By Blair Zaid The roles for women in the academy are ever expanding. We continue to achieve high levels positions in institutions that have been exceptionally male dominated. However, one role continues to be a bit daunting for women in the academy and particularly archaeology: …
Part II: By Blair Zaid and Erica Dziedzic The roles for women in the academy are ever expanding. We continue to achieve high levels positions in institutions that have been exceptionally male dominated. However, one role continues to be a bit daunting for …
My decision to have children came at a time when my graduate career as an archaeologist started to move forward. I had successfully defended my dissertation proposal and I wrote several dissertation research grants in a very short timespan. I also had high hopes of spending a year in Peru doing fieldwork for my dissertation. But sometimes, the best experiences in life are the ones that cause you to veer off your chosen course. As a new mother, this path led me to take a break from my research and devote myself to stay-at-home motherhood for two and a half years.
I felt fortunate that I had the opportunity to stay at home with my infant daughter, but when she was two years old, I decided it was time to finish my dissertation. This transition back to archaeology and academia, while exciting, also inadvertently started a “crash of confidence”. I had spent the last two years changing diapers and watching Sesame Street. When I reconnected with my archaeology friends and professors I found that I had forgotten most of the lingo and skills that I once considered second nature. I am currently re-learning everything about archaeology and my research. It often feels like I am a first year graduate student all over again, except this time with a toddler firmly, and constantly, wrapped around my leg.
During this second go-around at building a career as an archaeologist, I have been reading about other women, some archaeologists and some not, who are mothers following their passions. In the book, Opting In: Having a Child Without Losing Yourself, Amy Richards dispenses some valuable advice: decide what you want, OWN it, and build a support network to achieve it. I argue that building a supportive network is most crucial because as a mother, accomplishing your own goals is best with help from a trusted, reliable community. Furthermore, one cannot build a supportive community without speaking up and sharing experiences. Being an archaeologist in academia comes with special demands that are not realized in most career choices. There are the daily demands, such as articles to write and classes to teach. Moreover, the demands of fieldwork and conference attendance can mean frequent and extended trips away from home. Being a mother comes with its own unique demands and responsibilities; my daughter loves, adores, and tortures me in a way that is unmatched by her relationship with other loved ones in her life. This often means late nights, early mornings, and special time devoted to her regardless of any deadlines that may be looming for me. As a single woman, I could handle the demands of my budding career. However, once I became a mother, I had doubts as to whether I could be both a mother and an archaeologist – the requirements of both seemed too much. To say that mothers need support, is not to say that mothers are weak – quite the contrary; it is to say that no one should mother alone. In our community, as archaeologists navigating the rigors of academia and as graduate students learning the ropes, it is important that mothers talk about their experiences without feeling chastised.
My daughter is now three years old and I am pregnant with our second child. Currently, I am writing my dissertation and active in public outreach. I am very lucky to have a supportive spouse, my family, my friends, my professors, and colleagues. Recently, I had my first experience of the collision of my family life and professional life when I was late to a meeting because my daughter threw a tantrum because she didn’t know how to use dental floss. This is the first of many collisions, I am sure. Archaeologists who are parents go through this (and worse) all the time; they survive, move on, and go about their day. It is knowing that we are not alone in the daily process of career and family life that is important.
Generally when you think of archaeology, you think of slinging dirt in 100 degree heat with the sun’s rays beating down on your broad rimmed hat. While I’ve had many a summer excavations like this, Campus Archaeology does not always have the option of scheduling …
The last two weeks began our first official start to summer survey and excavation. We have lots of projects this summer to juggle, so we will be bouncing around campus trying to get to them all. Here are some updates from the work we did last week and a couple announcements about where we will be this week.
Two Weeks Ago: Jenison Field House
During this first week of summer survey we did shovel testing in the green areas to the north and west of Jenison field house. We also did a quick walking survey along the river to check for artifacts.
Last Week: Training for New Peoples, Jenison Field House, Adams Field Sidewalks and Training for FRIB
Our week began with a training day for all the new workers, other then myself we have a completely new team from the one we had last year. Our new team includes two undergraduate students, a graduate student and alumni of the Anthropology department. We did a historic tour of campus and visited each of the construction sites we will be working on this summer. Following this, we discussed the summer and went other the proper methods for doing Campus Archaeology summer work.
The work began at Jenison Field House. They are replacing the parking lot and sidewalks here, but we only need to survey the latter. In preparation for this we did some survey around the area, checking out the green space between the sidewalks. We didn’t find anything exciting but we did get interviewed by Channel 10 news!
Our next day of work we were out at Adams Field checking out the sidewalks between the Music Building and Cowles House. They are currently replacing the sidewalks in this area with new ‘green’ sidewalks that are made of recycled MSU glass. You can learn more about this cool initiative here: “Even the concrete is green”. Again, we didn’t find too much although there were some nice square cut nails and a portion of an industrial clay pipe.
Our week ended with us doing a safety training with FRIB (Facility for Rare Isotope Beam). As you can tell driving down Wilson by Bogue, they are working hard to move forward on constructing their new buildings. We will be working with them on a number of projects, but right now we are monitoring their progress on creating the power source for the buildings. It is an exciting project to be a part of, and we are looking forward to it.
This Upcoming Week: Jenison Field House and MSU Museum Sidewalks
This week we have two projects we will be jumping between. The first is the Jenison parking lot where we will be starting to survey underneath the sidewalks. We will be beginning this project today around 12pm and will be out there for the afternoon. Then tomorrow and the next day we will be in the Sacred Space area to the North of the MSU Museum working on sidewalks and potentially checking out some green space if we have time.
As always, feel free to come out and visit us, and follow our progress on twitter @capmsu! Just look for the green flag!
This summer, Campus Archaeology is going to be very busy doing archaeological surveys and monitoring various construction projects. There are eight different projects occurring over the summer that we will be a part of in some manner. Over the past couple months we’ve been meeting …