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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Forgotten women of science win recognition online


By late afternoon scores of red women on Sam Haskell's list had turned blue: female scientists, some dead and some living, many immensely distinguished, some geniuses, but whose names have almost been forgotten even by their peers.

Up the grand marble staircase of the Royal Society in London, under the imposing gold and white library ceiling, women and a handful of men had gathered, joined by many more online across the world, to correct a gross injustice.

The list gradually changing colour on Haskell's screen represented hundreds of women scientists who have either never had a Wikipedia entry, or whose lives and work are dismissed in a stub a few lines long.

The names turning blue represented the success of a live edit-a-thon jointly organised by the Royal Society, where Haskell is digital communications officer, and Wikimedia UK – together with the promoters of Ada Lovelace Day, held every year in honour of the 19th-century mathematician, daughter of the poet Lord Byron, who became a pioneer of computing theory.

The event in London was booked out for weeks, but many more joined online, some starting work days ago.

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