Jess Wade’s work to add women in science to Wikipedia demonstrates the importance of Stem role models for young people
As Dr Jess Wade, postdoctoral researcher in plastic electronics at Imperial College London, continues her mission of adding women in science to Wikipedia, she highlights a key problem with many “women into science” projects: a lack of evidence that they work. “There’s so much energy, enthusiasm and money going into all these initiatives to get girls into science. Absolutely none of them is evidence-based and none of them works. It’s so unscientific, that’s what really surprises me,” she says.
You wouldn’t know it from marketing campaigns such as EDF Energy’s Pretty Curious competition or IBM’s #HackAHairDryer campaign, but there’s a solid body of research from which advocates can draw inspiration. We know that, for example, role models play a crucial part in developing girls’ and women’s interests. Studies by Girlguiding UK have shown that girls value role models and that a lack of role models puts them off careers such as engineering. And a psychologist, Penelope Lockwood, found that women needed female role models to illustrate that success was attainable.