Wikipedia Warrior Champions Women In Science

Jess Wade, a postdoctoral researcher in the field of plastic electronics at Imperial College London’s Blackett Laboratory, is on a one-woman mission to promote women in science. Her platform: Wikipedia. And in the last year she’s written about 270 entries.

According to a recent Guardian article, Wade’s first subject was Professor Kim Cobb, a U.S. climate scientist. “She’s super interesting, she does really cool research on corals and she goes diving to collect samples,” she says. Soon after, Wade went to a talk by Susan Goldberg, editor of National Geographic (the first woman to hold this post), who noticed she too lacked a Wikipedia entry. “I thought ‘That’s outrageous’, so I did her page,” she says.

Part of the spark that ignited Wade was the European commission’s bungled attempt to give science a sexy, feminine makeover in its Science: it’s a girl thing! video, in which three young women prance around on a catwalk while decoding the chemical composition of lipsticks and nail varnish.

That would’ve sparked me, too. I’ve long had a love-hate relationship with highlighting women in business/science/manufacturing (see: “Program Aims To Honor Women In Manufacturing”). But I know that there is a very big deficit of women in STEM so if there’s to be change it has to be brought on by horn blowing (see: “Influential Women In Manufacturing Earn Recognition” and visit our page Women In The Chemical Industry).

Wade’s crusade is the same. Her goal: “I guess it’s to make science a better place for everyone working in it, which happens when we recognize the contributions of these awesome women,” she says. “Then the girls who do come – because they will! – will come to a much more empowering environment.”


Traci-bio-photo.jpgTraci Purdum is Chemical Processing’s Senior Digital Editor. She sometimes sings Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” at karaoke night. You can email her at tpurdum@putman.net.