In pictures: Women Create Change

British documentary photographer Alison Baskerville is displaying her latest work at the Oxford Festival of Arts. This exhibition highlights pioneering women of the 21st century who are connected to the Oxford area.  The BBC News website is currently showcasing some of her work.

“The conversation around equality and representation has never been stronger,” says Ms Baskerville. “In meeting these women I realised that we are a society obsessed with gender and capability. “These women prove that this is only a small factor in the path to become change makers and that their success is down to determination, focus, passion and love. “This is something that we can all learn from, regardless of our gender.”

Susan Greenfield: Neuroscientist and first female director of the Royal Institution

Susan Greenfield: Neuroscientist and first female director of the Royal Institution (photograph by Alison Baskerville)

Nobel scientist Tim Hunt: female scientists cause trouble for men in labs

Tim Hunt, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Medicine has addressed the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, South Korea to argue that men and women should not work together in science labs.  He argued that gender-segregated labs are essential. “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls … three things happen when they are in the lab … You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry.”

See more about this news story in the Guardian -”Hunt’s words have also been roundly criticised by female scientists on Twitter. One woman, a postdoctoral researcher, tweeted: “For every Tim Hunt remark, there’s an extra woman in science that takes an interest in feminism. Ever wonder why there are so many of us?”










What do you think about these comments?

Queens of Meroe

At Easter I spent 2 weeks in North Sudan on a “busman’s holiday” on an archaeological project with Professor Anna Boozer of City University New York, and formerly a lecturer of Roman Colonialism here at the Archaeology department. I had worked with Anna at Amheida Egypt in 2013, and the original plan for the Easter holidays had been to go back there for another season of digging and recording at the domestic Egypto-Roman house. Sadly, but unsurprisingly given the political climate, we could not get a permit to work there this year, so Anna quickly organised an alternative season on her other project at Meroe – A Royal City of the Kingdom of Kush on the east bank of the river Nile, 4 hours drive North of Khartoum. This project had been conceived by the University of Reading Internationalisation Team, with collaboration with the University of Khartoum.

A meal at the dig house1

A meal at the dig house










The aim of the Meroe Archival Project, as it is known, is to record artefacts (and for me, to draw them) excavated by the late Peter Shinnie, in the latter half of the 20th century. He published many of his excavations, but being very prolific in excavating, he did not publish everything. Anna is keen to excavate there herself, but feels she must first record and publish what she can from Shinnie’s backlog. Other archaeological teams have been excavating there extensively over the years too, and it all comes across as rather ad hock. Anna is also looking at Meroe on behalf of UNESCO. The artefacts reside in both a crumbling old dig house at Meroe, where we worked and resided for 5 days, on the edge of the Royal City itself, and also at the Khartoum Archaeological Museum.

Mozzie nets in the bedroom

Mozzie nets in the bedroom











I had a long journey via Doha where I arrived in the middle of the night with 7 hours to wait for my connection to Khartoum, and chatted to 2 interesting shop assistants, a young man from the Philippines, and a young woman from China minding a shop selling $20,000 Chanel watches (yes I tried one on, and it didn’t suit me), who wanted to know about dating (non-archaeological dating) in the UK; who pays for dinner, the man or the woman (in China it is always the man), and we discussed gender issues in general. I had been in the thick of editing the Gender and Fieldwork videos for the last couple of weeks so it was a hot topic for me.

Anna and the altar

Anna and the altar











So now I come to the point of why I offered to write a Gender and Fieldwork blog post about this trip. Our team comprised of 5 women. Anna and Liz (Americans) recording small finds, Angela (Italian), also a small finds specialist and specialising in faience, Hannah, a Sudanese student placement learning a variety of tasks and worth her weight in gold for her translation skills, and myself, drawing what was put in front of me. The stereotype is that finds specialists are more often than not, female. Our Sudanese student happened to be female but we didn’t know who we were getting, and last year it was a young man. I doubt that there was any deliberate selection of an all-female team by Anna, other than for logistical (room sharing) reasons, but essentially the team comprised of 4 friends who had worked together on numerous occasions and were not only a known quantity professionally, but a guaranteed fun social mix. We are all multi-skilled archaeological fieldworkers as well as finds specialists.

