Academic writes 270 female scientist biographies in a year

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Academic writes 270 female scientist biographies in a year

Postby CrowsNest » Fri Jul 27, 2018 6:58 pm

Academic writes 270 Wikipedia pages in a year to get female scientists noticed

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2 ... ts-noticed

I so want to support the efforts of the gender gap closers, but this article is kind of ridiculous.

It's about this editor...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Jesswade88

She starts out explaining her disquiet that none of the current very expensive efforts to get more women into science, aren't being tested for their effectiveness. Which is fine. But her only evidence that writing Wikipedia biographies for female scientists does it better, or at all, seems thin. She uses the mere fact that a scientific images uploaded to Commons got lots of views, as evidence people will read these biographies, and thus it goes, will be inspired to become one themselves. As a testable hypothesis, it needs work.

Secondly, there is what she is actually doing. Here is what the Guardian claims is her motivation......
She wants every woman who has achieved something impressive in science to get the prominence and recognition they deserve – starting with a Wikipedia entry.
.....and yet this is all the article contains in terms of specifics....
Professor Kim Cobb, a US climate scientist, was her first subject. “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. Since then she has done hundreds more.

As we weave our way through a labyrinthine intersection between Imperial’s physics and maths buildings, Wade greets a colleague before turning to me to say: “That’s Emma McCoy, the first woman to be a professor of maths here. I made her page.”
So it appears on this small sampling, she is rather more focused on feminist ideas of what is important (first women to....), rather than scientific ideas. Cobb's Wikipedia article doesn't give the impression her work is "impressive" relative to others in the field, or in science in general. Dare I say it, to the layperson, or a child, her biography makes her career choice sound quite boring, save the diving.

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/07/27/heal ... index.html

She was also written up by CNN, although it's no better at identifying her method of selecting who is and is not worthy. She seems obsessed with the sort of questionable value judgements criticised in other efforts, using "cool" etcetera. Rather worryingly, she lets it be known she takes suggestions.

Overall, it seems she is basically using Wikipedia to inspire herself, it is a hobby for her first, science second. Which, as we know, is a flaw of the model. There will be women out there who do amazing things in science, but who for whatever reason, escape her seemingly haphazard approach to selecting her subjects. Where is her own scientific method?

The CNN piece again illustrates a confused thinking over how this could possibly be an effective use of her time, when compared to say her other outreach activities.
"When you look up a scientist, the first thing that comes up is their Wikipedia page," Wade said. "But more often than not, women don't have them."

She chose Wikipedia because people these days research life's questions by Googling. Wikipedia articles, she said, are indexed quickly and appear near the top of most searches.
One sentence doesn't relate to the other as far as proving it inspires. Much like image views don't relate to biography views.

She readily admits to spending only an hour or so to write a biography, so it could well be the case she is harming women with better writeup, that would otherwise be top result if it weren't for the sort of short bland effort I read for Cobb. Is she really doing the level of research needed to summarise an entire life?

Anyway, I hope this view is all just the result of badly written news articles. But I am not confident.
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Re: Academic writes 270 female scientist biographies in a ye

Postby AndrewForson » Fri Jul 27, 2018 10:41 pm

The Guardian article follows a WMF blog post praising Dr Wade's efforts.

One interesting aspect is the uncritical acceptance of the notion that a Wikipedia article is some kind of accolade: "She wants every woman who has achieved something impressive in science to get the prominence and recognition they deserve – starting with a Wikipedia entry" We know that it's more of a burden. Still, everyone has to have a hobby, and if hers is contributing free work to a project that is designed to kill the knowledge eco-system she works in, then it's her choice. But an odd one.
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Re: Academic writes 270 female scientist biographies in a ye

Postby CrowsNest » Sat Jul 28, 2018 6:02 am

Well, it looks like she personally contacts everyone first, asking their permission. If that leads to an undue emotional burden, a sense of responsibility, maybe she will reflect on her chosen hobby. Then again, maybe not.
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Re: Academic writes 270 female scientist biographies in a ye

Postby CrowsNest » Sat Jul 28, 2018 7:52 am

Quite a storm on her article talk page, before and after all this coverage.

They've all got themselves into the usual ethical mess, where it is entirely unclear why she has a Wikipedia page (what is she notable for, not as a physicist, as even she admits), whether its manner of creation is clouded by conflict of interest, and how she could possibly not be benefiting from it existing, even if she absolutely has no intent to do so.

She has done what she can by not actively editing her article, but arguably she needs to go further. Sadly for her, there is nothing more she can do. The policies and culture of Wikipedia ensures people like her will always come across as self-promoters, whether she likes it or not. Her own replies make it clear she has no real handle on the issue. It is about appearances, not outcomes.

She may get grow not to like it. Would you be happy to lose out on a grant to someone with equal academic creentials, but who is simply more widely known because of her Wikipedia activities? Do serious institutions of learning and research dare let it be known they consider this valuable extra credit? The WMF & WEF would sure like them to, hence why they promote the shit out of her.
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Re: Academic writes 270 female scientist biographies in a ye

Postby AndrewForson » Sat Jul 28, 2018 8:21 am

Today's joke: Dr Wade's article is in Category:British women physicists which has six entries. There is a Category:British physicists with 393 entries, almost all men. There is no Category:British men physicists.

If you Google British physicists the category with the men in it is the top hit.

Didn't we see something like this before?
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Re: Academic writes 270 female scientist biographies in a ye

Postby CrowsNest » Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:06 am

Well, let's not be too quick to assume the Wikipedia editor with the most edits ever, doesn't know what he's doing.....

:lol:

It probably fails WP:CATDEFINING as well as WP:STOPGHETTOISINGWOMEN.
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