Increasing the number of female editors of Wikimedia projects has been identified by the Wikimedia Foundation as one of the main targets for 2012. Yet, it took us several years to introduce gender-related names and messages to the interface of MediaWiki, and at the time of this writing (early March 2012), there are still about 20 (and counting!) open bugs on Bugzilla which are related to interface discrimination of women in our software.
A public discussion on the topic of gender-neutral language held in Poland in February 2012 (fuelled by a catchy press article titled "Wikisexism") has shed another, non-technical, light on this problem: should Wikipedia, as the ultimate encyclopaedia created entirely by Internet users, and hence democratic in its nature and reach, allow the use of grammatically incorrect yet allegedly women-friendly equivalents of men-specific words, such as names of occupations and academic titles in gender-exclusive languages (for instance several Slavic languages, including Polish)?
Should the project—and, with its shockingly low, just 9% involvement of women, is it able to—promote women's rights not only in its technical areas, but also in the ultra-strict article namespace? How can be this achieved without violating the fundamental principles of Wikipedia, and the neutral point of view in particular? How can the project and its contributors, being under a constant pressure from the feminist groups, end a 5-year-long discussion on this topic without opening Pandora's box?
This presentation is intended to start with a short introduction to the technical aspects of gender neutrality in MediaWiki, but will focus primarily on the community- and content-related aspects of the problem, and will aim to answer the above questions, presenting possible solutions and taking into consideration real-life examples from various Wikimedia wikis. A 10-12 minutes long discussion is intended to be an integral and equally important part of the presentation.
WikiCulture and Community
Length of presentation/talk
25 minutes (15 minutes + ca. 10 minutes for discussion)
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Slides will be provided in PDF or a LibreOffice Impress format
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