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Vol. LXVII, No. 9
April 24, 2015
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Women Scientists Added to Online Reference
NIH Marks Women’s History Month with All-Day Wikipedia Edit

On the front page...

NIMHD’s Cherie Duvall Jones participates in a wiki edit at NIH.

NIMHD’s Cherie Duvall Jones participates in a wiki edit at NIH.

NIH celebrated Women’s History Month by adding women scientists to the pages of Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia that has become the go-to reference for millions of Internet users. A real-time all-day edit-a-thon in Wilson Hall on Mar. 13 featured a corps of expert wiki editors—called “Wikipedians”—from the Washington, D.C., area and New York City who offered technical training, tips and tricks.

“Today, we are joining a federal effort to improve knowledge about women in science through creation and enhancement of information on Wikipedia that will lead to inspiring young people, encouraging scientists and providing information for educators that there have been more female contributors to science since Marie Curie—and some of them are still active and some of those have even won the Nobel Prize,” said event organizer Dr. Marin Allen, deputy director of NIH’s Office of Communications and Public Liaison, in opening remarks. OCPL teamed up with the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and the National Library of Medicine’s National Center for Biotechnology Information to host the event.

Continued...

“What better way to celebrate and commemorate the achievements of women than by utilizing NIH’s holdings of information, photos and histories to share the stories of influential women scientists and researchers?” said organizer Sarah Williams of EDI.

The English language Wikipedia contains more than 4.7 million content pages, with more than 24 million registered users. According to its web site, “since its creation in 2001, Wikipedia has grown rapidly into one of the largest reference web sites, attracting 470 million unique visitors monthly as of February 2012.” Female participation (women editors, contributors, writers and, by extension, representation of women) in Wikipedia, however, is low. A 2011 survey by the organization found that men comprise as much as 84 to 91 percent of the Wikipedian population. Top leaders of the non-profit resource acknowledge that the gender gap is likely reflected in content as well and vow to help even up the demographics by whatever creative means they can.

Wiki-a-thon organizers (from l) Sarah Williams of EDI, Dr. Marin Allen of OCPL and Hilda Bastian of NCBI gather during the all-day event to mark Women’s History Month.

Wiki-a-thon organizers (from l) Sarah Williams of EDI, Dr. Marin Allen of OCPL and Hilda Bastian of NCBI gather during the all-day event to mark Women’s History Month.

“Increasing the visibility of women scientists’ achievements is a large job,” said NIH edit-a-thon organizer Hilda Bastian of NCBI. “It’s exciting that the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that publishes Wikipedia, among other projects, collaborates with public institutions like NIH to advance initiatives like this. This is our third edit-a-thon with partners from Wikimedia and Wikipedia projects. NIH held a Wikipedia Academy in 2009 to tackle health information and NCBI partnered with Wiki-Project Medicine for health information edit-a-thons and webinars in 2013.”

The idea to improve the world’s awareness and knowledge of contributions by women—and women scientists—is not new either. Private and public groups have recognized the dearth of information about certain topics and groups.

Wikipedian-in-residence at Consumer Reports Lane Rasberry visits from NYC to offer tips
Wikipedian-in-residence at Consumer Reports Lane Rasberry (above) visits from NYC to offer tips. Below, Wikimedia D.C. president James Hare thanks NIH for helping to enhance the online resource.
Wikimedia D.C. president James Hare thanks NIH for helping to enhance the online resource.

For Women’s History Month 2012, the Smithsonian Institution sponsored “She Blinded Me with Science,” a collaboration with archivists to add content about women from its organization to Wikipedia. NIH’s effort this year followed similar events at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, which hosted its second annual “Art+Feminism” Wikipedia edit session on International Women’s Day to add female artist profiles; the White House held a STEM-themed edit-a-thon in February to celebrate African-American heroes in science, tech, engineering and math.

All of these efforts were endorsed by Wikimedia, which founded the GLAM-Wiki initiative in 2010 to encourage galleries, libraries, archives and museums worldwide to share their information, holdings and exhibits to help improve Wikipedia’s content.

At the NIH event, Wikimedia D.C. president James Hare thanked both rookie and veteran NIH Wikipedians for their help and enthusiasm in enhancing the online encyclopedia. Wikipedian-in-residence at Consumer Reports Lane Rasberry, visiting from NYC, gave “Wiki 101,” a 10-minute primer for newbie editors as well as a brief refresher for the vets. Hare and Rasberry, joined by several other expert Wikipedians, were on hand the whole day in Wilson Hall to answer questions and offer technical assistance.

By the end of the edit-a-thon, which organizers hope will become an annual event, the NIH group had added or improved the profiles of 36 scientists; 50 photos with captions were uploaded, as well. See the photos at http://bit.ly/1HniJMb. More content additions and improvements are already under way. In addition, a project page has been organized to manage and chart progress of ongoing enhancements. Visit http://bit.ly/18cFog7.

 


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