On the third floor of the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, or PICA, a group of men and women are huddled around a table, buried in their laptops.
They’re part of a massive editing session to create more diverse voices and content on Wikipedia, with a focus on women artists.
A study by the Wikipedia Foundation found fewer than 10 percent of site editors on the open-source website were female.
Roya Amirsoleymani, PICA’s director of community engagement, believes that disparity is apparent in Wikipedia content.
“When you have the case of predominantly white males behind Wikipedia, then what you have is a skewed representation and perception of what’s important, what’s represented and who’s represented,” she said.
Saturday’s event was part of a larger campaign called Art+Feminism. The organization hosted its first Wikipedia edit-a-thon in New York in 2014. The Portland event is one of more than 50 across the globe this year.
“I see things that are wrong, especially if it’s a topic that I’ve done a lot of work on,” said Portland State University film professor Kristin Hole.
Hole attended Saturday’s edit-a-thon and related to the lack of female artists on Wikipedia. She has often looked up an actor or film that she’s curious about, only to find that a Wikipedia page doesn’t exist.
“I think it makes things seem almost like they don’t matter or definitely like they’re less significant,” Hole said.
Others took issue with the way females in the art world were described. Portland artist Taryn Tomasello points to Jackson Pollock’s page as an example. It references Lee Krasner — also a famous artist — but only as Pollock’s wife.
“Whereas, Lee Krasner’s page references Jackson Pollock and has this very long entry about him and his art practice,” Tomasello said. “So the way that they are written about is totally different.”
“We’ve definitely been hearing for years about a content gap in women’s coverage,” said Jason Moore, a Wikipedia editor who led a workshop Saturday to teach basic coding and editing skills.
Moore has been editing pages daily for the past 10 years and estimates that he’s assisted in more than 200,000 Wikipedia articles. Moore, himself a white male, knows there’s room for improvement.
“People really trust that when they go to Wikipedia, they’re going to find information about what they’re looking for and it’s going to be reliable information,” Moore said. “But if there’s gaps, that’s where we have work to still do.”
A second Portland Art+Feminism Wikipedia edit-a-thon will take place Saturday, April 29 at the Pacific Northwest College of Art Library from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.