I am not going to defend the stereotypical figure of Wikipe-tan. However, the rationale of using a female character in Welcome to Wikipedia can be seen in at least two ways: a) the way you described, and b) that we're damned if we do, and damned if we don't. If we had picked a male character in the learning position, that could have been seen as continuing to speak to men. We worked all the time (and several women were involved in this process, including Sue Gardner), trying to focus as her as a person, not as a woman.

I am sorry if I am speaking out of turn here. I just wanted to explain the thinking behind it. Now, I'll shut up and hope that we come back to the important part about creating more female rolemodels.

Best wishes,


Lennart Guldbrandsson,
Fellow of the Wikimedia Foundation / Wikimedia Foudation-stipendiat
Chair of Wikimedia Sverige / ordförande för Wikimedia Sverige http://wikimedia.se
Tfn: 031 - 12 50 48 Mobil: 070 - 207 80 05 Epost: l_guldbrandsson@hotmail.com Användarsida: http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anv%C3%A4ndare:Hannibal Blogg: http://mrchapel.wordpress.com/

Date: Sun, 20 Mar 2011 14:56:49 -0400
From: artisticaltruist@gmail.com
To: gendergap@lists.wikimedia.org
Subject: Re: [Gendergap] Visible female faces for Wikim/pedia

I find it interesting that both comic images (Sara and WIkipe-tan) perpetuate female stereotypes:

- Sara gets to be the person who doesn't know what she's doing. I think the intentions behind this were probably good, but it seems like most ads have the woman as the clueless one. For example, when you want to explain something at the simplest level, you're often told to speak as if you are talking to "Aunt Agatha" instead of "Uncle Fred".

- Wikipe-tan is the one chosen to enforce wiki love, which is another role stereotypically given to females. I guess it's a Rosie the Riveter reference more than an Uncle Sam one, but still, one tells you to go and work, the other tells you to go spread wikiLove (and I don't exactly know what that means in the context of Wikipedia since I've never been the recipient of any wiki love for any of my work on the WMF projects). It does make me feel a bit better, however, that people are being encouraged to spread wiki love, even if I haven't benefited from this directly as a result of my editing on the WMF projects.

The worse one for me is this one of jumping Wikipe-tan with the tiny apron:


I actually like anime and manga (see my Wikipedia edit history for proof), but that one is going way too far for my taste.

2011/3/20 Juliana da Costa José <julianadacostajose@googlemail.com>

I really love the first sentence here [1]:

"Wikipe-tan is one of the personifications of Wikipedia."

So if you see the following pictures (my favourites are this [2] and
[3]) and see a child-eyed girl in french-roommade-dress and hold-ups
cleaning so it says a lot about the picture of women a lot of
Wikipedians (both genders!) accepted as normal.

Very diagnostically conclusive for the picture of females in Wikipedia
is this [4]

But maybe I am just a comic-banause because I do not like funny mangas
or animes. I am sorry about this...
I worked very long in jobs women were just scored by optical an sexual
clichees, maybe this made me a little bit touchy...


1 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Wikipe-tan?uselang=de

2 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Uncle_Wikipe-tan_%28show_some_WIKILOVE%29.png

3 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wikipe_tan_by_SigurdHosenfeld.png

4 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jimbo_and_Wikipe-tan.jpg?uselang=de

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