UCL Department of Geography


Improving the representation of the LGBTQ communities on Wikipedia

7 August 2019

UCL Geography hosts training meeting

Improving the representation of the LGBTQ communities on Wikipedia

Out in Geography and the UCL Women in Physics Group co-hosted an LGBTQ+ Wikithon in UCL Geography on 5th July to celebrate the second International Day of LGBTQ+ People in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (#LGBTSTEMday). Thirty people from UCL and beyond gathered to learn how to create and edit Wikipedia pages.

Wikipedia is the 5th most visited computer site in the world, with 1.5 million biographies in English, but it falls significantly short in representing the diversity of society, including the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer & questioning community (LGBTQ+).

Dr Ying Lia Li (Physics) and Professor Anson Mackay (Geography) organised a series of talks and a Wikithon aimed specifically at increasing LGBTQ representation.

Three invited speakers launched the Wikithon:

Professor Robert Mills (UCL, History of Art): Professor of medieval studies, ex-director of qUCL, UCL's LGBTQ research network, who also took the lead on The Queer Tapestry Exhibition, showcasing the histories and voices of UCL’s LGBTQ+ community.

Dr Jess Wade (Imperial College, Physics): researcher on polymer-based light emitting diodes, BEM (British Empire Medal) recipient for services to gender equality in science. Jess has written over 500 Wikipedia biographies on scientists.

Dr Alice White (Wellcome Collection): Digital Editor for the Wellcome Collection, and Wikimedian in Residence. She was awarded the Women in Engineering Society's Amy Johnson Inspiration Award 2017.

Alice had provided training at two previous Wikithons hosted by UCL Women in Physics, creating biographies for women and Black, Asian, and Ethnic Minority scientists. Here she provided an easy-to-follow teaching demo to create and edit Wikipedia pages.

Notable LGBTQ+ researchers were then picked from a pre-selected list of those so far without a Wikipedia entry. It is planned to complete many of these pages to raise the representation of LGBTQ+ researchers on Wikipedia

Following the success of this Wikithon, there will be a follow-up meeting during the next academic year.

For further information, contact either Anson Mackay or Dr Ying Lia Li (Physics)