International Women's Day Wikipedia overhaul

JRdotcom female team

Even the Wikimedia Foundation admits that Wikipedia is way behind when it comes to the gender gap. (Although we at are proud of our crack team of intelligent, charismatic, dynamic women who are at the heart, power and engine of what we do.)

Wikipedia is quite possibly one of the best-known encyclopaedias in the world. Started in 2001 by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, it was a ground-breaking, pioneering encyclopaedic model in that the content is entirely created, maintained and shared by volunteers all around the world, and both the management and software are collaborative and open source. Despite the inevitable issues this kind of operating model attracts, it is now the world’s largest online encyclopaedia and one of the most heavily trafficked websites on the world wide web.

Somewhat shockingly, however, only 15% of the volunteer contributors are women, and, equally significantly, less than 20% of the biographies in English are of women. The Wikimedia movement recognised this in 2011 and editors got together to focus on female biographies and ‘turn red links blue’. Nonetheless, the gap is still yawningly large, and, as the charismatic and unstoppable Anjali Douglas, events manager for the WSET London School (pictured below), said to me, ‘the drinks industry is no exception’.

Anjalii Douglas events manager WSET London
Anjali Douglas, events manager WSET London School

She sent me some statistics from the ‘List of wine professionals’ page on Wikipedia: the table below shows the number of women among the Wikipedia pages listed in each category. 


No. Women


% women

Vineyard owners
















Wine merchants




Wine critics




Wine writers












Just one quick sweep of the last couple of years of articles on shows how many worthy women are missing from these lists (see the links below). At a recent Furmint masterclass in London, for example, Caroline Gilby MW remarked on the high percentage of female winemakers, winegrowers and vineyard owners in Tokaj. More and more, we're seeing daughters taking over wine estates, women taking up the helm as winemakers, women winning industry awards, women driving change within the industry.

IWD - portraits Mariia to Kimberley

A champagne for Ukraine – Mariia Didkovska

Vulture's new identity – Viviana Malafarina, Elena Fucci and Elisabetta Musto

Gianni Masciarelli Trebbiano d'Abruzzo – Marina Cvetic

Podcast climate change and wine – Elaine Chukan Brown and Kimberley Nicholas

IWD - portraits Sam to Elaine

Podcast food and wine pairing – Jancis Robinson and Tamlyn Currin

Top MW student – Samantha Cole-Johnson

LR Kox Sans Sulfites Ajoutés Crémant de Luxembourg – Corinne Kox

Maryland Wine Finds Its Footing – Kimberley T Johnson and Denise Matthews

Celebrating Elaine Chukan Brown

IWD - portraits Virginia to Jeanne

Vasse Felix Semillon Sauvignon Blanc – Virginia Willcock

South Africa catch-up – Carmen Stevens, Praisy Dlamini, Kiara Scott, Ntsiki Biyela and Jeanne Vito

To begin to readdress the balance, and in celebration of International Women’s Day, the WSET School London have launched a brilliant initiative. Anjali’s email explains it all:

‘Over the month of March, we’re inviting you to create pages on Wikipedia for the women that lead and inspire in the world of wine, spirits, sake and beer. All attendees need to get involved is a laptop/computer and an internet connection. You can complete an entry in your own time, or get together with friends or colleagues to take part as a group. This is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of the women leaders across the trade – and perhaps learn a new skill. Whether you spend 20 minutes improving an entry or two hours researching and writing a brand new one, the amount of time you spend on this is totally up to you. By the end of March, we hope to have created Wikipedia pages for over a hundred women in the industry. Attendees can sign up to receive a how-to guide to creating Wikipedia pages, as well as a list of brilliant women across the drinks trade that do not currently have a Wikipedia presence. If you use the hashtag #IWDWSET to share progress on social media we’ll make sure the pages created are counted in our round-up at the end!

‘Any users based in London are also warmly invited to a final push, drop in edit-a-thon at the WSET School London on Saturday 1 April. We’ll provide snacks and some delicious women-made drinks, we’ll create pages together and announce the final number of entries created.

The goal is to reach the target of 100 new pages of women in wine on Wikipedia.

To take part online, click here.

To take part in the drop-in event at WSET School London, click here.

Top photo: staff and contributors. From left to right from top: Samantha Cole Johnson, Paula Sidore, Julia Harding MW, Jancis Robinson MW, Tamlyn Currin, Rachel Shaughnessy, Tara Q Thomas