The statistics around the rate of women archeologists leaving the profession, and the field, can be staggering.
Approximately two-thirds of graduates from archeology Ph.D. programs are women, but they only represent only one-third of the nation’s tenured positions.
Similar statistics show that women consulting archeologists have strong representation in industry, but that that women are leaving the profession within five to 10 years.
“I have found that we regularly lose women from the field, and particular, there are less and less jobs in office positions and management positions, and many women leave early before realizing that there’s other opportunities for them,” said Fair Foundation founder and managing director of Circle CRM Group, Margarita de Guzman.
“In particular, I see as an employer with people who come in to interview and in their performance reviews, we see women are more reluctant to step up to the plate and take advantage of opportunities.”
Guzman along with other archeologists across the nation have formed the Calgary-based Fair Field Foundation in order to better advocate for women in the archeology profession.
The goal is to help mentor students, graduates and working archeologists, alongside providing networking opportunities and educational programming to foster career development.
“We want this program to cascade throughout universities and into high school, and across every consulting company and government regulatory body, because we have to make change from the inside out.”
Advocates for a better quality of life for archeologists
They are also working to advocate for changes to the way that fieldwork works, decreasing the number of continual days in a row archeologists would work at a field site.
“One of the biggest issues… is when you have a family, when you have small children, and you’re leaving to the field for 10 to 21 days at a time. Do you have the support network? And can you afford the childcare?”
“We’re trying to make it so that we don’t have to be in the field as often as archaeologists traditionally have had to be, so that we can maintain relationships, so that we can plan our life, so we can have a summer that doesn’t just involve fieldwork.”
She said that a fortunate few archeologists can get work close to where they live, and where their families and friends are located. The majority of jobs, however, involve going to remote sites many hours away from home.
Guzman said that a portion of this pressure comes from developers who are hiring consulting archeologists for construction sites to get the work done as quickly as possible.
“We’re trying to change the industry from the inside out by saying it doesn’t have to be like that, because if we treat our staff better, they are going to work harder, and the product is going to be better in the end.”
Foundation holding an event this January
The foundation is holding an upcoming online panel discussion, their first, on January 25 from 6 to 7 pm MST. Tickets for the event are free, and can be booked through Eventbrite at The Path to Success: Reflections From Women in Archaeology.
Fair Field has also launched a newsletter, which will help members stay current with what is going on with the foundation.
The annual archeological conference for Canada, this year being held in Nova Scotia, will also have a presence by the foundation.
“I’ll be proposing a session where women who maybe have not had a lot of experience presenting any kind of work that they’ve done, they can have an opportunity to present, and we’ll have a networking event as that as well.”
For more details on the Fair Field Foundation, and to get involved, see thefairfieldfoundation.com.