NewsThis researcher makes women in science visible with Wikipedia...

This researcher makes women in science visible with Wikipedia biographies

Created: 10/25/2022 5:02 am

Women are less often on Wikipedia? That has to change, believes physicist Jess Wade and declares war on the gender gap with over 1750 Wikipedia biographies.

Women are still underrepresented in science. The same applies in management positions in companies or in politics – especially at the local level. In an interview, trans* woman Caroline Farberger says that “men don’t know what a privilege they have” – after all, they are always among themselves on boards, while women have to adapt in order to belong. Women also apply less frequently to quiz shows – the “gender confidence gap” provides an explanation. Women are more critical when it comes to their own knowledge.

Women in Science: Many don’t even appear on Wikipedia

If you look at the proportion of female professors at the fifty largest state universities in Germany, as ZEIT Magazin did in 2018, the national average is just 23 percent. There are still fewer women in research than men. It’s all the worse that the ones that exist don’t even appear on Wikipedia, says Jess Wade from Great Britain.

Wade is a physicist who accidentally discovered five years ago that Kim Cobb, an American climatologist she knew very well, did not have a Wikipedia page. “I met her at a science event and was very impressed,” she tells the Washington Post . The 33-year-old worried that she didn’t have an entry in the largest online encyclopedia in the world. After all, as a scientist she has achieved a lot and Wikipedia is read by two billion people a month.

Wade wrote more than 1750 Wikipedia pages for women in five years

According to the Washington Post, Jess Wade decided to take matters into his own hands and since 2017 has written more than 1,750 Wikipedia pages for female scientists and engineers – especially women from minorities who are even more underrepresented. That’s why we’re also showing 11 historical photos of Black women who made history. According to WikiProject Women in Red, currently only 19 percent of English-language Wikipedia biographies are about women. Wade sees this critically, because when people know who you are, you have more options as a scientist.

Wade himself is a research associate at Imperial College London and works with Raman spectroscopy, a technique used in chemistry to identify molecules, among other things. Her own Wikipedia page shows that she has won a number of awards, including the Julia Higgins Award.

According to the 33-year-old researcher, the way her own Wikipedia page looks, all women in science deserve it. With her commitment, she also wants to achieve that more women work in MINT professions in general. To do this, however, girls must have the confidence to do these jobs and not be repeatedly confronted with gender stereotypes. Spain therefore bans advertising that serves gender stereotypes.

Biographies about women on Wikipedia – share increased from 15 to 19 percent

Jess Wade often sits at her desk for several hours, searching online for inspiring, lesser-known women scientists to write a Wikipedia page about. She tells the Washington Post that she often has 20 Internet tabs open at once, scouring library archives and institutional websites. After all, she needs a few hours for a biography. It is also tedious, but at the same time uniquely fulfilling – and instructive.

Wade’s work, and that of other women who write Wikipedia articles (e.g., Emily Temple-Wood), is bearing fruit: Wikipedia tells the Washington Post in an email that the number of biographies about women is growing. “In the last three years, the proportion of biographies on English Wikipedia that deal with women has increased from 15 to 19 percent. This may seem like a small change, but it represents more than 75,000 new biographies about women,” said Anusha Alikhan, Vice President of Communications at the Wikimedia Foundation.

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