I went to the Chartered Institute for Archaeology’s annual conference in Cardiff last week. It was a well attended event in a nice venue. Although there were no bone talks, there were plenty of other interesting topics. I was particularly interested in the ‘capacity building’ session. Are there going to be enough archaeologists for the future and enough specialists being trained up ? Some specialisms like osteology are well provided for, plenty of Masters courses in forensic archaeology, osteology etc. Although, as I was recently reminded, newly graduated students lack the hands-on experience and struggle to get it within the current commercial system. Other specialisms, small finds or ceramics for instance, there is no course you can go on and not many mentors to help you learn.
There was also a very lively session on gender in archaeology. I was particularly interested in the talks by other parents who have braved the perils of commercial archaeology. Statistically there is a drop in the numbers of female archaeologists when they reach their 30s. This has been directly attributed to becoming a parent. As I know from personal experience, it isn’t easy balancing childcare and site work. I have often said, that if building sites had a crèche I would be able to pick up my trowel once more and re-enter fieldwork.
The gender discussion got particularly animated when discussing daily sexism experienced by female archaeologists. There were some very entertaining anecdotes, but in all seriousness, it is a huge issue for the industry. Twitter has a hashtag #everydigsexism if you want to share your experiences. There was also a request to start a CIfA special interest group for ‘equality and diversity’.
All in all I really enjoyed the day, especially catching up with some old acquaintances.