Key committees to have 30% women members by 2020

The Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell has announced new targets to promote stronger gender and racial representation on all key decision-making committees.

On gender, our targets for 2020 are to:

  • have at least 30% of either gender in all key University committees and boards, including the University Executive Board (UEB);
  • maintain the current baseline of at least 45% of either gender in the overall University Leadership Group – including UEB, Deans, Assistant Deans, Heads of School and Heads of Function;
  • have a gender-balanced professoriate, with at least 40% of professors of either gender. Current baseline is 30%;
  • reduce the pay gap that exists at senior (professorial and Grade 9) levels. Current baseline is 11% (there is no significant pay gap at other levels currently); and
  • achieve University-wide Athena SWAN Gender Charter Mark Silver level recognition, with all STEM Schools holding awards and all other Schools working towards Gender Equality Charter Mark  recognition.

See the full story to read more.


SAGES Gender and Fieldwork Conference – Storify

The SAGES Gender & Fieldwork Conference took place on Wednesday 28th April . This event was the culmination of a busy year of activities within the School, and celebrated fieldwork by staff and students from all disciplines. The conference included a panel discussion with contributions from former alumni, academics and professional fieldworkers including Sophie Bowlby, Gill Hey, John Carson, Amanda Clarke, Sophie Webb, Nick Branch, Natalie Clark and Ruth Harris.

Our staff and students began tweeting about their excitement before the start of the conference…


Vice-Chancellor message on diversity and inclusion

On 11th May the Vice-Chancellor published a message on diversity and inclusion.  To see the full statement follow this link –

‘We want talented women to rise top of the institution and to close the gender pay gap.  Real change will take time and will not happen overnight. We need to see big structural and cultural shifts within the University. But the case for change is unarguable. We have a diverse community and must do more to ensure that all students and employees fulfil their full potential and talent’


Supporting student mental health

The University counselling and wellbeing service offers short-term confidential support free of charge for all currently registered students. The support is provided through a variety of options including one-to one sessions with a counsellor or mental health advisor. All of the counsellors and mental health advisors are experienced, qualified professionals with backgrounds in counselling, psychology and mental health social work –

The service also provides email advice and support, and self-help leaflets with advice on dealing with a range of issues including depression and managing anxiety, as well as the life tools talks programme which include training to support wellbeing and develop resilience.

This term’s the University wellbeing’s activities include: life tools talks on getting a good night’s sleep and achieving your potential; basic tai chi for wellbeing; a mindfulness walk by the chaplaincy; weekly bread-making workshops at the chaplaincy; and advice on managing exam pressure. Some of the study advice sessions are also helpful.

Alongside these core wellbeing functions the counselling and wellbeing service trains students to act as peer supporters to provide guidance, signposting and lend a sympathetic ear to their fellow students. The counselling and wellbeing service works with colleagues across the University to provide training and support to groups such as the wardens, personal tutors and other front-line staff. The Counselling and Wellbeing Service also liaises with external agencies to provide a link between University and Primary and Secondary health care.


Mental Health Awareness Week 11-17th May

Every year, between 11-17 May, the Mental Health Foundation helps to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues. Since the first Mental Health Awareness Week back in 2000 they have helped generate public debates around how anxiety, sleep deprivation and exercise can impact our mental health. This year the focus is on Mindfulness.

The Mental Health Foundation website includes information about the event, and also resources for support –

There is also additional information on:

Mindfulness (the focus of Mental Health Awareness week) –

Mental Health Podcasts e.g. How to overcome fear and anxiety/Progressive relaxation for better sleep/Wellbeing and sleep etc –

At the start of Mental Health Awareness week the University of Reading’s fundraising team is also launching the Charlie Waller Fundraising Appeal. This campaign will raise money to further test and develop a pioneering new treatment, Brief Behavioural Action, which could transform the lives of thousands of young people with depression.


