Writing Women Back Into Science: Emily Temple-Wood

Emily Temple-Wood has written approximately one Wikipedia article every ten days since she was 12 years old, bringing her total to around 330 articles. The 21 year-old undergraduate, studying molecular biology at Loyola University of Chicago, has made it her mission to take on Wikipedia’s “gender gap.”

Despite her demanding academic commitments, Temple-wood co-founded WikiProject Women in 2012, to ensure that women in science were adequately represented on Wikipedia. The project has been a major success and according to a Wikimedia blog post, the initiave helped more than 370 women scientists appear on Wikipedia’s front-page “Did you know section?” section.

Siko Bouterse, a former Wikimedia Foundation staff member, said Temple-Wood’s impact on the online encyclopedia’s gender bias across their science domain.

“She’s created hundreds of articles about women scientists, including articles that address multiple gaps in Wikipedia — it’s really important that she’s not just writing about white women scientists, she’s also working to address underrepresentation of women of color in Wikipedia and looking at other points of intersectionality as well. And perhaps most importantly, because we’re much stronger collectively than alone, Emily has taught and inspired others to do the same,” said Bouterse on the blog.

The inspiration for Temple-Wood came from the online harassment she faced as a Wikipedia contributor. Because of her gender, Temple-Wood said she’s been subject to a constant bombardment of harassment. Online trolls constantly contact her  soliciting dates and “sexual favors.” They condescendingly discuss her body, and insult her with profanities.

Rather than ignoring the sexism, Temple-Wood turned the negativity into an opportunity by vowing to write one Wiki bio on a female scientist for every harassing email she receives.

Now, in light of recent praise for her commitment, Temple-Wood thanks her harrassers “for helping to fight against systemic bias on Wikipedia.” Due to their despicable emails, she already has a backlog of articles to work on.

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