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Donna Strickland won her Nobel prize in Physics before she got a wikipedia page (wikipedia.org)
41 points by kaboro on Oct 2, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 24 comments

Did anyone else hear her interview on BBC radio? They ended by asking why she hadn't applied to be a full professor yet, and she clearly didn't want to talk about it. Wonder what's going on there.

Edit: this episode https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w172w25chfb2c1f Interview starts at 12:55, awkward question at 16:45

I also noticed this -- clearly, not a lot of love in the dept for her. A bit awkward now, and I suspect soon, she will be a full prof, perhaps at a different university....


“Sumner says the fact that Strickland’s Wikipedia page has only appeared today is telling.

“It took a Nobel prize for Donna Strickland to be noticed enough to have a (short) Wikipedia page written about her. Another example of how womens’ contributions to science go unnoticed and uncelebrated,” she says. “It takes the science equivalent of an Oscar for a woman in Stem [science, technology engineering and mathematics] to get noticed!””

Scientists don’t have TV shows, if they don’t win awards, how else am I supposed to hear about them?

Wow that's pretty sad. It looks like Wikipedia has a gender gap task force (GGTF) to counter the gender gap.


This is one of the main reasons I started https://theymadethat.com (IMDB for everything, not just movies). Not many people have the privilege to have their own Wikipedia entry. The qualifications for getting one also seem very arbitrary.

Per the deletion log there was an article on her in '14 that an administrator deleted due to unambiguous copyright infringement. It seems no one ever took interest in taking it up after that.

The speedy deletion process has always made me a bit uncomfortable, I wish there was any kind of public information about that deletion besides the deletion comment which consists of a single template without further info.

Jacques Dubochet (2017, Chemistry) got his Wikipedia page on the day he won the Prize, too.

One of the men he shared the prize with, Joachim Frank also got his page in the year he got the prize, although his page came a few months before the prize.

One of the 2016 Chemistry winners, Ben Feringa, didn't get his page until the year before.

Maybe someone got confused at Wikipedia and thought Strickland won in Chemstry!

It's a real problem -- "only 18% of biographies are of women" on wikipedia and "between 84 and 90 percent of Wikipedia editors are male".

I also remember reading in the past year about how the male skew in wikipedia editors leads to all sorts of bias. They approve all sorts of wikipedia entries on fictional sci-fi characters and reject entries for female leaders worldwide (in the west but even more so when it comes to developing nations)

Source for the stats: https://www.wired.com/story/using-artificial-intelligence-to...

Why is there so much bias? Do these men just hate women? Is it cultural?

I really don't understand this.

I'm not saying its malicious or deliberate, but any non-diverse population will tend to exhibit some bias.

I don't think its that surprising that a group of men share different view points about worthy posts than a group of women would. The point is wikipedia doesn't have good coverage in this regard. I'd say the same thing for a group of American editors vs a group of African editors. Or a group of wall st professionals vs blue collar workers.

Wikipedia's editors have a diversity problem in light of their goal to be the "world's encyclopedia".

I suspect the underlying bias is, "have I heard of this before?" If not, it's more likely the entry gets rejected. The more homogeneous the population of editors, the more narrow their experience scope. This is amplified by external biases that make women's contributions less visible - it's harder for new awareness to be built.

Just a theory.

Also an indictment of the godawful WP draft process. That article by a new editor sat in the till for two months before getting rejected in a manner that made it unclear that it could be later revised and accepted.

The actual article that went up doesn't look like it went through the useless draft process at all. It was drafted and published directly to the main namespace, ironically enough by copying Gérard Mourou's article and then deleting everything from it.

Right now, there are something around 20 article on the front page of Wikipedia, about half of them connected to recent news or anniversaries (birthdays, historic events, etc.) There are about 5.6 million articles in Wikipedia, it says. So how far would a Wikipedia page about Donna Strickland have contributed to her fame among those of us who are not physicists? And would the physicists among us have needed Wikipedia to learn about her?

the other two winners, male, had pages https://twitter.com/clancynewyork/status/1047098079097380864, there's a broader argument about bias here

I think the strongest bias in this case is favoring advisors over the students who do the work, even if they get first authorship.

For example, the Alex of AlexNet [1] fame would be Alex Krizhevsky, if he were actually famous. He doesn't have a Wikipedia page, but his advisor Geoffrey Hinton does (and is famous for the AlexNet breakthrough).

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AlexNet

How can an encyclopedia that anyone can edit be biased?

Anyone could have added her page, no one did, until now.

Someone created a wiki page for her back in May, but it was deleted because a Wikipedia editor decided she wasn't "notable". Anyone can edit Wikipedia, but it still has the bias of the most recent editor.


Actually she had a page, but it was deleted. And then someone recreated the page, and it was rejected in review. QED

The editors didn’t think she was notable enough. This is an editing problem not a submission problem.

I'd be curious who made those two or if it was themselves.

Wikipedia has arbitrary rules for a lot of people, some youtubers have pages but others with bigger reach don't. Some blogs are considered proper critics but youtube critics aren't.

That's awesome! Smart AND humble. Hats off to Ms. Strickland.

Edit: I assume a less humble person would have pushed to get their page long before getting a Nobel prize.

Good for her!

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