Wikipedia:Writing about women

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When writing about women on Wikipedia, make sure the content and titles do not use sexist language or promote sexist stereotypes.

Women are thought to comprise between 8.5[1] and 16.1[2] percent of editors on the English Wikipedia. This means that most articles are written by men, as are most of the content policies, including the notability and referencing policies. Those policies determine which articles about women can be hosted and frame how they are written.

The combined effect of personnel and policy is the gender imbalance of our content. As of 5 March 2018, 267,241 biographies on the English Wikipedia were about women (17.49%) out of 1,527,862 overall.[3] As a result of sourcing and notability issues, almost all biographies before 1900 are of men.[a] Achieving gender balance, diversity and fairness is in the interests of all editors and readers. This page may help to identify the subtle and more obvious ways in which titles, language, images and linking practices on the English Wikipedia can discriminate against women.

Male is not the default

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Avoid language and images that make male the Self and female the Other.[5] Researchers have found that Wikipedia articles about women are more likely to contain words such as woman, female and lady, than articles about men are to contain the male equivalents. This suggests that editors see male as the default or null gender, and that biographies are assumed to be of men unless otherwise stated.[6][7]

Avoid labelling a woman as a female author or female politician, unless her gender is explicitly relevant to the article. In April 2013 several media stories noted that editors on the English Wikipedia had begun moving women from Category:American novelists to Category:American women novelists, while leaving men in the main category.[8][9] Linguists call this markedness. Treating a man who is a writer as a "writer" and a woman as a "woman writer" presents women as "marked", or the Other, requiring an adjective to differentiate them from the male default.[10]