Why Bryn Mawr College is writing Wikipedia entries on women in STEM - Technical.ly Philly

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Nov. 19, 2014 10:31 am

Why Bryn Mawr College is writing Wikipedia entries on women in STEM

As of last year, 90 percent of Wikipedia editors were male. Hosting a Wikipedia edit-a-thon is one way to "reassert the importance and visibility of the marginalized, affirming their place in history," wrote the project's director.

A scene from the Wikipedia edit-a-thon hosted by Bryn Mawr College.

(Photo courtesy of Bryn Mawr)

Julia Ward was a pioneering WWII cryptographer, inducted into the National Security Agency’s Cryptologic Hall of Honor in 2002.

She doesn’t have a Wikipedia page — yet.

Bryn Mawr College, under the guise of its Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education, hosted a Wikipedia edit-a-thon focused on women in STEM last month. It was the second edit-a-thon the Main Line liberal arts college has hosted. Nineteen faculty, staff and students attended the event, where they began, created or edited more than a dozen entries (including one on Ward, the cryptologist).

See what they worked on here. (Think Brownstone director Kimberly Blessing is on the list of entries to create.)

Why host events like this?

“It is important to ensure that women and minority voices have a presence on Wikipedia, simply because it is so many people’s main reference for information — otherwise we risk losing sight of them entirely,” wrote Evan McGonagill, assistant director of Greenfield, on the group’s blog.

As of last year, 90 percent of Wikipedia editors were male and that’s led to some hairy consequences, McGonagill pointed out.

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“The under-representation of women, gender non-conforming individuals, people of color, and others on Wikipedia is a site-specific manifestation of a universal problem,” McGonagill wrote:

Additionally, in adding in those who have been neglected either on the site or in general society, we take steps towards correcting those lacks in the culture itself, from beyond and before Wikipedia: we reassert the importance and visibility of the marginalized, affirming their place in history and their right to be known. Because of its open structure, Wikipedia is more than just a mirror of the status quo: it is also a potential locus of powerful change.

The next Greenfield edit-a-thon will be this spring, as part of an Art+Feminism Wikipedia event collective.

Another project that spun out of the Greenfield Center is a federal grant-funded digital archive of the “Seven Sisters,” a group of women’s colleges that includes Bryn Mawr.

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