User:SMcCandlish/Gendered category criterion Information

From Wikipedia

I'm not at all a fan of these Fooian female/women barbazzes categories in most cases because they have a "ghettoizing" effect, especially a psycho-social one. Every time we use a category like "Category:British female artists", etc. without a well-sourced reason for having it, it's like describing someone as "my Jewish friend Jimmy" instead of "my friend Jimmy".

Previous RfCs and other discussion about such categories have been sharply critical, yet we still keep having the categories. Why? As far as I can tell it's just for the convenience of some individuals. By this reasoning, WP:OVERCAT should simply be marked {{ Historical}} and ignored, since every intersection of topics turned into a category is convenient for someone. The more obvious ghettoizing effect, of women not being found in general categories but only in "women" or "female" subcategories, is partially resolved by making them non-diffusing categories; however, this still depends on editors actually listing these subjects in the specific and the general category, and them remaining categorized that way, which is often not the case. And this does nothing about the perception problem. [PS: All of this applies to other such "socially charged demographics" categories like "gay", "Catholic", "Hispanic", etc., though we're mostly rid of those that are not well-justified.]

We need to come up with a compromise that draws an easy-to-understand line. The one I suggest is this: Such a category is created/kept only if we're certain that a properly encyclopedic article can and should be written about it (or already has been), at least at the top of the category tree.

Here's a detailed example: I wanted to delete Category:Female pool players as ghettoizing, when it was first created, but I would !vote to keep it now, because it would be both possible and desirable to have a comprehensive Women in billards (or whatever) article that covered this history:

  1. Billiards started as a unisex game of the European nobility, and remaining that way through centuries of diffusion to lower classes.
  2. It changed to an almost exclusively male activity (outside the home) for over a century ( pool was associated with gambling and other ne'er-do-well activities, carom billiards and English billiards as sports were regulated by all-male sports organizations, and public recreational tables were found almost only in pubs (where women were generally not welcome yet) and men's private clubs.
  3. Pool in turn became an almost exclusively male competitive sport, until the 1960s saw women players demanding to be permitted in pro tournaments and meeting player and organizational resistance (to the present day).
  4. All this culminating in the founding of the Women's Professional Billiard Association in 1976 and its continued success, with women actually now dominating the public face of pool and making more stable incomes at it than the male pros (because WPBA got its shizzit together on many levels, from savvy marketing to guaranteed prize money held in escrow to exclusive long-term TV deals, and so on.
  5. Similar story with snooker, except that the female pros are actually ghettoized within their sub-industry (they don't have a successful WPBA equivalent), and many of them consequently have switched to pool; until recently, women's pro pool was dominated mostly by former pro snooker players.
  6. At top-level pro play, the games remain almost entirely segregated, with the World Pool-Billiard Association and similar sport governing bodies maintaining separate men's and women's divisions, though many events are divided now into "open" and women's, with women allowed in the former.

It's fair to say that our coverage of pool is sorely incomplete until this article is written. The same is not true of most occupations (the typical arc is that they were virtually all male-dominated in a simply de facto way, until women entered the non-domestic workforce in massive numbers).

Counter-example: There's nothing like the women-and-cue-sports story when it comes to women playing particular musical instruments. Women drummers (to use an example from a thread at Wikipedia talk:Categorizing redirects) are actually quite common, they're just not very common among touring pros probably simply because drum kits seem to appeal more to males on average (whether that's a factor of marketing or what is off-topic for now). It's exactly the same as the relative lack of women construction contractors; it's not a line of work that seems to attract many women. It is not like the lack of women fighter pilots or female players of American football, which are in fact due mostly to institutionalized discrimination, exactly as with pool: we have clear proof of long-term, organized efforts to bar women's entry. We do not when it comes to drumming or working with power tools.

Our coverage of drumming in popular music isn't incomplete without an article on players who are female, and writing one would be an exercise in original research and PoV editorializing, due to lack of secondary sources for "women as drummers" being a subject of coverage of its own. There's lots and lots of material about women as billiardists and the industry response to them (though much of it is in speciality publications like Billiards Digest and not available online, so doing the article will require library work).

What's current practice? We seem to keep keeping stuff like Category:Actresses and its zillion subcats (despite decreasing support for even using this term at all in female actor bios), on the sole basis that there are some separate awards (Oscars, Golden Globes, etc.) for actresses and male actors, despite there being no particular difference between an actor and an actress in what they do and how they do it. This doesn't really seem good enough to me. It's really quite flimsy.

The reason we have these separate categories has nothing to do with the people receiving them but with the nature of human fiction, which usually involves a love interest which in turn is usually heterosexual; it violates average public expectations that the two main stars in a movie that is at least partially about their relationship are directly competing with each other for a single award. So, they have separate awards to make people happy – and it also lets them give out more awards per film, which makes the awards show go on much longer, which means more sponsor advertising dollars, and so on. It's a business decision.

What's the problem? The above is a very poor rationale to differently label and categorize bios in an encyclopedia. The problem with this weak "sometimes some separate treatment, like for awards" standard is it could be used to "women-fork" any occupational category of any kind as long as someone can find, somewhere, a case of women and men receiving recognition in a sex-divided way. We can do better than this, by tying it to there being a sourceable distinction on many levels, about which a proper article can be written. Important: Actress redirects to Actor, and any attempt to fork it would fail. And "sometimes separate treatment" doesn't cut it anyway. We don't have separate articles on driving cars and teenage driving cars, despite there in fact being separate laws about the latter.

What about other categories? When it comes to bios, the craptastical ghettoizing effect can be mitigated a little by other categories; e.g., Georgia O'Keefe is in the arguably pointless Category:American women painters, but also in Category:20th-century American painters which is not divided by sex. This should be probably be done in all cases in which we have a gendered category split and the members of it span more than a century and there are enough in the categories for a split. But this only works when the main category (here, Category:American painters) is a container category and stuff is all supposed to be in subcats [that category badly needs work in this regard].

It doesn't work for, e.g. Category:Women eSports players; the number of notable pro gamers is too small for such a split, and it's an occupation almost entirely confined to the 21st century (some 1990s, but not enough for a century split). And Category:Women eSports players is perhaps the worst example of all time, since there are not reliably sourceable differences between male and female gamers, other than that some of the former have been total asshats to some of the latter; half the time no one's even going to know what their sex or gender identity is unless they disclose it or they show up for an in-person, live-action competition, and even then people can "pass" if they try hard. It's not sufficient (yet) that we have articles at Women and video games and Sexism in video gaming, almost entirely about video game marketing and amateur player experience, respectively. They're not focused on women as pro gamers, game developers, or other professionals, and it's unlikely that a proper encyclopedia article can be written about that; there simply isn't enough history there, and what there is isn't sufficiently distinct from men doing the same work.

What about wikiprojects' tracking needs? The argument is offered that we need these categories, and lots more of them, to help wikiprojects keep track of the level of article development in particular topic areas. But this is not what user-facing article categories are for. This can done by creating lists at the wikiprojects, by applying hidden categories with talk page wikiproject banners (e.g. {{ WikiProject Women|sports=yes|...}}), or both.