Systemic bias against sportswomen on English Wikipedia

 For me, Wikinews and Wikipedia and Commons are all three interlinked, complementary projects… so I am going to divert for a moment to talk about systematic bias against sportswomen on English Wikipedia.  There is a huge amount of talk about female scientists, artists and more.  Sportswomen are often left out of the conversation.  Sports needs attention, now more than ever.

FIFA rules say that national teams are segregated by gender, with a men’s team and a women’s team.  FIFA pages list men and women’s team on pages about the national football federation.  Thus, we have the backdrop for a rename article request for the Australian national soccer team.  The article title is not gendered, and the article is exclusively about the men’s team despite the fact that Australia has a women’s team, the Matildas, who are ranked higher than the men’s team, the Socceroos, could probably dream of.  The women are currently ranked 8th.  The men? 59th.  The women’s team competed at the first World Cup for women. The Australian men? Not so much.  While the Australian women missed the first FIFA organized World Cup, the Matildas have not missed one since then.  The Australian men? Not so much.

The lack of men in the article name about the Socceroos is a form of systematic bias against women in sports.  It implies that Australia has only one national soccer team, a team made entirely of men.  This is patently untrue.  It violates Wikipedia’s policies regarding factual verifiability.  Furthermore, it violates Wikipedia’s policies regarding neutrality by suggesting one team is inherently more important than another: The men matter more and the women’s game should be ghettoized. This sort of systematic discrimination continues on Wikipedia against many other national teams where national teams are segregated by gender by rule.  Despite acknowledging the rules for these sports, FIFA, the Australian Sports Commission, Football Federation Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Corportation, the Socceroos facebook page, SBS, and other media organizations and sport organizations that recognise the co-equal nature of Australia having two national teams, not one, there is pushback from a cohort around Wikiproject Association Football.  Why? Because properly naming the article in compliance with [[WP:PRECISE]], a guideline saying article titles should be precise, and in compliance with [[WP:V]] that says things need to be verifiable and [[WP:NPOV]] that says Wikipedia should be neutral… well, by properly naming these articles, it would imply the women’s game was equivalent to the men’s game.  Worse yet, by moving the Australian article, every non-gendered men’s national team article across all sports would need to be renamed and you just cannot force that by renaming one article.  Policy be damned.  Mustn’t let men’s game be demeaned by suggesting Australia has two senior national teams recognised by FIFA, FFA and the AOC representing the country internationally.

And then people wonder why women would want to contribute to English Wikipedia?  (I still remember the time I was accused by one editor of introducing systematic bias into English Wikipedia by taking too many articles about Australian sportswomen to DYK because it was unfair to men.) This issue needs attention.

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Ready For a (Virtual) League of Our Own | SoshiTech

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