Hannah the student

Hannah the student














Personally, I have never worked on an all-female team before. I grew up the daughter of a scout leader and spent every summer holiday from 6 months old to 16 being the only girl amongst a group of 20 or so boys. I was consequently very competitive and determined to be faster at the assault course than the lot of them, and quite a tomboy. Our Meroe project consisted of like-minded, independent no-nonsense, shisha smoking, adventurous women, amongst whom there was a lot of support, both work wise and personally. In particular, I felt very much cared for as I developed a horrendous cold within hours of arriving at the Meroe dig house, which within a week developed into sinusitis. I was given a constant supply of vitamins and drugs, Carcady tea, fresh lemon and sugar, cough sweets, and finally a course of antibiotics by my kind nurses as I drew finds with tissues stuffed up my nose for fear of dripping on my drawings. We worked seriously hard during the day to record as many finds of the categories that Anna aims to publish this year and at mealtimes and in the evening we laughed a lot about absurd things and talked about archaeology (of course) but also about cats, weddings and hair! I observed this with the Gender stereotype in the forefront of my mind, with some amusement. Well, we all own cats, Anna is getting married in a few months time and is in the midst of planning, and people always talk about hair when I’m around. We also met up with a few interesting ex-pats working on humanitarian and environmental projects, all of whom happened to be men. At these gatherings we gossiped about functions at the various Embassies, discussed the virtues of a good whisky, and talked about our work.

Me and the pyramids

Me and the pyramids













I am aware how little I have talked about the work, or Sudan or the archaeology in this blog, but I fear I have already written 1000 words, so the rest will have to be described in photographs. I will just end by saying that the best thing about Sudan is the people. They are so friendly and welcoming to foreigners. They don’t get many foreign visitors and look at you with friendly curiosity. Sudanese women seem to have equality. We met many women working in quite senior roles at the museum, and female university students, but needless to say, the head of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage is not a woman. In Meroe however, women were powerful rulers: Wikipedia says: Candace of Meroë is a legendary queen of the Kingdom of Kush and Queen of Nubia. The legend says that she defeated Alexander the Great when he tried to conquer territories south of Egypt. Another story claims that Alexander and Candace had a romantic encounter.” Perhaps there is some confusion with 2 other Romano- North-African characters, but then, us girls love a bit of historical romance…? !


Sarah_Lucas_1513_wA bit about today’s blogger: Sarah Lambert-Gates

Sarah has worked in graphics and archaeological illustration for 16 years, and started her career as a field archaeologist. She teaches Illustration of artefacts on a Part 2 Archaeology module; Techniques in Artefact Interpretation, and Archaeological Graphics for Masters students. She has also worked as a supervisor at the Silchester Town Life Project since1998.

Sarah has worked full time for the University of Reading since September 2011. Prior to this, she worked for Oxford Archaeology, starting as a field archaeologist, and culminating as the Senior Illustrator for a busy Graphics office. During this time she was lead illustrator in a number of large publications, including the Thames Through Time series (which was a finalist in the British Archaeological Book of the Year awards), and Under the Oracle.

Subjects’ gender balance not reflected in grant applications

‘Only two research councils have equal proportion of female applicants and academics.’  The full article by Holly Else can be seen here –

‘Women make up 51 per cent of the academic population working in subjects covered by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, yet only 40 to 44 per cent of all grant applications came from women between 2011-12 and 2013-14, according to the data.

This compares with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, for example, where the Hesa data show that just 16 per cent of academics in relevant disciplines are female, but despite this, 12 to 14 per cent of grant applications came from women. The only councils to have a similar proportion of female grant applicants to that of female academics were the Economic and Social Research Council and the Science and Technology Facilities Council.’


