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Let's expand Wikipedia's coverage of psychological scientists from underrepresented groups

sue_frantz
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Physicist Jessica Wade noticed a lack of Wikipedia pages for underrepresented scientists. In 2018, she began writing one Wikipedia page a day devoted to a woman scientist who did not have a Wikipedia page. Wade has created nearly 1,800 pages (including this one for Kim Cobb, a climate scientist) (Silva, 2022).

The Association for Psychological Science (APS) has encouraged psychological scientists and their students to write or edit Wikipedia pages on psychological concepts since 2011 when APS president Mahzarin R. Banaji issued the challenge (Bender, 2012). While it is still important to make sure the psychological knowledge on Wikipedia is solid, Jessica Wade has a point. The people matter, too. Part of it is recognizing people for their work, but mostly it’s about our students (and the general public) seeing the diversity of the psychological community.

The Women in Red WikiProject is devoted to turning Wikipedia’s red links for women into blue ones. The red links are for content that should have a wiki page but don’t. At least not yet. The project editors note that as of November 2022 “of 1,913,852 biographies [on Wikipedia], only 371,041 are about women” (Wikipedia, 2022). For those of you reaching for your calculators, that is almost 20%. The Women Scientists WikiProject has a similar goal specifically for scientists. If anyone is interested in creating a WikiProject specifically for psychologists/psychological scientists/cognitive scientists/behavioral scientists who are from underrepresented groups, this Wikipedia page explains how to go about it. However, one may certainly create pages without participating in a WikiProject.

If you’d like to put your students to work creating biographies, there is no shortage of candidates. Some of APA’s presidents have Wikipedia pages, but many do not, such as Frank Worrell (2022), Jennifer F. Kelly (2021), Sandra L. Shullman (2020), Rosie Phillips Davis (2019), and Jessica Henderson Daniel (2018). Similarly, some of the APS presidents do not have Wikipedia pages, such as Barbara Tverksy (2018-2019). While presidents of these organizations may be a fine starting place, APA and APS award winners—particularly the lifetime achievement recipients—are worth a look. Perhaps there are rock stars at your institution or in your field who are deserving of a Wikipedia page.

If you would like to build a Wikipedia biography assignment into one or more of your courses, I encourage you to start with APS’s Wikipedia Initiative page. While the focus here is on classroom assignments, I imagine that if your psychology club or honor society wanted to build pages, that would work, too!

References

Bender, E. (2012). Papers with a purpose: The APS Wikipedia Initiative’s first year. APS Observer, 25. https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/papers-with-a-purpose

Silva, C. (2022, November 15). Meet the person who added 1,767 underrepresented scientists to Wikipedia. Mashable. https://mashable.com/article/small-talk-jessica-wade

Wikipedia. (2022). Wikipedia:WikiProject Women in Red. In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:WikiProject_Women_in_Red&oldid=1124298018

About the Author
Sue Frantz has taught psychology in community colleges since 1992, and has been at Highline College in the Seattle area since 2001. She has served on several APA boards and committees, and was proud to serve the members of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology as their 2018 president. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the APA award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at a Two-Year College or Campus. She received in 2016 the highest award for the teaching of psychology--the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award . She presents nationally and internationally on the topics of educational technology and the pedagogy of psychology. She is co-author with Doug Bernstein and Steve Chew of Teaching Psychology: A Step-by-Step Guide, 3rd ed.