Illinois Tech Celebrates Notable Women in STEM History with Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon

Galvin Library Hosts Event on March 26 to Increase Coverage of Underrepresented Groups Online

March 25, 2019

Illinois Tech’s Paul V. Galvin Library is celebrating Women’s History Month by offering the opportunity for students, staff, faculty, and the community to improve Wikipedia entries for notable women in STEM fields and to increase coverage of underrepresented groups. 

According to a 2011 Wikimedia Foundation Survey, roughly 91 percent of Wikipedia’s editors are men. Kimberly Shotick, assistant dean for user services and outreach at Galvin Library, cites this statistic and remarks that women have been historically underrepresented in Wikipedia articles. 

To address this disparity, Shotick says Illinois Tech’s Wikipedia edit-a-thon promotes a collaborative environment to improve entries and recognize outstanding women in the fields of STEM. “This event is a great opportunity for people who want to increase the representation of women and support their continued growth in STEM,” says Shotick.

During this event, Galvin librarians provide attendees curated resources that can be referenced to improve existing articles or create new content with accurate information and citations. 

Shotick says this hands-on event is a chance for students to become more actively engaged in the process of recognizing women in STEM. She organized last year’s event and was surprised to learn how many individuals use Wikipedia on a regular basis but have never submitted edits or contributed to articles.

“My favorite part of last year’s event was seeing everyone make contributions to the pages and being excited about the process. It’s great knowing that they can now contribute to the information cycle,” adds Shotick. She hopes that these structured events encourage others to take an active role in becoming Wikipedia editors and ensuring the accuracy of content. 

Last year, 25 participants attended the event and edited several Wikipedia articles focused on Chicago women in STEM, which included notable Illinois Tech alumna Gloria Ray Karlmark (CHEM, MATH ’65). Librarians provided handouts and articles for participants to reference when reviewing and updating Karlmark’s Wikipedia page

The Wikipedia edit-a-thon is open to the public and does not require previous experience. Shotick recommends creating a Wikipedia account prior to the event and bringing a laptop or similar device to participate in the editing session. 

The second annual Women in STEM Wikipedia Edit-a-thon will take place on Tuesday, March 26 from 4–6 p.m. in the northeast upper level of Galvin Library. 

This year the event is co-hosted by the Society of Women Engineers, which was founded in 1950 to empower women to succeed and be recognized for their life-changing contributions as engineers and leaders. 

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