*The Hindustan Times ( Kolkata edition) : "Wiki wants Women"*

*The international media is abuzz with the gender gap in Wikipedia
contributors around the world. Also, a survey by Wikimedia Foundation shows
that English Wiki has only 13% women editors. To level this skewed ratio,
the Indian Wikipedia community (communities in different languages across
the country) is holding Women’s Wikipedia Workshops (WWW) across several
cities, including Kolkata. Probably a first of its kind initiative, it is
experimental in nature, with future course depending on response from the
first few ones. *
*“We are trying to understand the cause of this trend, psychological or
technological. Though no statistics support it, one can say half the users
on Facebook are women. There are women bloggers, too. So computer illiteracy
is not an issue,” says Cherian Tinu Abraham, administrator in English
*“Our goal is to double the percentage of women by 2015, not just in India,
but around the world,” says Bishakha Datta, member, Wikimedia Foundation
Board of Trustees. *
*However, there is no denying that social networking websites have more
userfriendly applications than Wikipedia. To edit Wiki, one needs to know
syntax, which many say is no rocket science either. “From my interactions
with women, I have observed that they are more users than contributors,”
adds Tinu.*
*In the Indian context, Bishakha explains, Wikipedia has been organising
workshops at premier engineering colleges, as breaking the technological
barrier there is the easiest. “It is coincidental that men are present in
these institutes in larger numbers. But Wikipedia follows a decentralised
medium, with various languages taking it ahead the way they want to.”*
*But for now, not more than two-three women attend the workshops, says Tinu.
“Women think this is ‘geekdom’, and not for them. Add to this, women feel
marginalised in using public resources, not taking up things which are ‘out
there’ for all,” says Rimi B. Chatterjee, author, blogger and Wikipedia
contributor. Adds Bishakha, “Visit the ‘discussion’ section of the topic
‘woman’ on English Wikipedia and you will know what I mean.” The section is
holding a stiff debate on which picture is suitable to represent ‘woman’ —
dressed or nude, anatomical or general, etc. Sanhita Gender Resource Centre
collaborated with Wikimedia Foundation to “explore the use of Bangla Wiki to
make information on women’s rights and issues accessible,” says Soma Sen
Gupta, director, SGRC. The city held it’s first WWW on March 18, with 20
women participants.*

Tinu Cherian
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