In a post-factual world where our digital news is curated according to our filtered bubbles, we still have access to some online sources operating within a democratic system of checks and balances, with the sole intent to register and publicize facts. One of these sources is not a soapbox, nor a promotional platform, but a community of volunteer editors, dedicated to standards ensuring the veracity and quality of the information it publishes. This source is an open system, of objective knowledge attributed to reliable, published sources, meant to accurately reflect history and culture. The standards by which this source operates, aim to provide the world with the truth; not perceptions of truth, not relative truth, but actual, verifiable facts. The source is Wikipedia, the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet, a free encyclopedia, written collaboratively by the people who use it. Fact-checking is its cornerstone. Yet Wikipedia, like the architecture and allied professions has its biases. Sue Gardner said: “Wikipedia will only contain ‘the sum of all human knowledge’ if its editors are as diverse as the population itself: you can help make that happen.”
More than 80% of Wikipedia contributors are male, 75% of who are under the age of thirty. Less than 1% of women practicing architecture are represented on Wikipedia, and even less who practice in design-related disciplines. While women have had considerable success in recent years, gaining recognition for their achievements in architecture and design, inequities and unconscious bias persist and dominate the global debate on their contributions. The truth is, is that women have had significant roles in the creation of the built environment as long as the environment was built. These contributions hold intrinsic value, and if publicly documented, could assist in altering the perception of women’s enduring status as leaders in the design professions. And although the dearth of women practicing architecture and design exists, Wikipedia must reconcile what we know to be true. Women’s work is grossly underrepresented, and we can easily correct this perception online. The fundamental value of the design of the built environment lies not only in the benefits to the humans who inhabit it, but also in the professionals who create it.
Join us in correcting the perception of the past and the present. Adding articles about the lives and works of women in Women in Architecture + Design will level biases, eliminate speculation, and tell the truth…the evidence of that which was, and is. Learn how Saturday, February 11th at the AWA+D Women In Design #WikiD Writing Workshop in the Kappe Library at SCI-Arc. Register before February 10th, 2017.
Nina Briggs, AWA+D Archivist