04/07/20 International Women’s Month Wiki-thon Aims to Increase Representation
In honor of International Women’s Month, the Diversity, Inclusion and Access committee at the USC School of Architecture hosted its annual Wiki-thon last week to expand Wikipedia profiles of women practitioners in architecture, landscape architecture, heritage conservation and building science. The event was co-hosted by two of USC Architecture’s student organizations—the Student Association for Women in Architecture (SAWA) and the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS)—as well as USC Libraries and faculty at the School.
The event aims to create awareness about women architects by adding accurate information to their Wikipedia pages in order to drive traffic and create a more fair representation of architects online. According to Aroussiak Gabrielian, assistant professor and faculty coordinator of the event, only a small percentage of Wikipedia’s editors are female and they contribute 50 percent less content than their male counterparts. The event aims to change this narrative and drive more representation on the site and in the field.
“This systemic bias, combined with the gender discrepancies within architecture and allied design fields, overlooks women’s significant contributions to the architectural profession, to scholarship in the field, and beyond,” explained Gabrielian. “This event is rewarding for me personally—as a female, as a mother of daughters, as a professional in the field, as a scholar in academia, and as an activist-leaning creative practitioner working to dismantle structures of power and privilege that render specific humans, species, and matter silent.”
Last year’s event created close to 50 total edits on Wikipedia, reaching 74,000 people to date. By hosting these events yearly, the USC School of Architecture hopes to continue this impact and reach wider audiences, giving women architects the praise they deserve. This year’s event was hosted virtually over Zoom, where 104 participants learned about the importance of strengthening women architect pages on Wikipedia. Through presentations, voice discussions and chat discussions on the conferencing platform, organizers noted that the event ran smoothly and was a great success.
“This event means a great deal to me, as we are further connecting our female community here in the School of Architecture, as well as honoring and empowering each other as women in this field,” expressed Abriannah Aiken (B.Arch ’21), president of SAWA. “It was great to see the SOA community come together on Zoom, despite the physical constraints, to celebrate women in architecture. We are looking forward to an even bigger in-person celebration next year!”