Improving online visibility of fire women

Last month we were proud to be involved with the #VisibleWikiWomen campaign organised by not-for-profit, Whose Knowledge. The initiative aims to give notable women the visibility and acknowledgment they deserve on Wikipedia (the free encyclopedia). To reach that goal, Whose Knowledge reach out to many organisations to participate, including women’s and feminist organizations.

“Getting three notable fire women profiled was a good start! All these women have done so much to progress equality in the fire service. I’d like to thank Dany, Alex and Jo for their time, for donating images and helping contribute to the campaign’s goal.

—Nathalie Holden, WFS Marketing and Communications Officer

Our Marketing and Communications Officer noticed some important women in fire didn’t have a picture on their Wikipedia page. And so got in touch with Whose Knowledge to find out how to take part. The notable women in question were Dany Cotton, first woman to hold the position of Chief Commissioner of London Fire Brigade; Josephine Reynolds, first woman firefighter, of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service; and Alex Johnson, Chief Fire Officer of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue.

‘Through the campaign, I discovered Wikipedia has a huge gender gap – less than 20% of Wikipedia volunteers (people like me, who add pictures, etc.) are women, and there’s also a lot of important content missing about women. As a new volunteer for Wikipedia, I’d never uploaded images to Wikipedia or Wikimedia Commons before, so it was great to learn practically how to navigate that. Next year I’d like to get more people involved. Do something bigger like run an editathon to improve representation of women in the fire sector on Wikipedia.

The issue

Less than ¼ of Wikipedia biographies represent women. More often than not, women biographies don’t have images. We estimate that less than 20% of Wikipedia articles of important women have pictures. And, when women’s faces are missing from Wikipedia, that invisibility spreads.

—Whose Knowledge

‘Images are donated and published under an open Creative Commons license, enabling free use of that image. This makes it easy for those doing good to use those images without having to worry about copyright. For example, a firefighter or teacher giving a presentation in a school. Or it could be someone writing a blog on the history of fire women. The easier it is for role models like Alex, Dany and Jo to be seen, the better chance to inspire the next generation.’

—Nathalie, WFS Marketing Officer

Feature image by Tinaral – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0