Tag: #IWD2018

Reflections on International Women’s Day 2018 and Wikipedia – A Gude Cause

I have been working as Wikimedian in Residence at the University of Edinburgh for just over two years now (one year part-time and one year full-time) so now seems a good time to start the deep delving of reflecting back. (I’m also, it has to be said, contractually obliged to reflect back now I am undertaking my CMALT).

The importance of reflection in my role, or any role for that matter, is not lost on me… and not a new experience either. My background is in English and Media teaching at secondary school level and the yearly soul-searching and evidencing of continuous professional development is something other teachers will recognise. Teaching, it has to be said, can be a very solitary profession at times. Aside from tea and lunch breaks you often spend the lion’s share of your day working autonomously in your own classroom; reflecting on your work and intuitively planning to better meet the needs of your students. Like most teachers, I tried to lead by example, offering support, guidance, humour when needed, cajoling when needed, and generally trying to remove any barriers to learning. Like most teachers, I needed to train myself to remember all the good things achieved during each day rather than dwelling on the work still outstanding or the things that hadn’t worked out.

The volunteering I did in various archives too (University of Glasgow Archives, Glasgow School of Art Archives and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Archives) was solitary in nature a great deal of the time. I didn’t mind that. There was something immensely gratifying about the process of quietly sorting* through the archives, looking for buried treasures and helping to catalogue & write about them so others could learn about them. A world away from the noise of the classroom. Though I’ll confess that those moments when I felt I made a difference in the classroom and helped inspire a love of learning in others (not to mention the daily barrage of humour that was released on me) is something one can’t help but miss.

Teaching and volunteering in libraries/archives were two aspects of my life for a while; and I felt they complemented one another perfectly. So, you can imagine how thrilled I was that these aspects could be combined in one role working as the Wikimedian in Residence at the University of Edinburgh.

The difference now is that I am no longer just a teacher. I learn just as much as I teach… which I love. Such is the fast-developing nature of the Wikimedia projects, there is always something new to learn and to share with others once mastered. Beyond this, after completing four courses of study in higher education, I was well versed in being a student but found I had a lot to learn about the inner workings of a university; especially one like the University of Edinburgh with some 35,000 students and 13,000 staff. Working to support the whole university across all the teaching colleges and support groups to see how the university could benefit from, and contribute to, the Wikimedia projects is a very new role; the first in the United Kingdom so I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to break new ground. I have never wavered in my belief that there are huge areas of crossover between universities and the Wikimedia projects and therefore huge opportunities to explore the untapped potential of collaborating with one another. This has been hugely exciting, hugely rewarding…. and, at times, more than a little daunting because there is so much that could and should be done. And in those few quiet moments when I have had my head too far buried in my laptop to see the wood for the trees and my inner Eeyore has taken over this can feel like another solitary role.

Only it hasn’t been. Not really.

And this, more than anything else, is why I believe that the residency is working.

Because I work in an incredibly supportive environment and learn everyday from the example of brilliant, inspiring women. Reflecting back, my two years at the University of Edinburgh has been characterised by, and shaped by, the fantastic female colleagues I work with. Even today at our International Women’s Day Wikipedia event to celebrate the lives and contributions of the suffragettes, I was struck by the absolute enthusiasm for editing Wikipedia by our all-female group of attendees. “This is soooo addictive.” was proclaimed multiple times this afternoon. Which is unfailingly awesome to hear as Wikipedia has (historically) been seen as the preserve of white techy males.

Not anymore. Not on the evidence of the last two years. Things are definitely changing for the better. Though there is still a way to go. #PressForProgress

So, I would like to pay tribute on International Women’s Day to the inspiring women that I feel honoured to work with and learn from. You’ve helped champion the work of the residency, of Wikimedia UK and the sharing of open knowledge. You’ve pointed me in the right direction (sometimes literally), provided advice, ideas, support, carved turnips, Periodic table cupcakes, guided me, forced me to take pictures of strip clubs for Wiki Loves Monuments, made me laugh, made me see things differently, challenged me to grow as a practitioner; and demonstrated just what it means to be dedicated & brilliant professional.

I am not normally one to pay compliments or give enough credit where credit is due as a general rule. A fault I know.

But in the dying moments of International Women’s Day I thought I could sneak this out.

I am endlessly grateful so I doff my hat to you all!


  • Melissa Highton – Twas bold to be first to host a university-wide Wiki residency. And Melissa has been never less than brilliantly supportive throughout.
  • Anne-Marie Scott* – “quietly sorting” maybe Anne-Marie’s superpower/kryptonite.
  • Lorna Campbell – Tumshie carving maybe Lorna’s superpower… among many others.
  • Charlie Farley – My brilliant (and award-winning!) Open Education team colleague.
  • Marshall Dozier
  • Nahad Gilbert
  • Jo Newman
  • Nicola Osborne
  • Jo Spiller
  • Donna Watson
  • Ruth Jenkins
  • Kirsty Lingstadt
  • Allison Littlejohn
  • Gill Hamilton
  • Clare Button
  • Leah McCabe
  • Susan Greig
  • Maren Deepwell
  • Viv Rolfe
  • Sheila MacNeill
  • Catherine Cronin
  • Maha Bali
  • Karoline Nanfeldt – Inspiring student!
  • Ally Crockford – the first Wikimedian in Residence in Scotland. Never forgotten.
  • Alice White – our wondrous Wellcome Library Wikimedian.
  • Jess Wade
  • Sara Thomas – the one and only.
  • Gillian Daly
  • Amy Burge
  • Susan Ross
  • Siobhan O’Connor
  • Sophie Nicholl
  • Rebecca O’Neill
  • Lesley Orr
  • Daria Cybulska
  • Lucy Crompton-Reid
  • Katherine Maher
  • Agnes Bruszik
  • Josie Fraser
  • Kara Johnston
  • Lorraine Spalding
  • Steph Hay
  • Jackie Aim
  • Karen Gregory
  • Melissa Terras
  • Jen Ross
  • Dorothy Miel
  • Marissa Wu
  • Charlotte Bosseaux
  • Hephzibah Israel
  • Polly Arnold
  • Jane Norman
  • Lydia Crow
  • Zoe Tupling
  • Penny Andrews
  • Karen Bowman
  • Lea Auregann.
  • Lydia Pintscher
  • Agomoni GanguliMitra
  • Celeste McLaughlin
  • Lauren Nixon
  • Mary Going.
  • Alice Doyle
  • Catherine Koppe
  • Laura Arnautovic
  • Lauren Johnston-Smith
  • Jemima John
  • Jenni Houston
  • Christina Hussell
  • Caroline Wallace
  • Cathy Abbott
  • Jenny Lauder
  • Rowena Stewart
  • Sara Mörtsell
  • Fiona Brown
  • Jessie Paterson
  • Victoria Dishon
  • Siobhan Leachman
  • Athina Frantzana
  • Caroline Kuhn
  • Mihaela Bodlovic
  • Naomi Appleton
  • Cinzia Pusceddu
  • Christine Sinclair
  • Sebnem Susam–Saraeva.

And many more besides that I have no doubt shamefully forgotten.

Consider my hat doffed.