The entry for employment equity as of March 5, 2011, ran as follows:
Employment equity refers to Canadian policies that require or encourage preferential treatment in employment practices for certain designated groups: women, people with disabilities, Aboriginal peoples, and visible minorities. Employment equity goes beyond mere non-discrimination in requiring these specific groups be targeted for proactive treatment.
Whether you like employment equity or loathe it, as a definition, that's simply wrong.
I've changed it to:
Canada's Employment Equity Act requires employers to identify and eliminate employment barriers for members of four designated groups: women, people with disabilities, Aboriginal peoples, and visible minorities. Examples of employment barriers are wheelchair inaccessible buildings, that create a physical barrier to people with disabilities, or practices that make some people feel uncomfortable, such as holding management meetings in strip clubs....
The new version is more accurate: the employment equity act does not encourage or require preferential treatment.1
I've also added a reference to an excellent paper by Cristina Echevarria and Mobinul Huq that critiques employment equity.
Here are some other Wikipedia pages that could use work:
- Income gender gap (for some reason "gender pay gap" redirects to this page)
- Gender empowerment measure and Gender-related development index
- Pages for Mabel Timlin, Alice Nakamura (first female president of the Canadian Economics Association), or just about any other Canadian female economist except for Irene Spry and Jane Jacobs.
- The page on Child Benefit has no information at all about Canada.
Now, to be quite honest, just looking at this list makes me feel like logging off and going snowshoeing. It would be a lot of work to update all of this information. I would get no recognition for doing so. Anyways, people should be getting information from proper web resources, not Wikipedia. It just doesn't appeal to me. And judging from the relatively small proportion of Wikipedia contributors who are female, I'm not alone.
One theory is that women don't edit Wikipedia because it is an "obsessive fact-loving realm that is dominated by men and...uncomfortable for women." A recent blog comment by Jaques Giguere attributed some gender differences in on-line behaviour to lekking - a form of sexual display where males congregate and compete for mates. I like the theory, but it strikes me that posting anonymously on Wikipedia is a pretty ineffectual way of displaying one's prowess.
My own theory is that women are less interested this kind of intellectual competition - after all, deleting someone else's entry is kind of the scholarly equivalent of checking someone into the boards and taking the puck off them. I also think that women are conditioned or programmed (take your pick) to be modest and value modesty - it's not feminine to go to Wikipedia and create a page about yourself, or go through entries and add references to your own work.
Wikipedia defines feminism as "movements aimed at defining, establishing and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women." Employment equity is, in Canada, one of the key policies directed towards improving women's opportunities. Today, if you google "Employment equity", the Wikipedia entry comes up as the number three hit. The way in which employment equity is defined on Wikipedia has a big impact on how people view and understand the policy.
March 8th is International Women's Day. But forget about marching on the streets or holding up placards (unless you happen to enjoy that kind of thing - in which case, go for it). People's views are shaped by what they believe, which in turn is shaped by what they read. So if you want to change the world, Wikipedia is a good place to begin.
Footnote: 1. An employer that has serious problems meeting equity targets might sometimes end up doing that, but those measure would have to be "tailored to a situation of demonstrable disadvantage, temporary in nature, and designed in a manner which prevents undue exclusionary effects on non-designated group members."