Scottish meet up for British Women Archaeologists – What we learnt, where can we go from here?
Cara Jones ACIfA 6085
In response to a Facebook request for potential regional locations for a networking event, in June of this year I volunteered to organise a Scottish meet up for British Women Archaeologists (BWA hereafter). There seemed to be a lot of interest in a Scottish event, so I was more than happy to help set this up. Through discussion with the brilliant Anne Teather and Rachel Pope (BWA founders), I booked a space (free space in a bar) set up an email address and eventbrite page – all very easy and quick tasks. We had nine bookings, five individuals turned up (two got stuck on a train), two were unable to attend.
The meeting itself was extremely useful – we heard about Anne and Rachel’s past work with BWA and where that fitted within other gender equality campaigns like ‘Athena SWAN’ (have a look at Rachel and Anne’s paper at the 2015 CIfA Conference, ‘Are we a profession yet? Archaeology and equity’, Access Archaeology You Tube channel for more information). What was interesting was that they had found that arranging regular meetings was difficult – especially if you cover the whole of the country, they had more success engaging with women and providing support by utilising digital platforms (like Facebook or Twitter).
I’m not sure why but I was a little shocked at the hostility towards the meeting. Some of this hostility was expressed to me in person, some I had heard second hand. I think, like much of our profession, many feel that if they haven’t experienced it, there isn’t a problem. I don’t believe that, and I am sure many of here today don’t believe that either. Regardless of what we may or may not have experienced directly – we should all be working together to make sure everyone is treated equally in the workplace – regardless of gender, race or background.
As I mentioned above, I received some lovely responses from women and men from around Scotland who were interested in attending but couldn’t get to Edinburgh/make that mid-week date but who are interested in attending future events. The women that did attend were fantastic – we shared some great stories and experiences, and I got to meet Rachel and Anne who have done some brilliant work over the last few years. Anne have me some excellent BWA pens!
I had thought that the meeting may be the first of many – regular meet ups with like-minded women who could perhaps mentor each other through work related gender based issues. However taking into account the small numbers who attended and the difficulty of travelling to meetings, I am now not so sure that would have been a good idea! One great outcome is that those who did engage with the meeting (either by directly attending or by getting in touch via email) are now known to each other. I have since had many conversations about the meeting and wider issues – we are beginning to network. Yes, I think I now have a ‘gender equality label’ but I’m ok with that!