Advocating for unsung scientists: podcast with Wikipedian Dr Jess Wade.


Wikipedia, STEM...Pyjamas.

In this episode, our guest host Frances Brown (Associate Director, Hoare Lea) chats to physicist and Faculty of Engineering material scientist Dr Jessica Wade of Imperial College London. Having also become known as a ‘Wikipedian’ and advocate for unsung scientists including women in STEM, Jess has written thousands of online bios for those deserving of recognition and was awarded a British Empire Medal in 2019 for services to gender diversity in science.

When she began editing in 2018, 17% of biographies on English language Wikipedia (for all professions, all notable people in the world) were about women, and now – after five years of editing – the figure is still only 19%.

The way you’re socially trained as a girl is to be a team player and deliver things that benefit everyone while taking no credit for them. You say ‘we’ because you don’t want to be singled out as bossy. You are conditioned into not taking positions of leadership that would get you professionally recognised.

 As well as the joy of sitting in your pyjamas writing Wikipedia entries and helping incredible people receive acknowledgement for their work, Jess and Frances talk of the tendency to train out difference and the challenge of defining excellence by certain gender-biased metrics and criteria.

Jess Wade

To overcome the inherent gender bias, we need enthusiastic, highly relevant, very contemporary physics teaching… We need to think seriously about how we convince the best of our physics graduates to teach in schools.

 They discuss investment in physics teaching and the need stop treating the sciences as discrete subjects that don’t interact with each other, the importance of improving the environment rather than simply the resilience of the individual, and bringing men into the conversation.

Often the most powerful decision makers are not sure how to contribute – when it’s their sponsorship and mentorship which will open the door to generations of women. This increasingly loud conversation of diversity and equality seems to be leaving men’s voices out… They need to be there to push and call for change.

Find our latest chat on iTunes by searching ‘Hoare Lea’, or listen below.


About our guest host – Frances Brown

I am the workplace sector leader in Hoare Lea’s London office driving our overall strategies for the sector to support our clients. I also lead MEP and specialist project teams to design great workplaces for our clients, integrating our efforts with architecture and helping the whole team to develop market leading designs.

Frances Brown | LinkedIn