At Campus Archaeology, we are very passionate about what we do: archaeology. That passion inspires us to share our love of archaeology in all of its forms with you, our readers, and while we love sharing information, we also love engaging with all of you out there who read our blog posts, follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook. In an effort to generate more active conversations with you, our readers, we at Campus Archaeology have decided to institute Theme Weeks. For periods of approximately one week, we will be discussing via our social media outlets various themes related to archaeology. Worry not! We will continue to bring you the latest developments and headlines in the world of archaeology outside of the weekly themes. These themes are simply our way of generating thougth-provoking and stimulating conversation with and among our readers. With that, our inaugural theme to kick off theme weeks is…
Women in Archaeology!
As many of you may, or perhaps may not know, March is Women’s History Month. According to the official website, Women’s History Month “…had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as ‘Women’s History Week.’ Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as ‘Women’s History Week.’ In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as ‘Women’s History Month.’ Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as ‘Women’s History Month.'” It is a time to highlight the outstanding accomplishments and contributions of women (though they should be recognized on a continual basis, not just for the month of March).
In my career, I have been lucky enough to have worked with some amazing women, both as fellow students and as exceptional faculty members, many of whom have made significant contributions to the field of archaeology, or will go on to do so, in my opinion. Looking back, my initial interest in anthropology was piqued by an amazing, if unconventional high school anthropology teacher. In her summers, she participated in archaeological field excavation and encouraged me to do so as well. My first archaeology professor as an undergraduate was a fantastic woman who pointed me toward my first field school, which was co-directed by one of her female colleagues. As I grew and learned while an undergraduate, it is no stretch to say that the most influential faculty on my career were all women.
As a masters student, my entire cohort (short of myself, obviously) was female. Where the professors who instructed me as an undergraduate student taught me specific aspects of archaeology, at the graduate level I learned something equally valuable: how to work with other researchers. We all bonded very quickly and learned that each of us brought unique qualifications to bear on the research we were all undertaking, and that by working together, we could strengthen our individual work. I would be hard put to find a better group of people to have worked with, and am thoroughly grateful to have had my first experience in grad school with them.
Here at MSU, I am still privileged to be working with some exceptional female archaeologists. I need not look any farther afield than CAP itself. I work with seven amazing and diverse archaeologists, all of whom are women. Each brings an individual perspective and background which is utterly unique unto themselves, making CAP an intellectually diverse and creative environment. Led by one of the most influential mortuary archaeologists in the field, Dr. Lynne Goldstein, our little group at CAP consists of a bioarchaeologist working in Belize, a forensic anthropologist-turned-mortuary-archaeologist who works in the Midwestern United States, two amazing Africanist archaeologists who work in Botswana and west-central Africa, respectively, a North Americanist archaeologist who focuses in Northern Michigan, and a mortuary/bioarchaeologist who works in Britain. Quite a group, right? Each and every one is an exceptional archaeologist in her own right, and collectively, they are a blast to work with.
As we move through our themes, we invite our readers to think about what these topics mean to you as an individual and to share that with us and our other readers via Twitter, Facebook, or right here in the comments section of our CAP blog. Have you had an especially significant female archaeology professor who changed your perspectives on archaeology? Are you a practicing female archaeologist, and how do you view the field? Are you a female student considering archaeology and curious about what professional life is like for women in the discipline? You could certainly get some great answers from our CAP staff on that front!
For me, I can say with absolute certainty that I would not be who I am today as an archaeologist without the influence of my female colleagues, teachers, and mentors.
Author: Andy LoPinto