Rejoice Women in Science During Ada Lovelace Day with Wikipedia ‘Edit-a-Thons’

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Today marks the Ada Lovelace Day, a tribute to the British Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, known as Ada Lovelace, and recognized for being the first person to create an algorithm intended to be processed by a machine, that is, the first computer programmer in history.

The celebration aims to highlight women who have contributed to the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Initiated five years ago, the Ada Lovelace Day is about sharing stories and raising the achievements of women in STEM.

Are you interested in doing something special for Ada Lovelace day? How about spending some time editing Wikipedia? There’s an official edit-a-thon in honor of the holiday, aimed at improving and increasing Wikipedia’s coverage of women in the sciences.

Edit-a-thon

As part of Ada Lovelace Day, the science journalist Maia American Weinstock, Director of BrainPOP, and Anne Fausto-Sterling organized for the fourth year in a row a massive edit-a-thon (set of English words ‘marathon edition’) that invites all world to create and edit Wikipedia articles about women who have contributed to the STEM disciplines.

The edit-a-thon is a concept that was set by the Wikipedia community. It is an event where people come together for one day to create, refine or strengthen Wikipedia articles.

Despite the communal nature of the great collaborative encyclopedia, less than 15% of Wikipedia editors are women, so Weinstock decided to organize these edit-a-thon to help reduce the gap in gender parity regarding contributions of scientists and engineers in the collaborative encyclopedia.

“At one point I was taken out to lunch by a senior history professor. I think he meant well and was trying to be encouraging but the way he encouraged me was to say, ‘It’s really exciting that they’ve hired a woman scientist but this is the first time it’s been possible because before your generation there were none,’” Fausto-Sterling recalls when she was first hired as a professor of Biology at Brown.

On 15 October, the Edit-a-Thon will begin with an hour of “lecture” on the fundamentals of Wikipedia, to allow everyone (the public) to become familiar with the virtual encyclopedia publishing system. Then you begin a choral work added in an attempt to create more possible entries related to personality women who have distinguished themselves in science. Among them, there will be Homchair Ingeborg, who in 2013 invented a revolutionary cochlear implant that can restore hearing to a large number of people suffering from deafness.

Join the program!

Today, Brown students have been invited to gather in order to expand upon and create Wikipedia entries. Brown University is hosting a 5.5-hour long “”edit-a-thon,” inviting people to edit Wikipedia articles, expanding the site’s representation of women who made contributions to STEM. The event has its own Wikipedia page that has a long and respectable list of articles that need to be written.

Students, curators, researchers, bloggers and other enthusiasts are welcome to join in this edit-a-thon. Experience editing Wikipedia is not required. The day will start with a crash course in editing Wikipedia and also during the edit-a-thon experienced Wikipedians would be present to guide volunteers.

The University California at San Francisco’s medical school offers course credit for improving the quality of health information via Wikipedia editing. The editing is also part of the curriculum of the Modern Culture and Media class “Dialogues on Feminism and Technology,” taught by visiting lecturer Megan Fernandes.

This will be a safe place for people to learn to write Wikipedia articles, receive feedback, make their articles more ‘bullet proof,’ use citation tools and information boxes, and effectively utilize images.

“What we lose by not having a full panoply of information about women scientists is that we continue to perpetuate this idea that this historian had that women haven’t done science at the same level as men or are somehow deficient in this area,” said Fausto-Sterling.

Wikipedia has more than 4.3 million articles in English but as per a study conducted by the Wikimedia Foundation, only about 13 percent of women make up its contributor base. The Edit-a-Thon will help draw attention to women who shy away from these type of things and gets to the root of the problem.  It will also encourage women to become involved in technology and sciences.