By Katie Crampton, Wikimedia UK Communications & Governance Assistant
We kicked off February in collaboration with University of York with another editathon to help close the gender gap on Wikipedia. Focused on Yorkshire women in STEM, the editathon aimed to highlight the diverse set of role models women have in the field. And with women’s uptake in careers in STEM at a dismal 22% in the UK, the importance of championing these voices is more important than ever.
With businesses in STEM building much of the world we interact with on a daily basis, the lack of women represented in these industries has long been a concern for those aiming to change its landscape. Without a solid foundation of biographies for women to take inspiration from, Wikipedia is one of the many areas that has fallen short in this regard, with only 18% of its biographies on women. Wikimedia UK and the global movement have been tackling the issue for a number of years, and we were delighted to partner with the University of York for this latest event.
The editathon aimed to expand digital editing skills through creating and editing Wikipedia pages. The first step was drawing together a list of entries to be added to or created, so a University wide call went out for names of notable Yorkshire Women in STEM. These included the likes of amateur field botanist Catherine Muriel ‘Kit’ Rob, whose story was included by the Borthwick Institute for Archives in a long list of other lost voices vital in a time when women had only just started entering STEM.
Dr Helen Niblock, Research Development Manager in Physical Science at the University of York, thanked Namrata Ganneri “for organising the editathon, it really brought people together for positive change. Thanks to Nigel [Wikimedia Trainer] for talking us through Wikipedia editing, it’s not as scary or complicated as I thought! I’ve now got the knowledge and confidence to go away and add more women scientists to Wikipedia.”
Some of the articles that were improved included Hilary Lappin Scott’s page, which now comprehensively outlines Scott’s career in microbiology with her “field of research in microbial biofilms. In 2009 Hilary was elected as the second female President of the Society for General Microbiology (SGM) in 70 years and served in this role until 2012. In September 2019 she was elected as President of the Federation of European Microbiological Societies (FEMS), being the first President from the UK.”
Other articles improved included Edith Pechey’s page, and the York physicist Professor Sarah Thomposon, with some work started on Professor Jane Hill’s page. With participants expressing interest in creating pages that there wasn’t time for in the event, like one for Catherine Muriel Kit Rob, a famous Yorkshire amateur botanists, we hope the skills built in the editathon will go on to have a lasting impact.