How to Help Increase Women's Representation in STEM

By Stephanie Stevens

Social distancing doesn't mean that life has to grind to a halt. There are ways to keep ourselves entertained and sane while also doing some good in the world. We're sharing the advice of UC San Diego Extension Science Communication program instructor Heather Buschman, who suggests that we all help raise the profile of women in STEM by updating existing Wikipedia entries or creating new pages about them. 

Why is this so important? When you don't see yourself reflected, you feel invisible and your contributions are at risk of not being recognized as your own. At this time, only 18.2 percent of English Wikipedia biographies feature women, and only nine percent of the contributing editors are women worldwide (despite half of the site's visitors being women). Providing access to information about women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) not only educates but helps to inspire a whole new generation to enter into STEM fields.

We love this idea, so we're sharing everything you'll need to get started on developing pages.

How to Get Started

  1. Create a Wikipedia account and a User page. You can edit pages without having an account, but you won't have access to some features.
  2. Using the Visual Editor, which is a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) tool, write a quick biography about yourself on your user page.
  3. Practice inserting a link in your bio.
  4. Practice inserting a citation on your user page. Citing sources on Wikipedia is important because it validates the information that you're sharing.
  5. Summarize changes and publish. If you're not ready to publish, you can also save what you've written and come back to edit it later.

Time to Write
  1. Get familiar with the sections of a Wikipedia page.
  2. Choose a person from the 500 Women Scientists list. The list contains both articles that need to be edited as well as pages that need to be created.

Please note: Don't add or edit Wikipedia pages about yourself, family, friends, clients, employers, competitors, or other relationships. It's a conflict of interest. If you have something that you want to write or edit about someone close to you, one of the benefits of having an account is that it allows you to submit suggestions for edits through the Talk or Discussion pages.

  1. If you're short on time or feeling overwhelmed by the idea of writing an entire article, consider creating what's called a Wikipedia stub page. A stub page provides some basic information about the subject but isn't yet a full article. It's a great way to get started and paves the way for other contributors.
  2. Use the Visual Editor. You can add a section or update the existing sections.
  3. Make sure that there's a citations section and add at least five verifiable, neutral sources such as books, journals, newspapers and other reliable online sources. Linking to the subject's research may not be accepted as it's not a neutral source.
  4. Don't forget to save your work!

When you're ready to publish, the page/edits should appear immediately. There are rare cases (less than 1%) that are put up for review and listed as "pending changes" on very active pages. An editor or administrator will review and approve it, and it shouldn't take any longer than a few hours for it to happen.

Additional Resources

What are you doing to keep yourself occupied while we're social distancing? Tell us in the comments below.


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