Reading Monet’s post from Friday, made me want to post about something I first heard about last week.
The volunteer editors of Wikipedia decided that the American Novelist category was becoming too long and decided to move the female authors to a new page named American Women Novelists.
This little change may not have been discussed or even noticed, if it wasn’t for Amanda Filipacchi who discovered the change and wondered how come there weren’t two pages created, one for American Male Novelists and one for American Women Novelists. She wrote an Op-Ed about it for the New York Times and shortly after, that’s exactly what happened.
So you would think then that this was just an honest mistake. The editors of Wikipedia just weren’t sensitive to how wrong it is to qualify books by the gender of the author. But it doesn’t end here.
As Filipacchi describes in a NYT follow-up article, her Wikipedia page was altered. In twenty-four hours, there were 22 changes. Links to outside sources like interviews and reviews were removed. The link to the Op-Ed disappeared. Before this, her page had been changed 22 times over a period of four years. Much wiki-cyber bullying later and Filipacchi’s back on the list of American Novelists, but says, “Taking women’s names off the list of American novelists makes it harder and slower for women to gain equality in the literary world.”
To me, the Wikipedia incident is just another example that shows we still have work to do before women gain full equality, not just in the literary world, but everywhere.
My office at work is in a cluster of six with a student study area in the middle. The day after I’d heard about Filipacchi’s articles, I passed by the whiteboard in the study part and saw an old joke I first encountered years ago while I was a physics undergraduate student. Here’s the joke: Read more »