Angeline Nanni is an incredible STEM scientist you’ve probably never heard of.
Despite only completing a high school education, she rose to prominence with her exceptional math skills and became one of America’s codebreakers, helping expose Soviet spies during the Cold War. Despite this, she, as well as many different women in science, doesn’t have a Wikipedia page.
Nanni’s case is a common phenomenon for highly accomplished women who have excelled in STEM for decades, despite steep barriers to entry. The prevailing narratives around these fields, from pop culture and history class to Wikipedia, depict a much narrower view: It’s often very male, and very white.
A New York Times magazine story recently profiled privacy activists who successfully pressured some of Silicon Valley’s most powerful companies, including Facebook, to better protect their users’ data. A week after the story published, Jezebel ran a headline “How A Woman Disappears From The History Books.” The piece highlights intelligence agent Mary Stone Ross, whose work went
unmentioned in the 8,500-word Times story despite her contributions.
Wikipedia is a 17-year-old, free encyclopedia published in hundreds of languages. It’s one of the most frequently visited websites in the world, attracting millions of visitors every month. But the latest statistics show that more than 80% of Wikipedia editors are men, and more than 80%of the biographies on the site are about men.
One way people are actively trying to fix the imbalances of our current and historical knowledge is through events called Wikipedia edit-a-thons. These events gather groups of like-minded people who spend a day editing Wikipedia and adding entries to make up for some of those missing stories.