Did you know that less than 20% of biographical articles on Wikipedia are about women? That’s a pretty startling statistic when you consider the many extraordinary contributions women have made throughout history in the fields of education, medicine, science, activism, religion, social welfare and scholarship.

To help address this issue, the University of Divinity is taking part in an international effort to increase the number of female biographical entries in Wikipedia.

The Australian Women in Religion Project is the Australian contribution to the wider 1000 Women in Religion Project, a major initiative of the Women's Caucus of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature. Supported by Atla (Collectors and Connectors in Religion and Theology) and the Women's Task Force of the Parliament of World Religions, the project seeks to shine a light on the largely unrecognised work of important women in religion and, importantly, to help address the gender bias on widely accessed platforms like Wikipedia.

The initial target of the Australian Women in Religion Project is to create 100 new Wikipedia entries for Australian women in religion, in addition to updating and improving already-published articles. The University of Divinity project group has already compiled a list of approximately 450 women in religion from both Australia and New Zealand and a bibliography of authoritative sources that can be used when creating new Wikipedia pages.

To update Wikipedia, an onsite (non-Zoom) “edit-a-thon” is being held at the Mannix Library of Catholic Theological College on Saturday 13 March 2021 from 10am-4pm. The date coincides with International Women’s Day (Monday 8 March) and Women’s History Month.

‘Wikipedia is such a go-to reference source for many people,’ says Kerrie Burn, Manager of the Mannix Library. Kerrie’s engagement with the 1000 Women in Religion Project started in 2019, following a chance meeting with the chair of the international committee at a conference in Vancouver.

‘It is great to see the work of more Australian women in religion become accessible on this platform. Right from the get-go, I was keen to initiate an Australian contribution, and so the Australian Women in Religion project at the University of Divinity was born.’

Kerrie says those interested in participating in the project don't necessarily need to become Wikipedia editors. They can also contribute by suggesting names to be added to the existing list or by providing research to the project coordinators beforehand.

‘So many Australian women in religion have made significant contributions in a wide variety of fields.

‘One of the most exciting things for me is selecting a name at random from our list, doing a little research, and discovering the amazing contributions and achievements of these women.'

Register to attend the Australian Women in Religion edit-a-thon at the Mannix Library of Catholic Theological College on Saturday 13 March from 10am-4pm.