Women Ecologists, Wikipedia, and Ada Lovelace Day (part 1) (Updated x2!)

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, which seeks to increase the profile of women in STEM fields. Who is Ada Lovelace, you ask? She was the world’s first computer programmer. I was recently thinking about Ada Lovelace and prominent women in science after seeing a tweet from NatC, which featured this photo

(source: NatC, used with permission, featuring art available from here)

The tweet with the photo said “These awesome women are just hanging out in my office, helping me work.” That got me wondering: which pioneering women ecologists would I find inspiring as I worked in my office? Which do I think should be featured like Lovelace, Curie, Franklin, and Hopper?

I started thinking about this again last week after reading that, as part of Ada Lovelace Day, Anne Fausto-Sterling and Maia Weinstock are organizing a mass Wikipedia edit day, focusing on female scientists. Here is the Wikipedia page of suggested topics. At present, there is one ecologist on the list, Monica Turner. This got me wondering about what other women ecologists (or evolutionary biologists, to broaden things a bit) should have a Wikipedia page. (Actually, this list of ecologists with Wikipedia pages makes me think we could use more ecologist entries on Wikipedia, overall.)

Why Wikipedia? As Alex Bond pointed out in this article (aimed at ornithologists, but relevant to ecologists in general), “The first search of a topic for many, scholars and public alike, is Wikipedia … As such, Wikipedia presents an excellent opportunity to communicate science to a general public”. The idea that we need more prominent role models is also made by Langenheim in her excellent review of pioneering women in ecology. In that, she says, “The lack of role models is still considered by some as an important impediment in the professional advancement of women scientists. However, Brattstrom (18, p, 143) recently suggested ‘There are role models out there, we just need to talk more about them! . . . And we need to start it now!’”

With all this in mind, I turned to twitter to ask for suggestions of prominent and/or important women in ecology and evolutionary biology. I was completely overwhelmed (in a good way!) by the response. So much so that I’m going to split this into a few posts. Fortunately, the women who were highlighted by Langenheim are already in a list of ecologist pages needed on Wikipedia, so I have chosen not to add them to this list for now. But I hope everyone reads the Langenheim paper, and that some people are inspired to tackle Wikipedia pages for some of these women! On a related note, one of the women feastured by Langenheim, Lucy Braun, was featured in this excellent post by Jacquelyn Gill in honor of an earlier Ada Lovelace Day. (UPDATE: I missed that Jacquelyn also has an Ada Lovelace Day post on EC Pielou, another pioneering ecologist. This one is also worth reading!)

For this post, I will focus on current US National Academy of Sciences members who are women ecologists and/or evolutionary biologists. Obviously there are many, many more women who also deserve to be featured, but this seemed like a reasonable (and manageable!) starting point. I have categorized the NAS members into four groups: women who have solid Wikipedia pages, ones with Wikipedia pages that could use some work, ones with Wikipedia pages that need substantial work, and ones who need Wikipedia pages created.

I am really excited that so many people have been suggested, and look forward to compiling those into a larger list for a future post. There is just no way I could get that post pulled together in time for Ada Lovelace Day! In the comments, feel free to suggest the names of women who you think should be on the list. (Update 2: I have put the current list in the comments. Feel free to suggest more!) Also, if any of you know of good resources on how to go about actually editing/creating Wikipedia pages, I would love to hear about those, too. (I haven’t had time to do research on this yet, but plan to in the future.)

Solid Wikipedia pages:
Jane Lubchenco
Mary Jane West-Eberhard

Wikipedia pages that could use some work:
Sallie Chisholm
Gretchen Daily
Pamela Matson
Monica Turner

Wikipedia pages that need substantial work:
May Berenbaum
Rita Colwell
Margaret Davis
Rosemary Grant
Mimi Koehl
Trudy Mackay
Nancy Moran
Tomoko Ohta
Ruth Patrick (recently deceased, but I’m including her anyway; she would probably be my top vote for a woman scientist whose picture I’d want on my wall to inspire me, similar to NatC)
Barbara Schaal
Joan Strassmann

No existing Wikipedia page (yet!):
Mary Arroyo
Jody Deming
Margaret Kidwell
Johanna (Annie) Schmitt
Sandra Díaz (though this Spanish language Wiki page appears to be about her)
Estella Leopold
Mary Power
Susan Trumbore

Thanks to Andrea Kirkwood, CackleofRad, Morgan Ernest, Aimée Classen, Emilio Bruna, Dr. Wrasse, Karen LipsNick Tomeo, Perry Fight’n, Frank Aylward, Terry McGlynn, Alan Townsend, Elizabeth Quinn, Jessica Blois, Natalie Cooper, Chris Harrod, Rich Lenski, James Waters, Kendi Davies, NOGLSTP, Sciencegurl, AlbatrossPhD, Arvid Ågren, Aerin Jacob, Leslie Brunetta, Simone Vincenzi, Ainsley S, David Mayhood, Linda Campbell, Michael Hawkes, Simon Leather, Stuart Auld, Anna-Liisa Laine, Jamie Estill, Erica Garcia, Jennifer Fox, Sara Thomas, and Joe Mendelson for suggestions via Twitter and Facebook! As I said above, I will continue to compile a full list and will post that in a future post.

23 thoughts on “Women Ecologists, Wikipedia, and Ada Lovelace Day (part 1) (Updated x2!)

