Institute of Archaeology



Gender and power in developer-funded archaeology | Tue Dec 17 09:30:00 | Room 828

This session will be a panel debate exploring gendered experiences in developer-funded archaeology in and outside the UK; a much relied upon sector for paid archaeology work that plays an important role in keeping archaeologists employed and furthering research in our field. Previous TAG sessions and research on feminist archaeology, including H. L. Cobb’s recent studies on gender and diversity in developer-funded archaeology (2012; 2015), have helped to shine a light on the issues surrounding gender in this industry. Gender is empowering but our experiences can still leave us feeling powerless. Women have enhanced and still enhance our understanding of the past, actively contributing as archaeologists in the field and in research for hundreds of years. Acknowledgment of women’s role in excavating the past has thankfully been a popular topic in recent years and is receiving the attention it deserves, but more work can still be done. There are numerous gender related issues, within our current industry, that deserve even more attention. These range from, but are not limited to: sexual misconduct; maternity; gender stereotyping; gender roles; promotion opportunities; gender pay-gap; gendered physical and mental health issues; child-care and many more. These issues can result in many women leaving the field altogether (Clancy et al, 2014). This session seeks to provide a platform to share experiences of gender and power in developer-funded archaeology from around the world in a safe space. In doing so, we hope to raise awareness, provide a support network and demonstrate the need for change.

Cobb, H. L. 2012. ‘Digging diversity? A preliminary examination of disciplinary diversity in UK archaeology’, Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory.
Cobb, H. L. 2015. ‘A diverse profession? Challenging inequalities and diversifying involvement in British archaeology’, in P. Everill and P. Irving (eds.) Rescue Archaeology: Foundations for the Future, 226-245. Hereford: RESCUE.
Clancy, K. B. H; Nelson R. G; Rutherford J. N; Hinde, K. 2014. ‘Survey of Academic Field Experiences (SAFE): Trainees Report Harassment and Assault’, PLoS ONE 9 (7).

Session timetable
9:30 | Session organisers


9:35 | Jenny Andrew, Prospect Union

A reformative, trade union approach to tackling sexual harassment

Prospect is a trade union with a strong and growing membership in commercial, public sector and charity sector archaeology. In the light of the Me Too movement, Prospect has been reforming its
policy and guidance, based on the new understanding of sexual harassment. We present a holistic approach that aims to give collective agency to the workforce to tackle sexual harassment.
Archaeology exhibits major and minor antecedents of workplace sexual harassment:
- entrenched gender stratification through the hierarchy and occupational structures
- tolerance, or at least the appearance of tolerance of sexism
- fieldwork, multi-employer workspaces, and conferences, which constitute both flash-points for misconduct and grey-areas for its remedy

We present the findings of our 2018 Workplace Cultures Survey, which indicate how these risk factors manifest in the working culture of the sector. Comparing the responses of nearly 300 archaeologists to workers in other industries, we find high rates of bullying, harassment and discrimination, including sexual harassment. Our results allow us to diagnose such factors as the prevalence of specific behaviours, the demographics of both target-groups and harassers, and problems with workplace procedures.

Prospect’s research is action-oriented; to inform trade union organising, bargaining, and campaigning. We frame sexual harassment as a cultural and structural phenomenon, requiring an overhaul of cultural and material factors to address it. We present the strategy and tactics we are using with our branches, and with some forward-thinking employers, to address both the causes and the actuality of sexual harassment.

9:50 | Danielle Bradford, University of Cambridge / RESPECT (Women in Archaeology & Heritage) Group

"A Culture of Shame and Silence": Redistributing power in the field.

Sexual misconduct occurs at high rates during fieldwork. My research focuses on determining why this is, in order to inform policies and protocols. I found that the most important predictors of sexual misconduct occurring during fieldwork were the length of the fieldwork and the policies and protocols regarding sexual misconduct that were (or weren’t) in place. Length of time as a risk factor is particularly important for developer-funded and commercial archaeology, for which the ‘field’ is the permanent workplace. Misconduct is often gendered: I found that women and non-binary individuals were significantly more likely to have experienced this. When thinking about gender and power, including sexual misconduct in the conversation is vital: misconduct is rarely about sex, and often about exerting power. Individuals part of traditionally marginalised identities (including based on gender) are common targets. It takes away power and autonomy from the victim-survivor, and a common consequence is the individual leaving their field site, department, discipline and/or workplace to ensure their own safety. We are losing a significant number of colleagues this way.

In recent years there has been an increase in awareness of this, but we are yet to see if this awareness has contributed to a safer workplace environment. It is important to continue this conversation in a safe space that allows for critical and nuanced discussions of the complex interplay between gender and power, and to continue to fight for safety for ourselves and our colleagues.

