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Wikipedia Rejected Entry In May For Physicist Who Just Won Nobel Prize Because She Wasn't Famous Enough

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Dr. Donna Strickland is a co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for her breakthrough work in laser technology.

This year, the prize was split between Strickland and her colleagues, French scientist Gerard Mourou, and Arthur Ashkin––an American.

As a Nobel laureate, Strickland now has her own Wikipedia page.

According to Business Insider, an early submission to include the Canadian physicist in the encyclopedic search engine was rejected in May because she lacked any "significant coverage (not just passing mentions) about the subject" in secondary reference sources.

In other words, the University of Waterloo laser physicist wasn't popular enough for Wikipedia moderators to sign off on their approval.

However, Strickland's male collaborators already had existing pages on Wikipedia.

Mourou is an established scientist in his own right––with several awards to his name and a string of academic titles––all of which Wikipedia deemed sufficient distinctions to warrant for his entry. So, for that matter, is Ashkin, considered by many as the father of optical tweezers, which are "able to trap and manipulate small particles, typically order of micron in size, including dielectric and absorbing particles."

Strickland and Mourou were recognized for discovering "a method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses" and were awarded half the $1 million prize.

Strickland is one of three women in history to win the Nobel Prize in Physics and is the only woman alive with the distinction, and many have spoken out to highlight her long list of accomplishments.


Strickland follows in the footsteps of Marie Curie, who won two Nobel Prizes - one for physics in 1903 and the other for chemistry for her work in radioactivity in 1911.

Maria Goeppert-Mayer is the second woman to become a Nobel laureate. She was awarded in 1963 for her work in physics for proposing the nuclear shell model of the atomic nucleus.

It would take 55 years for another woman to win the Nobel Prize.





Dr. Jamie R. Lomax, a postdoctoral research associate in the Astronomy Department at the University of Washington, noted Strickland's important presence in academia.




The issue most people have with Strickland's previous omission from Wikipedia is the lack of recognition for women in science.

Researcher Julia Belluz told her colleague, Vox contributor Brian Resnick, about the importance of women's visibility in the field.

"When you think about what a scientist means, you probably think of an Einstein figure — a man in a lab or at a chalkboard with fuzzy, unkempt hair."
"When you think of a scientist's voice, you might conjure Neil deGrasse Tyson or Carl Sagan. With these voices and images so pervasive in our culture, it's easier to associate 'scientist' with 'man' — and in particular, 'white man.'"

The accolades poured in for the physics professor.


Strickland, for her part, never complained about sexism in science. She told BBC Radio that she'd always "been treated like an equal [to male scientists] in her career.

When asked why she never held a full position as a professor, she simply stated that she never applied. "To me, it just wasn't worth the bother," she said.

As Dr. Jacquelyn Gill, a paleoecologist and Assistant Professor of climate science at the University of Maine, pointed out, there might be a good reason for that:


H/T - Vox, BusinessInsider, Fortune, Twitter, Wikipedia

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