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An academic has written 270 Wikipedia pages for women scientists in a year

Jess Wade is relentlessly trying to get more women into science

A recent study found that, if things continue at their current speed, it would take 258 years to close the gender gap in physics. According to Women in Science and Engineering, women make up only 12.8 per cent of STEM careers, with just 9 per cent in engineering. And as Zing Tsjeng’s recent book series Forgotten Women shows, women in science fields like mathematician Emmy Noehter and maverick nurse Margaret Sanger have been largely unacknowledged by history. 

Jess Wade, a postdoctoral researcher in plastic electronics at Imperial College London, set out to recognise the achievements of women in science, writing around 270 Wikipedia entries in the last year on individuals. 

In an interview with the Guardian, she explained how documenting women’s work in scientific fields online could help attract more girls into STEM careers. “I kind of realised we can only really change things from the inside,” she told the Guardian. “Wikipedia is a really great way to engage people in this mission because the more you read about these sensational women, the more you get so motivated and inspired by their personal stories.” 

Wade related that she wanted to take a different approach to other campaigns to get women into science, like the ‘9 per cent is not enough’ campaign or the cringe and sexist ‘Science: it’s a girl thing’ video by the European Commission. So far, there isn’t any tangible evidence that these kind of campaigns have worked. 

The academic first worked on a Wiki page for Professor Kim Cobb, an American climate scientist, and then National Geographic editor Susan Goldberg, as well as her colleague and first female professor of maths at Imperial Emma McCoy. 

In more direct action, Wade has bought and distributed around 70 copies of Angela Saini’s Inferior, a 2017 book that looks at sex and gender differences and stereotypes from a scientific perspective. She also continuously works at nominating women for notable prizes and awards.

h/t Guardian