Trowelblazing Part 1: A career in the field

Amanda Clarke, our very own trowelblazer

Amanda Clarke, our very own trowelblazer

The Final Context How very rare it is to have the satisfaction of starting something…and then finishing it! I have worked on countless excavations since I began my fieldwork career…many I joined half way through, some I left half way through. Each was memorable in their distinctive way – but nothing quite matches up to my experience on the Silchester Field School. I began this in June 1997 with a JCB and a handful of excavators – and I finished 18 summers later in August 2014, with 130 excavators, a fleet of JCBs and dumpers, a barn full of finds and samples, 16,303 units of stratigraphy recorded – and a tearful Professor. What kind of journey has it been? (scroll down for some photos!)

Childhood ambition? I have always loved being in the field, and my job as Director of the Silchester Field School at the University of Reading has allowed me to combine this passion with a desire to teach the few things I know, and the chance to develop my managerial and organisational skills in ways I never dreamed possible….

Trowelblazing As a woman in fieldwork I have always taken the attitude that there is nothing I cannot do. My early days in commercial archaeology toughened me up quickly – leading an archaeological watching brief on the site of a multi-million pound multi-storey car-park on a cold December morning in the middle of York, surrounded by a team of hardened contractors intent on getting their job done – was a baptism of fire indeed. Women in site supervisory positions were a rarity in the 1990’s when I was leading teams…..there were women running the finds hut, the environmental aspects, the drawing office ….but outside in the crisp York air I was in a male dominated environment. I have always fought against any kind of ‘gender divide’ on my project teams – but that division does still cast a shadow. Sadly it is a self-perpetuating stereotype….trench work is often seen as ‘physical,’ mattock-wielding, trowel twirling work, whereas finds are all about housekeeping ‘pretty things’….still. 18 years of running the Silchester Field School gave me the opportunity to challenge these preconceptions and actually do something about them. And now that I have just finished running the biggest, boldest, brightest excavation on and in British soil (no bias showing here) – I am pleased to say I feel the scales tipping. In the final Silchester season 58% of participants were women, the majority of my Silchester Supervisors have been women, and the Department has an excellent track record of our female graduates working in commercial archaeology. It’s a good feeling.

Team Tactics Running the Silchester Field School has never been hard for me. Yes of course it is challenging in terms of sheer numbers of hours in the field, and on some of those days when nothing goes right…..the portaloo emptying lorry is stuck in the mud, half the students have a crippling summer cold, the site wifi has dissipated, a dozen tents have blown over, the pump for draining the water from a well under excavation has choked and stopped, 125 unbooked in visitors have arrived for a tour, I can’t find my coffee mug and context 14725 is not where I would like it to be stratigraphically…..But I instinctively know how to make it all work… is simply about the teams and the working environment you create. And the rest just follows. The archaeology may be a repetitive mix of wafer thin gravel layers – but it is still possible to teach and learn, to inspire and aspire.

Opportunity Knocks I love digging, I love excavations – wherever and whatever they may be – and my desire to communicate this passion can verge on the intimidating! I believe that attending an excavation is a life-altering experience – and everyone should try it at least once. My goal is to demonstrate that regardless of age, gender, skill, ability, aptitude, there are many many different experiences and opportunities an excavation can offer – something for everyone. Never think ‘I can’t’ – always think ‘how can I’.


Last day on the Silchester site

The final Silchester site tour

Challenge Amanda!

Challenge Amanda!

Some of our other trowelblazers!

Some of our other trowelblazers!

The Silchester Field School campsite

The Silchester Field School campsite

Working as a team: celebrating 10 seasons on site

Working as a team: celebrating 10 seasons on site

More to come from Amanda next week in Part 2!

Field archaeologist and trowelblazer!

Field archaeologist and trowelblazer!

A bit about today’s blogger: Amanda Clarke is a field archaeologist appointed by Reading University to help train its students in all aspects of field archaeology. She is Site Director for the Department of Archaeologys training excavation at the Roman town of Silchester, and for fieldwork in Pompeii, Italy. When not in the field she is involved in the post-excavation work for these projects. She has spent many years in the field, on sites all over the world including Norway, Beirut, Jamaica, Belize and the northern and western isles of Scotland. She has worked most recently for York Archaeological Trust on many of their large urban sites, as well as directing two seasons of work on the early Christian site of Whithorn in Galloway. She also works as a Teaching Fellow for the Department of Archaeology at Boston University on the student training excavations in Belize, Central America.