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Wikipedia edit-a-thon to redress gender bias in science

Posting in Science

The U.K.’s national academy of science, in partnership with Wikimedia U.K., hosted an edit-a-thon last week to improve Wikipedia articles about women in science.

Armed with laptops in the Royal Society library, volunteers spent three and a half hours raising the profile of female scientists who have been largely overlooked.

“It’s shameful that when you ask people, including scientists, to name well-known female scientists and engineers they can barely get past Marie Curie,” says event leader Uta Frith of University College London. “I think this is very much because they are not in our consciousness or they have not been given high enough profile for their work.”

Wikipedia is the 6th most visited website in the world, attracting around 480 million unique visitors a month. Yet, women comprise fewer than 15 percent of the site’s editors.

The 19 London attendees -- along with editors worldwide -- worked on a wish list of nearly 200 women. Some of the resulting 40 entries, edits and stub additions include:

  • Engineer and mathematician Hertha Marks Ayrton, who registered 26 patents.
  • Human computer Mary Edwards, who calculated the position of the sun, moon and planets at different times of day for annual nautical almanacs.

The event was held in conjunction with Ada Lovelace Day (pictured) – a celebration of women in science, technology, engineering and math, named after a 19th century computer programmer. #WomenSciWP

[Via Nature News, Royal Society release]

Image: Wikipedia

— By on October 22, 2012, 4:39 AM PST

Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure