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Member-Led Effort Will Bring Histories of Women, People of Color in Design to Wikipedia

By / Sep 24, 2021 (zmeel/iStock Unreleased)

A new initiative will fill gaps in the missing narratives of women and people of color in design by training members how to successfully write content for the free encyclopedia platform Wikipedia.

If a person isn’t on Wikipedia, did they ever exist? Unfortunately, not really because their story isn’t being told. There are many diverse histories of women and people of color missing on the open access platform and, according to Wiki Education, only 18 percent of biographies on English Wikipedia are of women.

AIGA, the professional association for design, aims to change that by addressing gaps in its community’s representation with AIGA Wiki Scholars, a training program that will shine a light on the histories of underrepresented designers on Wikipedia.

“We’re basically harnessing the mission of our organization, which is advancing design, and our mission about pushing it out as a craft and empowering our community to be active in creating the content,” said Bennie F. Johnson, AIGA’s executive director.

AIGA partnered with Wiki Education on the program, which will train AIGA members during a six-week training course to improve and create biographies of designers and other artists currently missing or underrepresented on Wikipedia.

AIGA conducted new research, which showed women comprise 60 percent of design communities, making the initiative even more pressing as it aims to bridge those gaps in knowledge and increase awareness of people in the design profession.

“When you have an intractable challenge, you don’t do it by yourself, you engage others,” Johnson said. “It’s an opportunity to look at meaningful, pragmatic things we can do to move us forward.”

Many areas of Wikipedia are deep in content and others are not because there aren’t writers or contributors writing about certain topics. “The stories exist, the images, the information, but it hasn’t been put in a place that can be amplified in public knowledge,” Johnson said, which is why it was important to partner with Wiki Education so members could learn how to create lasting content effectively.

“AIGA is able to have an impact, not just on the design community, but through the design community to the larger public about elevating these histories,” Johnson said. “When you elevate these histories, you’re going to have more stories about the impact of women in design and about people of color in design.”

Lisa Boylan

Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now. More »

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