Random Musings While Surveying 75 Miles in 8 Days – Women in the Field of Archaeology

*Note: I am posting this for a friend out in the field.*

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By Emily M. Long

All undergraduate archaeology theory courses briefly cover the introduction of a feminist lens in archaeological interpretation, with it typically tied in with post-modernism and post-processualism. Numerous articles and books outline the importance of looking beyond gendered perspectives (i.e. it’s unlikely that only men knew how to create stone tools, etc.). What is not covered in—or at least does not appear to be— academic courses and beyond is the need for the mere presence of women in the field, in the actual practice of archaeology. Multiple viewpoints are a good thing. As a post-processual/processual- plus archaeologist (yes, I’m one of those archaeologists), I’m all for varying interpretations of the archaeological record (within reason).

However, are we actually seeing this happening in the field? In my, albeit short, career as an archaeologist, it is not unusual for me to be the only female archaeologist in a Federal agency office or on a CRM crew. Why?

Obviously, the Women in Archaeology blog and podcast indicate that we are out there, but is it enough of a presence? There could be any number of reasons why I tend to be the lone wolf. It could be regional. There could be more women in office-bound/higher- up positions, so I simply don’t see them in the field. And yet, as woman in her early 30s, I just don’t see very many women in my age group and up directly in the field. I remember there were far more women than men studying archaeology at my college. I remember there were far more women than men at my field school. I remember there were only female interns at the various archaeology internships in which I participated. So, where are they now?

I recently read Charles J. Peliska’s ‘Results of a Survey for Field Archaeologists/Cultural Managers’ for an episode of the Women in Archaeology Podcast. I highly recommend checking it out, as it gives some insight into how we’re being paid, what the job market looks like, issues of discrimination, etc. There were two things that particularly struck me: 1) the decrease of archaeologists in their 40s and up, and 2) the relatively high rate of those who have witnessed or were the victim of sexual harassment.

Addressing age, Peliska notes that the physicality and inconsistency of our work can cause archaeologists to shift careers. Furthermore, since many of the current positions in CRM and at Federal agencies tend to be seasonal, health insurance, retirement plans, and maternity leave are typically not provided. After a certain age, you have to start thinking about the future. With a busted knee, I know I need to consider what the future holds in store for me (i.e. employment with healthcare). I do wonder if the absence of older archaeologists working in the field may have a connection to the lack of childcare offered. You can’t exactly strap a child to your back while surveying. What needs to change to better support field archaeologists in order to keep them in the field?

As for sexual harassment, sadly, I’m not too surprised at the high rate of incidents witnessed or experienced. Of the 479 survey participants, 60.9% had seen/heard sexual jokes but no one seemed openly uncomfortable, and 30.3% had witnessed or been the victim of jokes or teasing of a sexual nature. Harassment and sexual discrimination can come in a variety of forms, some of which may seem harmless at the time. I find that ‘casual sexism’ is far more prevalent than overt sexism—at least in my experience. For example, I was the assistant crew chief for a large-scale project in which the crew chiefs were changed each session. One of these crew chiefs would only ask my male coworker for project information, assistance with equipment, etc. He would have been mortified if I said he was being sexist, but his actions said otherwise. Has casual to overt sexism made it such a difficult work environment that women tend to veer away from field jobs at a certain point?

So, here are some questions to end this stream of conscious-esque article:

1. How does fieldwork need to change?

2. How do we encourage more women to work in the field?

3. What needs to change to make the practice of archaeology a more welcoming environment?

4. How can we, as a community of archaeologists, create a zero tolerance policy for all kinds of harassment?

5. In what ways can Federal agencies and CRM companies provide support to archaeologists with families?

6. How can archaeology societies/organizations better approach issues of discrimination and harassment?


Works Cited:

Peliska, Charles J.

2016 Results of A Survey for Field Archaeologists/Cultural Resource Managers. Electronic document,, accessed May 27, 2016.