10:05 | Sadie Watson, MOLA

Personal, Political, Professional: Reflections on a gendered career in archaeology

After almost 25 years working in the developer-funded sector I can reflect upon how my gender has impacted upon my practice and career development. The recent #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have brought issues surrounding sexual discrimination to the fore in many occupations and archaeology is slowly facing its own reckoning. My paper will focus on my own experiences in the profession, which have included extensive time spent on site, on post-excavation, and presenting archaeology to the wider public, none of which have been without their specific challenges in relation to discrimination. Two periods of maternity leave and the subsequent time spent as a working mother in field archaeology have further impacted upon my career. As a senior member of the field profession with years spent as a union rep and active member of CIfA, I will situate my own gendered experiences within the wider sector, with the full awareness that the personal is always political.

10:20 | Sara Simões, Cambridge Archaeological Unit / STARQ- Sindicato dos Trabalhadores de Arqueologia (Portuguese Union for Archaeologists); Sara Brito, STARQ- Sindicato dos Trabalhadores de Arqueologia (Portuguese Union for Archaeologists)

Is my gender an issue? An analysis on the Portuguese developer-funded archaeology

At the end of the 20th century women in Portugal have achieved numerical parity in archaeology. However, does this really mean equality? If nowadays women perform essential roles in Portuguese developer-funded archaeology, it is also true that they still have to fight against labour barriers that hinder the full exercise of the profession, barriers that are in themselves a reflection of strongly established social paradigms. Therefore, it is important to keep stressing situations of gender inequality and discrimination in the exercise of the profession.

Considering that the contemporary practice of archaeology is highly influenced by the contingencies resulting from patriarchal institutional structures and other social inequalities, in this paper, we will discuss the need to achieve gender equality in Portuguese developer-funded archaeology. How can we face the fact that Portugal is the third country in the European Union with the highest percentage of workers with precarious ties, most of whom are women? And that female workers represent 70% of all cases of occupational diseases while the synthetic fertility index of archaeologists is below the national average? What kind of policies should be taken into place to achieve fair wages and social benefits (including a balanced maternity leave)? What strategies should we consider to fight the misogynistic practices that still affect women in archaeology? These are some of the questions we aim to discuss in this session, reflecting on the current archaeological practice and searching for a new praxis.

10:35 | María Coto-Sarmiento, University of Barcelona; Maria Yubero-Gómez, Independient researcher; Ana Pastor, University of Barcelona; Apen Ruíz, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya; Lourdes López, Independent researcher; Lara Delgado, University of Granada; Jesús Martín, Independent researcher

Dusting off the sexual harassment in Spanish Archaeology

The number of women professionally involved in Archaeology is growing in Spain according to several studies. Despite the increasing number of women, the relations between gender and archaeology are still open for further research. However, there is a great silence about sexual harassment in archaeology due to the lack of initiatives in the Spanish archaeological community.

The aim of this project was to create a space where we could collect these stories in order to document the problem of sexual harassment and sexism in the Spanish archaeology. We conducted an internet-based survey about sexual harassment experiences of archaeologists in Spain. Our survey was focused on collecting data through different questions related to lived experiences of sexual harassment. The survey’s goal was to detect cases of sexual harassment both in commercial archaeology and university-related activities. Additionally, we were interested in discussing the consequences of harassment both for perpetrators and survivors in terms of career development.

Results showed a high-level of sexual harassment reported by women archaeologists in universities compared to commercial archaeology. Our findings also showed different harassment dynamics linked to power and impunity based on the invisible violence in multiple ways: physically, verbally, symbolically, and in terms of identity. Finally the data brought to light by our survey indicated that 1 out of every 2 women had suffered some situation of harassment. To conclude, we discuss some suggestions to reduce the number of assaults and the need to create a “Code of conduct” in fieldwork and other contexts in Spain.

10:50 | Alessandro Garrisi, National Archaeologists Association, Italy; Oriana Cerbone, National Archaeologists Association, Italy; Marcella Giorgio, National Archaeologists Association, Italy; Cristiana La Serra, National Archaeologists Association, Italy

“Italian archaeology is female”: issues and future of a female profession.

Professional archaeology in Italy is female. Thanks to the female pioneers of Italian archaeology, the profession, over the decades, has taken on an increasingly feminine face, to the point that in
recent years it has led to a prevalence of 70% of women employed in archaeology. Today in Italy, in the archaeological context, two work paths are possible: one, prevailing, as a freelancer, and a smaller one as a ministerial state employee. Comparing these two options, the gap between opportunities, social protection and welfare system is obvious, not only between the two paths but also in comparison to a not too distant past. The lack of social protection often makes female workers to abandon this activity around the 35/40 years, when family needs lead to greater economic and social stability. However, in the difficult context of Italian freelancers, there may sometimes be favourable situations coming from local environments and from care and activity of unions and associations fighting for the protection of workers' rights. A virtuous example is the case of the “Conciliando” Project carried out by Confprofessioni Sardegna to help women freelance. The Italian National Association of Archaeologists has made over the years constant commitments in this topics.

11:05 | BREAK
11:35 | Session organisers


13:00 | END