Dear All,

As one of the few female members of Wikimedia NYC I want to express to you
all my thoughts on the gender dynamics of the group to put things in
perspective. I hope that this email can continue into a wider discussion
about the gender politics of Wikipedia and how to address potential issues
of sexism in our community.

First off, I have been incredibly thankful for the opportunity to work with
all of you and have learned a lot from my participation in this group and
the gracious help of many of you.

That said, I have felt that the attitudes of some community members has
been quite antagonistic towards myself and that this had made me feel
unwelcome. Part of my criticism is that I have felt judged at different
points for not having the same technical strengths and/or community
connections in the group. I think it is important for older members of
Wikimedia NYC to remind themselves that not everyone has the same set of
skills/references to draw from and in order to create a friendly and open
environment for new members we have to be patient teachers to newcomers,
not judgmental exclusivists or lecturers. I also bring this up because I
have had several other women that have been in some way involved or have
worked with Wikimedia NYC members at events express discomfort at the
masculine and/or sexist undertones of some of the training styles of
members of Wikimedia NYC this was even true at the ArtAndFeminism event-
which I found very concerning. This greatly concerns me as the group
already is mostly male members, and the perception of this kind of negative
attitude could only prevent the diversification of our group and its
addressal of the concerns with the gender gap more widely in the Wikipedia

I think one of the problems is that attendees of events don't want to be
told how things are and lectured to as much as they want to be given enough
encouragement to go out and learn the policies/editing on their own. The
difference might seem subtle but I think it is noticeable. I ask each
member of this group to please consider if perhaps you may be implicated in
my concerns here, because this email is not coming out of nowhere but out
of the discomfort and conversation among other members of the group to
which I will leave unnamed.

I also want to stress that Wikimedia NYC should not be a place for
unwanted, unprofessional romantic attention. This kind of attention makes
it hard to feel like a real person when one's intellectual interests are
being interrupted by an objectifying gaze. I ask that the group treat our
events and meetings like a workplace in the sense that harassment of a
sexual or romantic nature should not be tolerated.

Thanks for listening. I hope this conversation evolves perhaps into a
training on how to faster a friendly space environment in groups and/or a
larger discussion of the potential gender gaps within the group. I really
think it should be a conversation- I just felt I needed to express these
frustrations upfront instead of continuing to leave them unaddressed.

Thanks for reading,


Dorothy Howard, Open Data Fellow
Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO)
212.228.2320 x127
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