Roundup: Closing the gender gap in cinema on Wikipedia

The overwhelming success of the summer blockbuster Wonder Woman has brought new mainstream attention to the topic of gender and cinema, with many media outlets noting that women are less likely to be chosen for major creative and directorial positions or perform as the lead protagonist. Gender equity is a very real issue, which makes Carlton University professor Laura Horak’s class on Topics in Cinema and Gender very timely. Students for this course created and expanded multiple articles on gender related topics such as female creative professionals and their work.

Students created many new articles for the course, one of which is on Deanne Foley, a Canadian director, writer, and producer. Foley was inspired to become a filmmaker after attending a film festival aimed at women, the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival. She has since created several short and feature length films, worked on three television series, and was awarded Artist of the Year at the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council Awards in 2015. Another new addition was the article for Kristiene Clarke, who is cited by several sources as being the first transgender film director in the world to have created documentaries addressing the topic. Through her work Clarke hopes to dispel common misconceptions about transgender persons, most notably the assumption that all transgender individuals are part of one homogeneous group and have the same values as one another. Along with film directing and producing, Clarke also works as an educator at the University of Kent, where she teaches moving image production, and serves as a guest lecturer and educator at other universities worldwide.

Born in South America, filmmaker and writer Michelle Mohabeer hails from Canada, where she has worked as an educator at many universities, including the University of Toronto. Her first short film, Exposure, received notice when it was released in 1990 and was credited as being the first up-front lesbian film from the National Film Board in Studio D. Considered to be groundbreaking, Exposure explores the topics of race and racism, sexuality and homophobia, cultural and ethnic identity. Students expanded the article for Caroline Leaf, a Canadian-American filmmaker, animator, director, producer, and tutor known for her pioneering work at the National Film Board of Canada, where she created the sand animation and paint-on-glass animation techniques.

Fans of French cinema may recognize the name Nadine Trintignant, a French film director, producer, editor, screenwriter, and novelist. Her 1967 film Mon amour, mon amour was nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Trintignant has also written several books and novels. Unafraid of controversy, Trintignant added her name to the Manifesto of the 343 – also known as the “Manifesto of the 343 Sluts” – in 1971. This manifesto was signed by 343 women and was printed in the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur. In the manifesto the women declared that they had received abortions at some point in their lives, which was then illegal in France. The reason for this move was because the women sought to advocate for reproductive rights, something for which they were willing to face criminal prosecution. This proved to be an effective move as it led to further protests and advocacy, which helped impact the 1974/1975 adoption of a law that repealed penalties for receiving an abortion within the first ten weeks of pregnancy.

Wikipedia has a wealth of knowledge. However, the site cannot grow without users contributing to and correcting its information. Editing is a wonderful way to teach your students about technical writing, collaboration, and sourcing in a unique learning environment. If you are interested in using Wikipedia with your next class, please contact Wiki Education at to find out how you can gain access to tools, online trainings, and printed materials.

Image: Carleton_University_River.jpg, by Peregrine981 , CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.


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