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🎧 Re-writing Diversity: Editing Wikipedia and Opening Science

An ‘Edit-a-thon’ event, hosted among others by the MDC, celebrated International Women’s Day by improving diversity on Wikipedia pages. The MDC-produced ORION Open Science podcast was there to investigate what the challenges to diversity in science are and how the Open Science movement can help.

Professor Donna Strickland is a renowned physicist and researcher. However, she was not deemed important enough to have a Wikipedia entry dedicated to her until an hour and half after she had been awarded the Nobel Prize. In fact, just 16% of Wikipedia’s volunteer editors are female and only 17% of entries dedicated to notable people are for women. In preparation for International Women’s Day 2019, a joint event hosted by the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin and Leibniz Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP) seeked to change that.

On Thursday 7th March there was a Wikipedia ‘Edit-a-thon’ to increase visibility of women scientists and other underrepresented groups in the life sciences. The event had some prestigious support in the form of the keynote speaker Dr Jess Wade, a postdoctoral physicist, who was recognized as one of Nature’s ‘Ten People who Mattered’ in 2018, predominantly for her science communication work and her efforts to boost the profiles of scientist from under-represented groups. One action Wade took was to write 270 Wikipedia articles on female scientists in one year, she did this “because the more you read about these sensational women, the more you get so motivated and inspired by their personal stories.” Her goal is to increase the number of girls and women choosing to enter and stay in STEM careers.

The event allowed participants to add, expand, or edit entries on female and/or ethnic minority scientists in order to improve public awareness of their work and increase the expand the range of people who are represented on Wikipedia. For example, there is now a Wikipedia article on Ana Pombo. The event provided a practical and low-threshold opportunity to make a positive impact on diversity in science.

In an effort, to discover what challenges there are in raising the visibility of the work and profiles of female and ethnic minority scientists, the ORION Open Science Podcast attended the event and interviewed organisers and attendees about how they feel Open Science relates to issues of diversity. The resulting podcast episode was released on International Women’s Day, March 8th.

The podcast is made at the MDC and is produced and presented by Luiza Bengtsson and Emma Harris and Zoe Ingram.

Further information

Berlin Diversithon

ORION Project