Wikimedia Blog/Drafts/Combating systemic bias in national team sport articles

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Combating systemic bias in national team sport articlesEdit

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Systemic bias regarding women about women and female participation is an issue that the Wikimedia Foundation has spent a lot of time and effort trying to address. It has resulted in the creation of Visual Editor, rolled out across multiple Wikimedia projects, and the creation of the Teahouse on English Wikipedia. Chapters inside the movement are taking their own steps to address this. There was the Wiki Women Camp in Argentina last year that was supported by Wikimedia Deutschland, Wikimedia Argentina and Wikimedia Australia. There was the Diversity Conference hosted by Wikimedia Deutschland this year. Wikimedia UK, Wikimedia DC and Wikimedia NYC have all held workshops and edit-a-thons specifically targetting women.

Beyond the Foundation based architecture, female editors, their male supporters and both sexes engaged in writing content about women are beginning to work towards community driven solutions.

One of the most visible areas for improving systemic bias against women involves national sport team articles. At present, many national team articles are gendered exclusively for women but not for men. This situation exists even where the rules for the sport segregate the sexists for international competitions. This is true for soccer governed by FIFA, basketball governed by FIBA, goalball governed by the IBSA, cricket and the International Cricket Council, rugby union and the IRU, and numerous other sports. The female gendered articles and non-male gendered national team articles issue exists across a number of different language Wikipedia, including English Wikipedia, Spanish Wikipedia, Hindi Wikipedia, French Wikipedia, German Wikipedia, and many others.

From a feminist perspective, sports is a keenly important issue to address issues of gender equity. In the United States, Title IX was fundamental towards providing a roadmap for equality for women in education. The refusal of the government of Saudi Arabia for a long time to include women on their Olympic time drew a huge amount of attention to general plight of women in the country. Across Africa, sport has provided women with numerous leadership opportunities that they have been able to apply in other areas of society. Participation in sport and exercise for women is often tied in nationally to overall female health; the greater the participation, the healthier women are. When women are unable to participate, it often signals greater societal problems. Look at the situation with the Fatwah against the women's national soccer team in Sudan, or the situation in Sierre Leone following the civil war. Look at the recent emergence of a professional women's league in Rwanda that attracts female players from countries in the surrounding area.

Addressing this area is very important, and a number of contributors in various languages have taken an interest in addressing it by proposing article renames, tagging general non-gendered sport and national team articles as non-neutral and discussing the issue on mailing lists, IRC, Facebook and Twitter.

This is an issue that matters to Wikipedia and it is great to see men and women working together to address the systemic bias. One of the core pillars of all Wikipedia projects is neutrality. One of the core policies is verifiability. As Wikipedians, we are not supposed to judge the relative merits of one gender over another. That's a discussion for sport fans and sports journalists to have. With two senior national teams, Wikipedians should take care to avoid violating these policies by suggesting that one team is the true, ungendered national representative and one team is the inferior and gendered one. By complying with policies regarding neutrality and verifiability, these contributors active in this area are helping to bring attention to systemic bias, providing an environment to encourage women to participate, and fostering an environment where we can create content about women. At the same time, these editors are helping Wikipedia live up to its highest ideals regarding providing free information to everyone in the world that is both neutral, factual and verifiable.


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