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Celebrating Ada Lovelace Day at the IoP

Posted on 15/10/2013

Dr Emma Scotter, Rhianna Goozee and Emma Palmer

To mark Ada Lovelace Day 2013, an international celebration of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), Rhianna Goozee, Editor of the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) student magazine The Looking Glass, Emma Palmer, former chair of the IoP Student Forum, and researcher Dr Emma Scotter attended the Royal Society & Medical Research Council (MRC) Women in Science Wikipedia edit-a-thon on Friday 11th October 2013.

 Rhianna Goozee reports from the event:

“Women are relatively scarce creatures at the Royal Society. The first women to be elected to the Fellowship were Marjory Stephenson FRS and Kathleen Lonsdale FRS in 1945. Still today, women number only about 6% of the Fellows of the Royal Society.

“However, things are beginning to change, if only slowly, and the edit-a-thon is just one event amongst many that aims to celebrate and champion women in science. I was there as a volunteer editor and my role for the day was to edit or create Wikipedia pages for notable women in STEM fields.

“There was a quiet buzz of excitement and activity in the room, as 19 women, including Professor Uta Frith, and one man, learnt the basics of editing on Wikipedia and set about improving the online encyclopaedia’s representation of female scientists. I had arrived at lunchtime with a list of female professors, including the IoP’s own Professors Francesca Happé, Philippa Garety and Rona Moss-Morris, and I planned to create a page for each. It soon became apparent that there is more to editing Wikipedia than meets the eye but by the end of the afternoon one of my articles went live: Professor Francesca Happé, Director of the MRC Department of Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) at the IoP at King’s.

”However, there was more to the experience than tallying up the number of articles that were written. Being in a room full of women all working towards the same goal – greater recognition of the contribution of women in STEM subjects – was a worthwhile and exciting experience in itself. Plus, as the trainers from Wikimedia told us, the idea was that we would go away after the event and continue to edit and contribute to Wikipedia.

“The evening ended with a reception and panel discussion led by Professor Frith and Professor Tom Welton (from Imperial College’s Chemistry Department, which holds a Gold Athena SWAN award). The discussion was lively and it was clear from the questions asked that many women were uneasy about their position in STEM fields as a female researcher. The men in the audience on the other hand were concerned about the best course to take in creating more equitable conditions for men and women alike.

“The way women are perceived and represented in the fields of science and technology is, I hope, slowly beginning to change and events such as the edit-a-thon are important in bringing together people who would like to help this process and perhaps speed it along a little. By the end of the evening, it felt as though more questions had been raised than answered but, nonetheless, there was a positive feeling in the room, which I think stemmed from the fact that at least these questions are finally being asked.“

For further information about the Women in Science initiatives at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s, please see our webpages: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/iop/about/Women-in-Science/index.aspx

Emma Palmer edited a page for Janet Treasure OBE, Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychological Medicine during the edit-a-thon and also spoke about her experience when interviewed by BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour. The interview will be available on iPlayer from October 16.

For more information, please contact Seil Collins, Press Officer, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. Email:  seil.collins@kcl.ac.uk or tel: (+44) 0207 848 5377

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