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In a move to increase the visibility of women in science and academia, the BIH got together with committed citizens to create or edit a large number of Wikipedia entries about female scientists and scholars past and present who were or are based in Berlin. On the basis of this project, an exemplary exhibition has been created that draws attention to the outstanding female scientists and scholars of our times and finally gives credit where it is due, acknowledging women who were pioneers in their fields and who paved the way for other women to follow in their footsteps.

“The world of science and scholarship belongs to you!”

Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller explained the motivation behind the exhibition: “Over the past decades, many great women have made tremendous contributions to making Berlin the leading center of innovation it is today. This exhibition aims to honor the work of those women and especially to pass on a message to all young women and schoolgirls – that the world of science and scholarship belongs to you!”

Visitors to the exhibition will get to know outstanding representatives of their fields who spent at least part of their working life in Berlin. The women featured in the exhibition include Theda Borde, a professor of social medicine and former Chancellor of the Alice Salomon Hochschule Berlin; genetic researcher Emmanuelle Charpentier, who was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of the CRISPR-Cas genome editing tool; neurologist Cécile Vogt, who was nominated for the Nobel Prize 13 times but never received it; sociologist and politician Marlis Dürkop-Leptihn, who was the first woman to be elected President of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, succeeding 118 male predecessors; and many more. BIH’s Equal Opportunities Officer Karin Höhne, who led the project, said that, “It was great fun for us to explore the biographies of all these fascinating women and prepare them for Wikipedia.”

Only 17 percent of Wikipedia profiles are of women

Höhne and project coordinator Carmen Kurbjuhn hosted three edit-a-thons and several writing workshops in which they brought Wikipedia experts together with individuals who were keen to enhance the world’s biggest encyclopedia with new or improved biographies of women scientists and scholars. “Currently only 17 percent of all Wikipedia biographies are dedicated to women,” explains Kurbjuhn. “So it’s no surprise that they are less known and receive less recognition. We want to change that!” A total of 50 participants joined in the project, from a 16-year-old schoolboy to a 70-year-old pensioner. Together, they composed 16 new Wikipedia entries and edited 150 existing articles. “We assume that most of the participants will continue to do research and writing even after our shared work has come to an end,” says Höhne. “That way, they will continue to promote the visibility of women scientists and scholars over the long term.”

“With the highest percentage of women in science and academia in Germany today, Berlin is often called the Hauptstadt der Wissenschaftlerinnen,” says Professor Christopher Baum, Chair of the BIH Board of Directors and Chief Translational Research Officer of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. “The BIH is also home to excellent women researchers. Yet as in so many professions, female members of the scientific and academic community receive less public recognition than their male counterparts, and their past and current accomplishments are rarely given the visibility they deserve. We wanted to change that with this project. Just like the vast majority of other life science institutes, we must also take active care to achieve de facto equality at all career levels.s”

From October 20 to December 20, 2021 in the Red City Hall – with free admission

The exhibition “Berlin – Hauptstadt der Wissenschaftlerinnen” is open free of charge every weekday from October 20 to December 20, 2021 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Red City Hall (Rathausstr. 15, 10178 Berlin). After that time, the exhibition will tour various locations in Berlin and will be available as a virtual exhibition on the BIH website (www.bihealth.org).

Click here for the photo gallery

Dr. Stefanie Seltmann

Head of Communications, Press Spokesperson

Contact information
Phone:+49 30 450 543 019
E-mail:stefanie.seltmann@bih-charite.de