Starting a WikiProject is a pretty big undertaking, what with sorting out the templates, tagging thousands of articles, and recruiting new members. But I have to say, starting WikiProject Women Scientists with Sarah Stierch has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my 5 1/2 years contributing to Wikipedia.
I had never consciously noticed the gender gap until it was pointed out to me that, as a female Wikipedian, I was a pretty rare commodity. That was a bit of a wake-up call, and I started to think about the systemic bias inherent in Wikipedia, a reference work largely compiled by white males from the Western world.
On Ada Lovelace Day, I decided to create an article about biologist Ann Bishop as my contribution, which was quickly promoted as a Did you know… and became a Good Article a couple of weeks later. Throughout that process I realized just how many female scientist articles were missing, even among the erstwhile ranks of the Fellows of the Royal Society. I also realized that, as motivated as I was, I couldn’t write those articles alone. Thus, a WikiProject was born, and since then, it has gathered 15 members!
I want to take a second to invite you to join the project! We have a fairly active discussion page where plenty of people are happy to answer questions. The silver lining of systemic bias is that there’s a lot of work to do and a lot of ways that people can contribute. A common public opinion is that “if it’s not on Wikipedia it doesn’t exist” – so, to our readers, many important, influential scientists “don’t exist.”
Let’s change that! Go to Wikipedia:WikiProject Women scientists to join us!
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