Activism, Equality, and Social Media…

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Equality and Diversity Group banner


I’m struggling to believe that Day of Archaeology has come around again. This time around I have a confession; I no longer work in Archaeology professionally. I can’t even claim a tangible link as I used to. The closest link I can claim is that I work within the museum/tourism industry – I work in tourism at a heritage site (very loosely). I was really struggling to think of what I could discuss for this year’s Day of Archaeology; certainly nothing in my day job.

Thankfully, I didn’t fully leave archaeology – I’ve “kept a toe” in the industry. In particular I’ve become involved in promoting equality in archaeology and advocating wider diversity within the profession. The CIfA’s 2012-13’s Profiling the Profession showed archaeology was a predominantly white, male orientated discipline. Just over half are male (and most of these hold the more senior positions), 99% are white, and 98% do not consider themselves to have a disability. I’ve always personally viewed archaeology as a traditionally, “left wing, accepting” discipline however recent realisations have shattered my rose-tinted spectacles. I’m committed to making a change; to improve the industry I originally worked in and still love.


Archaeology and Twitter…

One method of making a difference is communication; raising awareness that there is a problem and discussing ways we can bring about positive change. Whether you like it or loathe it, social media is seemingly here to stay, and it appears as though isn’t going away. It’s a great way of reaching thousands of people very quickly though regular updates, blogs, and specific social media events using specific hashtags (such as #dayofarch). I’m directly involved with two projects/organisations: the Every DIG Sexism project (based on the Everyday Sexism Project), which aims to highlight sexism in archaeology but also champion good practice. Secondly I’m one of the communications officers for the CIfA’s Equality and Diversity Group. We aim to continually assess barriers to equality and diversity within the profession by researching, supporting, and developing best practice strategies for challenging inequality (particularly areas relating to gender, ethnicity, sexuality and disability).

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Equality and Diversity Group Logo

I don’t know if whoever is reading this has ever had the displeasure of using multiple twitter accounts simultaneously. If you haven’t, it’s really tricky.


But sometimes a twitter event arrises, you send a couple of tweets, and before you know it, it’s 7pm and you’ve spent the entire day tweeting so much you’ve lost all concept of time, and which account you’re currently using! A recent example of this was #queermuseum Day – which discussed representation of LGBT+ communities in museum collections. After a few minutes into the day, my work station looked something like this:


My computer during a Twitter campaign....

My computer during a Twitter campaign….

I’ve never been more thrilled to have multiple screens – you need it when you’re tweeting from so many accounts…!


Surely this isn’t archaeology…? 

People still scoff when you say you mainly do archaeology on social media nowadays. After all, archaeology is about the stuff you can see, stuff you touch, stuff that has been dug out of the ground. To me, archaeology is simply; the study of the human past through what is left of material remains. This can come in the form of ceramics, ditches, burials and things traditionally dug out of the ground. It can come in the form of objects that are thousands of years old, that have been newly discovered, that haven’t been touched for centuries. This can also mean things that happened a few moments ago; the sweet wrapper on the floor, the remnants and litter of a protest; the stratigraphy of graffiti on a wall, or the tweets and discussions on social media.

Anything that has been used, touched, or changed by humans, regardless of when this happened, is archaeology. The other, perhaps less abstract idea of social media is that it’s a great communication tool. It’s a great way of reaching people – the #queermuseum hashtag was one of the top trends in the UK, which involved and reached a wide ranging group of people.

So my day in archaeology? This year it was spent on twitter, talking about #QueerMuseums, trying to diversify the heritage industry. It was spent educating people on how diverse our heritage actually is. It was spent trying to improve archaeology as profession. We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re on the right path….

For more information on the Equality and Diversity Group:

Visit our website:

Visit our Twitter: @CIfA_Equality

For more information on the Every DIG Sexism Project:

Visit our website:

Visit our Twitter: @everyDIGsexism