UCU calls for wage audits as gender pay gap endures

Analysis in THE reveals progress in closing the wage gap, but female academics still earn nearly £6K less than men.  The full article by Jack Grove can be seen here –

‘Female academics are still paid about £5,700 less than male scholars on average despite progress in recent years to close the gender pay gap, figures show.’



Research Councils Diversity Data

Research Council UK have recently published high level data on grant and fellowship applications, awards and success rates by gender, age and ethnicity.  All data was generated over the last three financial years 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 and reported as both numbers and as percentages.

The seven UK Research Councils are:
◦Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC);
◦Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC);
◦Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC);
◦Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC);
◦Medical Research Council (MRC);
◦Natural Environment Research Council (NERC);
◦Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

The full report can be accessed here –

research council




Below is a small section of the NERC data:-

‘The data shows little difference in the success rates for grant applications when analysed by gender, suggesting that NERC assessment processes are largely free from gender bias. However, the numbers of applications show a significantly higher proportion of male applicants – in the region of 80%/20%. This is only partially explained by the eligible population, as described in the HESA data, which suggests a slightly higher population of women than is reflected in the application data.’


Pay gap worse in industry for women with PhDs

Research by Ute Schulze (a Research Assistant at the University of Freiburg) has found that ‘female PhD holders who leave academia face a larger gender wage gap that those who stay in University research.’

Holly Else discusses the research in an article published today (12th March 2015) in the Times Higher –

‘Analysing the results of more than 1,000 respondents, Ms Schulze found that, on average, women with a PhD earned almost £5,000 less than men 42 months after graduation. This gap is “driven almost entirely” by the pay premium men enjoy outside academia, she says in the paper, The gender wage gap among PhDs in the UK.’


Clever girls, stupid boys?

On 5th March 2015 Sean Coughlan (BBC Education Correspondent) explored education and gender stereotypes in his article – ‘Clever girls, stupid boys?’

‘Clever girls, stupid boys. That’s become something of a modern educational orthodoxy, as girls across the developed world are more likely to get top exam grades and university places.  The gap is so great that the UK’s university admissions authority has warned that being male could soon be seen as a new form of social disadvantage.’

clever girls

Clever girls lack confidence in science and maths

Today BBC Education Correspondent Sean Coughlan reports – ‘Girls still lack confidence in pursuing high-paid careers in science and technology, even when their school results are as good or better than boys.’

‘Mr Schleicher, the OECD’s education director, argues that it is not “about men and women doing similar work for different pay, but about men and women pursuing different careers”.

In particular, he says women are still “severely under-represented” in jobs related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which can be among the highest earning careers. He says that “gender differences in self-confidence” could be the key difference. Even though girls might achieve better academic results, there is still a reluctance to apply for jobs.

There were also findings that parents were more likely to push boys towards careers in science and technology. “We may have lost sight of important social and emotional dimensions of learning that may be far more predictive for the future life choices of children,” said Mr Schleicher.’

A lack of self-confidence is a factor in whether women apply for jobs in science and technology, says study

A lack of self-confidence is a factor in whether women apply for jobs in science and technology, says study

Is Gender Still Relevant?

In September 2014 a conference discussing ‘Is gender still relevant?’ took place at the University of Bradford.

Dr Karina Croucher was conference lead, having secured funding from the British Academy. Karina is a Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Bradford. Her research interests include Funerary Archaeology, Archaeological Theory, Prehistory, Identity, gender and personhood, as well as interdisciplinary research into death and dying and end of life care. She is author of Death and Dying in the Neolithic Near East (2012, Oxford University Press).






The ‘Is Gender Still Relevant?’ seminar, sponsored by the British Academy, examined the state of play in gender research in the historic disciplines, and asked if (and why) we still need to debate gender issues, including feminism, masculism and gender fluidity. Despite over 30 years of campaigning and policy, why does gender remain a key issue today?

The event discussed both research and academic practice and welcomed participation from all career stages, particularly early career scholars. They were also keen on perspectives from all genders – this isn’t just about women!

You can find out more about the event following this link –

RGilchrist_wThe Introduction to the event by Roberta Gilchrist (Head of School) can be seen here –