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Sun Oct 14, 2018, 04:46 PM

Why Nobel winner Donna Strickland didn't have a Wikipedia page

On Oct. 2, when Donna Strickland won a Nobel Prize in physics — the committee recognized her work on a method of generating laser beams with ultrashort pulses — she was only the third woman in history to do so. That day, she finally got a Wikipedia page of her own.

The long delay was not for lack of trying. Last May, an editor had rejected a submitted entry on Strickland, saying the subject did not meet Wikipedia’s notability requirement. Strickland’s biography went up shortly after her award was announced. If you click on the “history” tab to view the page’s edits, you can replay the process of a woman scientist finally gaining widespread recognition, in real time.

As a biology professor who edits Wikipedia, Strickland’s story did not surprise me: According to the Wikimedia Foundation, as of 2016, only 17 percent of the reference project’s biographies were about women. What’s more, I have seen the underlying dynamics of this gender gap play out in my undergraduate courses. In 2014, I developed assignments requiring students to edit Wikipedia. One had them choose a woman scientist or an ecologist of any gender, and either start a Wikipedia page or add to their biography. This was partly to lure students into learning some HTML-style coding, but also so they would hone other important, transferrable skills. As a new Wikipedia editor, you learn to follow style rules and policies; you learn how to put work into the public domain while still guarding your intellectual property and how to create fact-checked Open Access Internet resources. I hope, too, this work instills a public-spirited enthusiasm for sharing knowledge.

But what hinders students far more than the technical side is Wikipedia’s editing culture. Many of their contributions got reversed almost immediately, in what is known as a “drive-by deletion.” It is true some of the articles may have been dismissed due to my students’ inexperience with the community norms about what makes an entry seem substantial and valid. They may have underestimated how much the encyclopedia rests on the connectivity of the Internet: Wikipedia encourages links to other Wikipedia articles and independent third sources like books and newspapers to bolster credibility.

Even with my relative familiarity with the site’s standards, though, I ran into obstacles as well. I made an entry for Kathy Martin, current president of the American Ornithological Society and a global authority on arctic and alpine grouse. Almost immediately after her page went live, a flag appeared over the top page: “Is this person notable enough?”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/10/08/why-nobel-winner-donna-strickland-didnt-have-wikipedia-page/

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Reply Why Nobel winner Donna Strickland didn't have a Wikipedia page (Original post)
Mosby Oct 2018 OP
smirkymonkey Oct 2018 #1
PoliticAverse Oct 2018 #2

Response to Mosby (Original post)

Sun Oct 14, 2018, 04:58 PM

1. K&R

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Response to Mosby (Original post)

Sun Oct 14, 2018, 05:00 PM

2. I was curious why a Nobel prize winner was only an "associate" professor.

So I did some research and found this article: http://fortune.com/2018/10/02/donna-strickland-nobel-prize-professor/
containing:
Academic-minded wags tweeted out reasons why the University of Waterloo had yet to name Strickland—one of only three women recipients of the Nobel Prize for Physics and the first woman to win since 1963—a full professor. One joked that the school’s promotions and tenure committee thought she “didn’t do enough university service.” Another guessed that the scientist had been dinged for canceling “class just to go to some awards show abroad.” A third suggested that she “needed at least one more” publication—preferably, as another tweeter offered, in a top-five journal.

Strickland herself seemed to quell any insinuation of sexism in a BBC interview today, saying that she’d “always been treated like an equal [to male scientists] in her career.” When when asked directly why someone with her achievements and esteemed reputation wasn’t holding a full professorship, she answered simply, “I never applied.”

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