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Home > DIVA Magazine > March 2017 > Let’s hear it for the girls

Let’s hear it for the girls

JANE HILL JOINS A CAMPAIGN TO PROMOTE NOTABLE WOMEN
PHOTO JEFF OVERS/BBC

History is written by the victors. Which people or events are remembered by future generations is dictated by who chronicles them at the time. You would think that the internet has made this process more democratic. Don’t we now all have an opportunity to have our say online, for better or ill? Yet I learnt recently that not even 17% of the profiles on Wikipedia worldwide are of women. And only 15% of the site’s volunteer editors are female. These statistics didn’t particularly surprise me – but of course they are desperately disheartening. Why aren’t female achievements celebrated just as much as those of men? (And I’ve been unable to ascertain what proportion of entries are about LGBT people – perhaps someone reading this can shed some light on that.) In December, the BBC, as part of its 100 Women season, staged a one-day international edit-a-thon, to try to raise awareness of the gender imbalance. I felt it was such an important project, both symbolically and practically – and I particularly wanted to choose a lesbian as my contribution to it. I thought of the many wonderful gay women I meet through the work I do in the field of ED&I (equality, diversity and inclusion); a number of them were already on the site, I discovered, but plenty were not. I nominated Sarah Weir, an excellent role model for gay women, who gave up her job in the financial sector to pursue her love of the arts. She went on to hold senior positions at a major London theatre and on the cultural side of the 2012 Olympics, and has recently been announced as CEO of the Design Council. How can someone who has achieved so much in her field not feature on such a widely-used resource? I wonder how many men who’ve held similarly senior positions, and been awarded an OBE, aren’t listed. There was never any suggestion from the organisers, of course, that Sarah wasn’t an excellent proposal – but this was a global project, and it wasn’t welcomed everywhere. For example, a BBC journalist in Turkey explained what happened when nine profiles were added to Wikipedia there: a male editor complained, claiming none of the entries was notable, even though some of them had appeared in other languages before Turkish. And a female contributor to the project was harassed by having an unpleasant image sent to her Wiki account message box. The male editor was overruled, and was told he wouldn’t be allowed to edit any entries for six months, but his stance is just one small example of how hard it can be to shift the status quo.

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About DIVA Magazine

We are so excited to have the stars of hot new web series Different For Girls on our cover this month! Open up the issue to find out more and read exclusive interviews with the stellar cast, which includes Rachel Shelley, Nimmy March and Guinevere Turner. Also in this issue… Who is your feminism for? The Veronicas on Mardi Gras, body glitter and Ruby Rose Jen Richards tells Carrie Lyell what it’s like to be trans in Hollywood What Would Danvers Do? Feminist life hacks from your TV faves How jail changed me: 60 Days In Jail star Tami Lynn speaks to Claire Harvey BFI Flare 2017: Sophie Ward selects her highlights from the LGBT film festival Sofie Hagen: The Guilty Feminist Why we love: Janelle Monáe Are you a miss-ogynist? PLUS: Travel, fashion, family and much, much more!
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