#DonesAmbCategoria, a campaign for female categories in Wikipedia
TEXT: Mercè Molist
A group of publishers of the free encyclopaedia Wikipedia in Catalan has started the campaign #DonesAmbCategoria to show the lack of female categories on Wikipedia. This means that a female writer is indexed under “writers” or a female politician is included in “politicians” because the same categories specifically for women do not exist. And this, they say, must change.
“Is Carme Puche i Moré “a film director from Barcelona”? “A scriptwriter from Barcelona”? “A radio presenter from Barcelona”? That’s how she’s classed in the categories of the Catalan @Wikipedia”. This is just one of the tweets to be found on the @DonesAmb, Twitter account opened expressly for the campaign. The account shows dozens of women who are in Wikipedia and the corresponding categories under which they are listed. Gemma Lienas is “a feminist from Barcelona”, Bel Olid is “a writer from Mataró” and Núria Salán “a chemist from Barcelona”.
The categories can be found at the end of each Wikipedia article, and are used to index them. “Whenever you consult Wikipedia in Catalan, you can see that women are categories under the “plural neuter” tag, except for the odd few occasions. These often coincide with a highly feminised profession or trait, such as “midwives” or “concubines””, they explain in the press release sent to the media.
The issue of gender categories in Wikipedia in Catalan is a recurrent solution that has never been solved, unlike other wikipedias such as the English, German, Spanish or Basque versions: “It’s easy to find female botanists, for example, in the French and English versions of Wikipedia because the categories “femmes botanistes” and “women botanists” exist, respectively, whereas in the Catalan version you have to enter the “botanists” category”, they explain. This leads to bizarre situations such as the categories “rhythmic gymnasts”, “feminists from Barcelona” or “synchronised swimmers from Barcelona” that only include women.
“Given that the Catalan Wikipedia is one of the most highly-consulted websites, women should be as visible as men in a society like ours“
The argument behind this policy, they say, is that “the Catalan Wikipedia bases its linguistic criteria on the rules of the Institute of Catalan Studies and the Valencian Language Academy, which use neuter nouns to describe men and women. But what do language academies have to do with a category-based ontological classification?”. They add: “Failure to change a consensus reached in the very heart of Wikipedia itself, which is easy and complication-free, helps foster this imbalance”.
The anonymous people behind this campaign indicate that they see “no form of justification for not categorising women by gender”. According to them, “accepting that only neuter categories can be created leads to the invisibility of women, which is unacceptable in the 21st century”. They appeal to the 5th pillar of Wikipedia, which states: “Wikipedia has no firm rules”.
The #DonesAmbCategoria campaign is directed not only at the publishers of Wikipedia but also at its readers: “We would ask the Catalan Wikipedia community to listen and accept this claim so that female categories can be created. Given that the Catalan Wikipedia is one of the most highly-consulted websites, women should be as visible as men in a society like ours”. The critical point of the campaign will be on 8th March, and they hope to be able to achieve this change after all their efforts.