Blogtober is going much more quickly than I anticipated! It feels like I was only posting my last ‘Inspiring People’ post a few days ago, but that ode to Margaret McCartney was in fact over a week ago.. anyway, on to another hugely inspirational women! This post is about Jess Wade. Jess is a physicist and early career researcher based at Imperial College London, she also does a huge amount of fantastic public engagement work, a lot of which aims to promote physics to girls.
Why does Jess Wade inspire me?
I was first introduced to Jess (I say introduced, I’ve never actually met her – I’ve just done a lot of admiring from afar..) on Twitter, after her campaign to create Wikipedia pages for overlooked women in science hit the mainstream news. This campaign involved Jess creating Wikipedia pages for one woman who has achieved something impressive in science every single day. Now, Blogtober has been going for the grand total of 12 days now, and I’m writing this posts later and later in the day.. it’s currently after 10pm and I’m sat in my dressing gown with a decaf tea (I am so rock and roll). I cannot imagine how much work that this campaign has involved; some of my blog posts don’t take very long to write, others take a long time because they require research – for to make a Wikipedia page requires a significant amount of time and effort. Jess’s enthusiasm doesn’t stop there though, she’s been quoted saying “I had a target for doing one a day, but sometimes I get too excited and do three.” Let that sink in, she writes at least one Wikipedia page a day, but sometimes she write three. THREE. This is a woman on a mission, and I absolutely love her excitement, drive and determination.
In more recent months Jess has also started another campaign along with fellow Scientist Claire Murray. Just a warning, this is another large campaign that will make you question what on Earth you’ve achieved in the past 2 months (my excuse is that I finished my PhD – if it wasn’t for that I’m sure I’d have raised thousands of pounds for an incredible cause… yep…). Jess and Claire have so far raised over £23,000, which will be used to buy copies of Angela Saini‘s book Inferior (I reviewed Inferior last year, you can read that review here) for every state school in the UK. ISN’T THAT INCREDIBLE?! Publishing house 4th Estate have also agreed to match the donations and manage distribution – this is no small thing, and as far as I know it was started by Jess and Claire on Twitter.
Not only is Jess aiming to ensure that girls across Britain know that they can do whatever they want to do (i.e. that it’s not science that’s holding them back, it’s society), but she’s inspired other brilliant women around the world to start these types of campaigns in their own countries. Jess is now working on a further campaign alongside Maryam Zaringhalam which aims to get the book into New York City’s middle and high schools.
This video from BBC Focus is brilliant, it includes Jess Wade along with Angela Saini, Suzie Imber and Aoife Hunt talking about why there aren’t more women in science and STEM subjects more broadly. I would really recommend watching it to get a vibe of how humble, intelligent and funny Jess is.
She’s also a brilliant doodler:
Find out more
If you’d like to find out more about Jess Wade’s work, I’d recommend starting with the sources below:
A day in the life of a physicist at Imperial College London
Meet the scientist working to increase the number of underrepresented scientists and engineers on Wikipedia
Interview: Dr. Jess Wade does it all – from clever LEDs to increasing diversity in STEM
This physicist wants female scientists to get noticed. So she wrote 270 Wikipedia profiles.
Institute of Physics blog – Interview with Jess Wade
As an early career researcher, I love Jess’s positivity and her can-do attitude. She inspires me to be proactive in the way that I push forward the things that mean something to me – whether that’s public engagement, scientific research, or diversity and equality.