TrowelBlazers: Women in Archaeology, Guest Post by Brenna Hassett

Author: Brenna Hassett

Hello MSU! And hello followers of this blog. Since I fall into the former category, it’s very cool to be asked to share a little bit about what has become a fairly all-consuming obsession project: TrowelBlazers. If you don’t know us, please come be our friend. Or not, you know, it’s cool.

The TrowelBlazers project is a born-on-twitter idea that took off from a handful of early career academics (post docs all) who joined in the general academic-internet wide horror at the type of ‘inspirational’ material produced by major research funders to encourage women to participate in science. If for some reason you missed the utterly patronising travesty that was the European Commision produced ‘Science: It’s a Girl Thing’, please do feel free to watch it now. I’ll wait.

Squirm inducing, right? I think what as a group we shared was the feeling that there was something particularly galling in the visual representation of women ‘scientists’ – that the only girls could ever be inspired to achieve academically would be by highlighting their sexual attractiveness.

This did. not. sit. well.

So, we started talking. We started googling. We asked twitter, facebook, friends, colleagues, and ourselves: did you have a role model? Was there an inspirational figure whose story you cant believe more people don’t know about? What would a real inspirational woman look like? And wow, was there a response, both dug up by ourselves and submitted to our website. We trawled archives to find that same arresting visual ‘wow’ that, presumably, was what the EU video was after. And we found it, but we found it in pictures and drawings of real women, who had real contributions to the trowel-wielding disciplines (archaeology, geology, and palaeontology), and who had real and tangible effects on the women who followed in their footsteps.

Gertrude BellImage: Gertrude Bell Archive,
Newcastle University
Hilda PetrieImage: EES Flicker

Virginia GraceImage: American School of Classical Studies at Athens: Agora Excavations

In a world where equal pay, equal opportunity, and gender balance in professional positions is still a long way off, the TrowelBlazers project hopes to be just a bit of a (very lighthearted) reminder that women have made amazing contributions to our fields, and even if they were denied the careers their male contemporaries had, they still, just by forging on, mentoring, guiding, and supporting the next generation, made a huge contribution to getting women out into the dirt.

Guest post by Brenna Hassett (@brennawalks) , on behalf of Team TrowelBlazers.

1 thought on “TrowelBlazers: Women in Archaeology, Guest Post by Brenna Hassett”

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