‘Women in Physiology’ Wikipedia Edit-a-thon

In October, The University of Manchester hosted a Wikipedia edit-a-thon for Ada Lovelace Day. This public event addressed the inadequate representation of women on Wikipedia, focussing on improving the number and quality of women Physiologists’ biographies. Talks by esteemed Physiologists, Dame Professor Nancy Rothwell and Professor Susan Wray and Wiki-editors Drs Jess Wade B.E.M. and Duncan Hull, were followed by training and hands-on editing.

Wikipedia is a free world-wide resource, often the first ‘go-to’ source for information, yet just 18% of biographies are about women. Many recent articles on women have been achieved through the tireless work of volunteers such as Dr Jess Wade B.E.M., a Physicist committed to publishing one Wikipedia entry per day since 2016. In 2019 Jess was awarded the British Empire Medal in recognition of her contributions to gender diversity in science.

The lack of entries on Wikipedia offers the narrative that ‘women don’t do [good] science’, when in reality their achievements are downplayed, ignored or wrongly attributed to someone else. There is still gender inequality in STEM, highlighting those unrecognised women can send a powerful message and achieve great impact.

Attendees learned the basics of editing and had hands-on experience of creating/editing articles with experienced Wikipedia Editors. The day focused specifically on notable women researchers in physiology, many of whom still do not have a Wikipedia biography despite their significant contributions to the discipline. Some multilingual attendees produced articles in languages other than English.