In a quest to give female scientists the recognition they deserve, Jess Wade, a postdoctoral researcher in the field of plastic electronics at Imperial College London’s Blackett Laboratory, is writing Wikipedia entries about each of them.
So far, she has written about 270.
In an article in The Guardian, she said, "I had a target for doing one a day, but sometimes I get too excited and do three."
Why? She does not think science attracts enough women. She wants young girls at least to be able to find women who work in science on Wikipedia.
She said, “I kind of realised we can only really change things from the inside. Wikipedia is a really great way to engage people in this mission because the more you read about these sensational women, the more you get so motivated and inspired by their personal stories.”
Wade has her own story, too. As a PhD student, she learned how hard it was to be a woman in a predominantly male field. She said, " Being isolated is hard – this goes for all underrepresented groups. Then there are all those challenges during your PhD that amplify that isolation. If you don’t have anyone you can really get on with around you it’s so, so hard.”
She is critical, too, of the steps the UK has taken to encourage girls to go into science. She said, "There’s so much energy, enthusiasm and money going into all these initiatives to get girls into science. Absolutely none of them [are] evidence-based and none of them work. It’s so unscientific, that’s what really surprises me.”
Wade, along with fellow scientist Claire Murray, also recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to get a copy of a book which debunks accepted scientific 'facts' into all state schools in the UK. The book, Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong and the New Science That's Rewriting the Story by Angela Saini, has been described by Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe as one of his favourite books.
How did she learn what works best? She talked to teachers and parents, and young girls.
Her goal? "I guess it’s to make science a better place for everyone working in it, which happens when we recognise the contributions of these awesome women. Then the girls who do come – because they will! – will come to a much more empowering environment.”
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