Saturday, April 22, 2023

he, she, they/them

One ambition at Wikipedia is to have more articles about women.  The Women in Red project does really well, slowly but surely the balance between articles about males and females is improving. How do we know this: in Wikidata we have a database we can query and it shows over time.

Obviously, both many deserving men and women could get an article in future and particularly many scientists are already known in Wikidata through their publications. So how do we know the gender of these scientists? Because of a name like Emma or Janice it is likely a woman.. Not a precise method particularly for those people who identify themselves in a different way. Google scholar or Twitter often shows a picture and that is not fool proof either. 

The dilemma is in two ways: manual entries are open to errors in the first place. A six percent error rate is to be expected in any edit and anyone is kindly requested to fix what should be improved; Wikidata is rich in alternatives for male/female identifiers. The alternative is that we do not add a likely gender. This results in no awareness of the composition of the co-authors of an author. No awareness of the volume and balance of people who do not have an article yet.

I think that a male author with only male co-authors is problematic in and of itself. Quite often it is just that no attention was given to female co-authors so I often remedy this by giving attention to them. I add them to Wikidata, look for an ORCiD identifier, a Twitter handle a Google scholar profile. The effect is not only apparent for the male author, but it has an effect on all the co-authors for the newly registered author.

The issue I have is, I see no solution for the dilemma of a gender balance in Wikidata. What I do know is that Wikidata is a collaborative project and anyone is kindly requested to make it as good as it can be.

Thanks, GerardM

1 comment:

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