Working to get the women of science on to Wikipedia

  • by National Office
  • 25 July, 2014
Working to get the women of science on to Wikipedia

Professor Nanda Dasgupta, Academy FellowAbout a year ago the Australian Academy of Science decided to do something about the paucity of women scientists on Wikipedia. Inspired by the UK Royal Society’s work to increase the presence of British women of science on Wikipedia, and somewhat appalled by our children’s inability to think of any women scientists other than Marie Curie, we created the Women of Science WIKIBOMB.

Firstly we wanted to find out which of the female Fellows of the Academy were not represented on Wikipedia, or had only very short (stub) pages. We then researched all of our award winners from the last five years, and the women members of our National Committees for Science. Collectively, these women represent some of Australia’s finest scientists and mathematicians. When we tallied them up, we found that just 13 per cent of these women had Wikipedia profiles.

So, a few months ago we started plotting for our National Science Week WIKIBOMB. We created a master list of scientist and mathematicians to assign to editors, we booked a room in the Shine Dome for 14 August, and created a registration page. We enlisted the help of some senior Australian scientists, who’ll come by the Dome on the day to chat with editors and provide a bit of inspiration, and we cajoled our librarian into digging up some info from the deepest corners of our underground archives. We’re no wiki-editors, so we begged Dr Will Grant from the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science (CPAS) to create a how-to-be-an-excellent-wiki-editor cheat sheet. We created a hashtag (#ozwomensci) and – importantly – we brainstormed food and beverages to keep our in-person editors going on the day.

A couple of weeks ago, we opened registrations, and we’ve been really heartened by the number and diversity of our WIKIBOMB editors. We’ve got women and men scientists, students, bloggers and journalists from all over Australia working busily to gather the information they’ll need to create profiles. We have editors assigned for every single one of our women Fellows, and are starting to work our way through the list of awardees and National Committee members. And we have a pleasing number of registrations from people who are keen to create profiles for a science or maths hero of their own.

Would you like to help us to celebrate our great women scientists, mathematicians and engineers, and inspire the next generation? More info and online registration.

Guest blog post by Kylie Walker, Director of Communication and Outreach at the Australian Academy of Science.

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