Readings — From the January 2014 issue

Where Edit Is Due

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From additions to Wikipedia entries on women with significant achievements in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, made by volunteers during an event hosted by Brown University last October. An estimated 84 percent of Wikipedia’s volunteer editors are male.

created what is now considered the first office computer

It appears she had no formal higher education

the first person to hold the new post of Plant Pathologist in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

* The name of the website has been corrected on; it was cited incorrectly in the Wikipedia edit quoted in the print edition of Harper's Magazine

a black, female scientist who blogs at Scientific American, was called a “whore” in an email by an editor at the science website Biology Online,* after refusing to write professional content without compensation

Sir Lawrence Bragg mentioned that he believed the field of crystallography was particularly welcoming to women because the techno-aesthetics of the molecular structures resembled textiles and household objects

shows women how to calculate their ideal weight with a formula

included developing the “effective temperature” scale to incorporate humidity and air movement in the equation for human comfort

perfected a new portable machine that determines the amount of germ-laden dust in schoolrooms and public places while conducting field tests for the New York Commission on School Ventilation

achieving top positions in several companies

uncovered hundreds of such women when, in preparation for a post-doctoral study of 20th-Century American science, she delved into the reference work American Men of Science

has also shown that lunasin, a peptide found in soy and some cereal grains, has the ability to inhibit the aberrant inflammation that can occur in chronic diseases, including cancer

had a progressive muscular disability, and was confined to a wheelchair by 1960. Despite this, her ninth-floor office at the research facility, Chandler Hall, never changed

played a role in getting Mattel to remove that phrase from Barbie’s microchip

had the idea for a word processor to simplify the work of secretaries

found an undisturbed Bronze-Age beehive tomb in Kavousi

was able to reach into some of the most inaccessible crevices

did not return to the field after contributing to a 1908 publication, though she wrote a biography of her aunt and helped with her husband’s travel book

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  • Anton Zuiker

    Regarding the item above beginning “a black, female scientist who blogs…”

    Please note that the science website involved in that incident was Biology Online, not Science Online (nor ScienceOnline, my organization). The Wikipedia page ( currently reflects the correct information, and I encourage you to correct your own site.

    It is unfortunate, perhaps ironic, that your column highlighting a gender imbalance among Wikipedia’s volunteer editors should perpetuate an inaccuracy. ScienceOnline is an organization run by a woman executive director, and our annual conference is widely praised for drawing as many — at times more — women than men to our energetic discussions about science and the web.

    In fact, we have space at our ScienceOnline Together 2014 event in February (, and highly recommend that you send a representative or two.

    Anton Zuiker
    Co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors

    • Harper’s Magazine

      We’ve corrected it above, and will discuss running a correction in the next issue of the print magazine. Thanks for your note.


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