and it’s just oh so distasteful to have to brawl with those nasty people who are so mean.
We have bought into such a bill of goods. We think that change for women must come at the ballot box or on the job but it has to begin within ourselves. We have to, first of all, acknowledge that we are worthy people: not as employees, not as wives, and, especially, not as mothers. We, the persons we are independent of our relationship with others, are worthy.
The concept behind women and visibility isn’t limited to a one hour session at a conference in Texas. It pervades our environment; it exists everywhere we look. We can choose to talk about it, or we can choose to do something about it. A place to start is recognizing that we deserve recognition.
Ladies, ask yourself this question: If you feel that you’re as much of a public figure as Rogers, Danny Ayers, Kevin Drum, Kevin Marks, Dave Sifry, Andrew Orlowski, Dave Winer, Robert Scoble, Ben Hammersley, Marc Canter, Seth Finkelstein, and numerous other gentlemen of our weblogging acquaintance, leave a comment or send me and email and I’ll start you a Wikipedia page. You’ll need to give me some basic biographical information to start.
(I also hope that one of you will do me the courtesy and create a page for me, since it’s not the done thing to create one for ourselves. And if inaccurate information is added, or a non-nuetral POV is expressed, I will edit the entry. Oh, and it’s ShellEy Powers. I’m attached to that second ‘e’.)
If you do decide you’ve earned a right to a Wikipedia entry, you’ll have to accept the fact that people can and will add ’stuff’ into your page. However, contrary to myth, if someone puts something inaccurate about yourself in your bio page, you can correct it. This doesn’t mean, though, that you’ll be allowed to dump the butter boat over yourself and make yourself into the next Princess Diane.
The Wikipedia editors are pretty ruthless: you’ll have to defend your page. They’re going to question whether you deserve the page; it will be up to you, then, to say, damn right, I do.
Ken Camp and Scott Reynman were both kind enough to add an entry for me (at almost the same time). It was immediately added to the articles to delete queue for discussion. People will add Keep/Delete votes with associated reasons, and in the end, it will be deleted or saved. This is how Wikipedia works. Now, we’ll see if it gets defended and remains, or ends up on the cutting room floor.
You can see the old discussion about deleting Rogers Cadenhead article.
A follow up post that discusses the ends and outs of deleting a wikipedia entry, including comments from Wikipedia authors.