Wikipedia has been taking flak since a New York Times contributor noticed the site has been moving all women from its “American novelists” category to a new, specially created subcategory: “American female novelists.”
As Amanda Filipacchi notes, there’s a glaring lack of an “American male novelists” section; instead, the main “American novelists” category is now populated exclusively by male authors. Filipacchi writes:
“People who go to Wikipedia to get ideas for whom to hire, or honor, or read, and look at that list of “American Novelists” for inspiration, might not even notice that the first page of it includes far more men than women. They might simply use that list without thinking twice about it. It’s probably small, easily fixable things like this that make it harder and slower for women to gain equality in the literary world.”
The removal of female writers as famous and influential as Sylvia Plath, Harper Lee, Ayn Rand, Anne Rice, Amy Tan, Donna Tartt, and Flannery O’Connor has raised eyebrows in the literature world. Filipacchi continues:
“If you look back in the ‘history’ of these women’s pages, you can see that they used to appear in the category ‘American novelists,’ but that they were recently bumped down. Male novelists on Wikipedia, however – no matter how small or obscure they are – all get to be in the category ‘American novelists.’ “
Wikipedia editors have revealed the “American female novelists” subcategory was originally created because the “American novelists” section had become so large, with almost 4,000 names in the list.
To their credit, editors on the site have now begun the task of adding female novelists back to the main “American novelists” category.
What do you think about Wikipedia’s oversight?