Improving biographies of women on Wikipedia

Only about 17% of biographies on Wikipedia are about women. That’s a problem. If one of the most popular sources of information worldwide is not representative of all people, the millions of readers who look to Wikipedia every month aren’t getting the full picture of knowledge out there.

As part of Women’s History Month, we’re featuring work by students in Dr. Ariella Rotramel’s Feminist Theory course at Connecticut College. They improved and created Wikipedia articles on a variety of topics last fall, including the biographies of three women who, thanks to these students, now have much more comprehensive Wikipedia articles that detail their lives, careers, and achievements.

Beatrice Fox Auerbach was president and director of department store G. Fox & Co., a labor reform pioneer, philanthropist, and educator. During her position as an executive at G. Fox & Co. from 1938 to 1959, she fought for a 40-hour work week, retirement program, and infrastructure that would support women in business and management. She sold G. Fox & Co. in 1965, and famously declared, “One thing you can be certain of is that I won’t be spending it on yachts and horses, but for the benefit of the people.” She founded the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation, an organization that made contributions to local hospitals as well as educational programs.

Rosemary Park was a scholar, advocate for women’s education, and a President of two colleges. She was President at Connecticut College from 1947 to 1962. And she was President at Barnard College, where she focused on reforming the curriculum and encouraging women to pursue subjects in the sciences, believing them to be as capable of success as their male counterparts. She was the first woman to be President at both colleges. In 1967, Park became vice-chancellor of UCLA, where her husband was a professor. She was also an active Board Member, advisor, director, and trustee for a number of organizations throughout her life, such as The Mystic Oral School for the Deaf, the Connecticut Arboretum, and the American College for Girls. Her Wikipedia article exists thanks to a student in this Fall 2017 course.

Jewel Plummer Cobb was a biologist, cancer researcher, professor, dean, and administrator. She advocated for better representation of women of color in academia, and particularly in the sciences. Throughout her career, she established resources and programs that supported students and faculty of color, including scholarship programs for minority students. Cobb’s research focused on melanoma in humans and mice and she received a number of grants for her research in cell growth. She has been recognized for her contributions in the sciences as well as the programs she supported at both Connecticut College and California State University, Fullerton.

When students improve Wikipedia as a classroom assignment, they not only gain valuable skills, but their work benefits public knowledge about previously underrepresented topics. If you’d like to know how you can get involved, visit our informational page. Also, read Dr. Ariella Rotramel’s own reflections on this Fall 2017 course here.

Header image: File:A student in Connecticut College’s GWS 306 stands in front of her poster on Jewel Plummer Cobb.jpg, Alphareductaze, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.