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NWSA Wikipedia Initiative

NWSA Wikipedia Initiative

Announcing call for applications for new pilot with Wiki Education to learn how to contribute to Wikipedia
Wikipedia is a resource people use every day to better understand the world. In a time when terms like "alternative facts" and "fake news" have become shorthand for a wide range of political, educational, and epistemological challenges to public knowledge, it's crucial that we ensure the quality of our most popular source of information.

Wikipedia represents the interests and expertise of the volunteer community who writes it. But research has shown that only about 10% of those volunteers identify as women. This gender gap in participation affects Wikipedia's content. Important and complex topics relevant to women and gender studies remain underdeveloped, poorly explained, or missing entirely. Since 2014, we've partnered with Wiki Education to try to fix that.

We know how passionate our members are about sharing knowledge, and your experience with the field's literature, ideas, perspectives, disputes, misconceptions, and histories position you to impact public knowledge significantly through Wikipedia. Thanks to our members teaching with Wikipedia, students have already added 2.44 million words to articles about women and gender studies, and there's more to improve. That's why we are pleased to announce Wikipedia Fellows, an interdisciplinary project led by Wiki Education to train academic scholars to contribute to Wikipedia. This pilot is a key component of their effort to empower the public to participate fully as citizens by accessing important academic knowledge via Wikipedia.

Our Wikipedia Fellows will join members from two other academic associations in a 3-month pilot, from January to April 2018. Participants will learn to contribute to Wikipedia, receiving guidance and support as they make contributions to important topics in their areas of expertise.

  • No experience with Wikipedia is required.
  • Participants are asked to commit 3 hours/week, including training and group meetings.
  • Wiki Education will provide training, guidance, and support throughout the process, using video conferences and Slack, a free cloud-based chat/collaboration service.
  • Participants will learn how to make significant contributions to at least two Wikipedia articles by the end of the program.
  • Informal support will remain available after the end of the pilot.
  • Fellows will fill out short surveys in the beginning and end of the program, and Wiki Education asks them to write one reflective blog post (on about their experience.
For more information, visit or email If you're interested in participating, please fill out the Wikipedia Fellows application here

Wiki Education's Educational Partnerships Manager, Jami Mathewson, will attend the annual meeting in Baltimore, where she'll be available to answer questions about this pilot. 

Teaching with Wikipedia: The Wikipedia Education Program

The goal of the NWSA Wikipedia Initiative is simple: Make information available about women's studies and feminist topics on Wikipedia as complete and accurate as possible. To reach that goal, NWSA is encouraging our members to contribute content to Wikipedia or make use of Wikipedia-based assignments for students as part of your coursework, in partnership with the Wiki Education Foundation.

Why Wikipedia?

When the public searches for information, the top search results are Wikipedia articles. As the fifth most-visited website, Wikipedia is the go-to resource for knowledge on every topic, and all of that content has been written by volunteers. As women’s studies scholars, it's important to ensure that the information on Wikipedia is accurate, fair, and representative of women’s experiences, achievements, and struggles.

It is not always the case. For years, information on topics relevant to women simply haven’t been present, or had the same quality, as others. Some articles on Wikipedia that had been absent or incomplete — such as birth control, gender inequality, maternity leave, feminism, pregnancy risks in developing countries, the refugee status of women, sex work, and the women’s role in the Arab Spring — are now thriving thanks to the engaged efforts of students and instructors who used Wikipedia in their classroom assignments.

As part of our commitment to social change, NWSA is encouraging our members to actively participate in curating knowledge on Wikipedia about our field and about a wide variety of feminist topics.

The easiest way to improve Wikipedia’s representation of women is to participate in the Wikipedia Education Program, a project in which students contribute content to Wikipedia in place of a traditional research paper through a classroom activity. The Wikipedia Education Program in the United States and Canada is run by the Wiki Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization partnering with NWSA to support our Wikipedia Initiative.

Here's how it works. A Wiki Education Foundation staff member will help you craft an assignment that enables your students to improve Wikipedia articles as they relate to the topic of any class. Wiki Ed has an online training for you and your students and brochures and handouts for you to distribute to students in class. As your students craft their Wikipedia articles, they'll be gaining key skills like:

• Fact-based, neutral writing
• Research
• Media literacy and source evaluation
• Critical thinking
• Collaboration

And best of all, their coursework will serve to improve publicly available information about the subjects you teach.

Ready to get started?

Reach out to the Wiki Education Foundation at and tell them you're interested in participating in the NWSA Wikipedia Initiative, or check out for a full list of resources available to help you craft your assignment and run it successfully.