  1. Great post Meg!

    You probably already have her on the list, but when you get around to expanding beyond US NAS members, Sally Otto’s Wikipedia page is just a skeleton: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Otto

    Off topic, but I love the graphic art that you linked to. The artist, Megan Lee, has posters, shirts, mugs, postcards, etc. in that style for a huge range of scientists. Will have to update this old post: https://dynamicecology.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/cool-science-graphics/

  2. Here’s the current list of people who’ve been suggested, now that I’ve finally had a chance to get it alphabetized and to remove the duplicate (or triplicate+) entries. (Apologies for misspellings. I haven’t had a chance to check them all yet.) Feel free to suggest more!

    The list:
    Jeanne Altmann
    Mary Anning
    Ginger Armbrust
    Mary Arroyo
    Catherine Badgley
    Jill Banfield
    Harriet George Barclay
    Ann Bartuska
    Carol Baskin
    Bonnie Bassler
    Janice Beatley
    Kay Behrensmeyer
    Barbara L Bentley
    May Berenbaum
    Emily Bernhardt
    Janice Bailey
    Elizabeth Blackburn
    Sarah Blaffer-Hrdy
    Antje Boetius
    Annette Braun
    Judith Bronstein
    Carla Cáceres
    Diana Campbell
    Rachel Carson
    Colleen Cavanaugh
    Lauren Chapman
    Robin Chazdon
    Frances Chew
    Sallie (Penny) Chisholm
    Martha Christensen
    Deborah Clark
    Edith Schwartz Clements
    Beryl Robichaud Collins
    Rita Colwell
    Anna Comstock
    Kathy Conlon
    Verona Conway
    Lynda Corkhum
    Martha Crump
    Gretchen Daily
    Virginia Dale
    Margaret Davis
    Ruth DeFries
    Lynda Delph
    Jody Deming
    Deborah Dexter
    Sandra Díaz
    Jane Claire Dirks-Edmunds
    Angela Douglas
    Sylvia Earle
    Katherine Ewel
    Lenore Fahrig
    Mildred Faust
    Linda Fedigan
    Catherine Mary Firestone
    Diane Fossey
    Laurel Fox
    Helen Gaige
    Birute Galdikas
    Margaret Gilbert
    Rosemary Gillespie
    Deborah Goldberg
    Jane Goodall
    Patty Gowaty
    Rosemary Grant
    Lisa Graumlich
    Nancy Grimm
    Katherine (Kay) Gross
    Liz Hadly
    Susan Harrison
    C Drew Harvell
    Jane Hill
    Sarah Hobbie
    Hopi Hoekstra
    Felicity Huntingford
    Frances James
    Minna Jewell
    Nancy Johnson
    Catherine Keever
    Margaret Kidwell
    Sue Kidwell
    Mimi Koehl
    Hanna Kokko
    Jean Langenheim
    Mary Leakey
    Estella Leopold
    Frances Louise Long
    Jane Lubchenco
    Virpi Lummaa
    Wangari Maathai
    Trudy Mackay
    Anne Magurran
    Johanna Mappes
    Lynn Margulis
    Susan S Martin
    Jennifer Martiny
    Mildred Mathias
    Pamela Matson
    Diane McKnight
    Jane Memmott
    Maria Sibylla Merian
    Judith Meyer
    Fiorenza Micheli
    EJ Milner
    Emmeline Moore
    Mary Ann Moran
    Nancy Moran
    Patrice Morrow
    Alexandra Morton
    Judith Myers
    Roz Naylor
    Bonita Neiland
    Margaret Morse Nice
    Tomoko Ohta
    Sally Otto
    Margaret Palmer
    Linda Partridge
    Mercedes Pascual
    Sheila Patek
    Gail Patricelli
    Ruth Patrick
    Bobbi Peckarsky
    Josephine Pemberton
    EC Pielou
    Karen Porter
    Catherine Potvin
    Mary Power
    Elsie Quarterman
    Nancy Rabalais
    Deborah Rabinowitz
    Beverly Rathcke
    Rosie Redfield
    Susan Reichert
    Katherine Richardson
    Miriam Rothschild
    Outi Savolainen
    Rebecca Sharitz
    Barbara Schaal
    Johanna (Annie) Schmitt
    Edith Bellamy Shreve
    Mary Silver
    Nancy Slack
    Felisa Smith
    Judy Stamps
    Nellie Stark
    Margaret Stewart
    Joan Strassmann
    Sharon Strauss
    Gwendolyn Struik
    Ellen Swallow
    Frieda Taub
    Zuleyma Tang-Martinez
    Margaret Thayer
    Mary Treat
    Susan Trumbore
    Lyudmila Trut
    Monica Turner
    Sara Via
    Susanne von Caemmerer
    Diana Wall
    Maxine Watson
    Nina Wedell
    Patricia Werner
    Mary Jane West-Eberhard
    Rachel Whitaker
    Beatrice A Willard
    Kathy Willis
    Mary Willson
    Sarah Ann Woodin
    Joy Zedler

  3. Let’s not forget Miriam Rothschild. Whoops! Now I see that she’s on your list duffymeg!! Inspiring piece. Thank you!

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    • Fantastic! I’d love to hear more about how you found working on a wikipedia page. Had you done this before? How hard was it to figure out what you needed to do?

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  8. A bit of a hint for getting Wikipedia articles written: Give a one-sentence biography of the person, stating their field and any major achievements or interesting facts. It’s very hard, faced with a list of people who you don’t know anything about already, to choose one of them to make a start on.

    I’d love to help, but a little guidance helps direct things. For instance, given a choice, I’d prefer to work on someone who worked in game theory.

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