First Review for Built on Bones!

So, I spent this week doing a lot of things. One of my favorites was freaking about my photoshopped proximity to lifetime hero author Neil ...

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Here follows a repost from the excellent MSU Capblog - check them out here!

Hello MSU! And hello followers of this blog. Since I fall into the former category, it's very cool to be asked to share a little bit about what has become a fairly all-consuming obsession project: TrowelBlazers. If you don't know us, please come be our friend. Or not, you know, it's cool.

The TrowelBlazers project is a born-on-twitter idea that took off from a handful of early career academics (post docs all) who joined in the general academic-internet wide horror at the type of 'inspirational' material produced by major research funders to encourage women to participate in science. If for some reason you missed the utterly patronising travesty that was the European Commision produced 'Science: It's a Girl Thing', please do feel free to watch it now. I'll wait.

Squirm inducing, right? I think what as a group we shared was the feeling that there was something particularly galling in the visual representation of women 'scientists' - that the only girls could ever be inspired to achieve academically would be by highlighting their sexual attractiveness.

This did. not. sit. well.

So, we started talking. We started googling. We asked twitter, facebook, friends, colleagues, and ourselves: did you have a role model? Was there an inspirational figure whose story you cant believe more people don't know about? What would a real inspirational woman look like? And wow, was there a response, both dug up by ourselves and submitted to our website. We trawled archives to find that same arresting visual 'wow' that, presumably, was what the EU video was after. And we found it, but we found it in pictures and drawings of real women, who had real contributions to the trowel-wielding disciplines (archaeology, geology, and palaeontology), and who had real and tangible effects on the women who followed in their footsteps. 

Virginia Grace
Image: American School of
Classical Studies
at Athens: Agora Excavations
Hilda Petrie
Image: EES Flicker

In a world where equal pay, equal opportunity, and gender balance in professional positions is still a long way off, the TrowelBlazers project hopes to be just a bit of a (very lighthearted) reminder that women have made amazing contributions to our fields, and even if they were denied the careers their male contemporaries had, they still, just by forging on, mentoring, guiding, and supporting the next generation, made a huge contribution to getting women out into the dirt.

Guest post by Brenna Hassett (@brennawalks) , on behalf of Team TrowelBlazers.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Ok! Got distracted by other academic commitments, so fell off the #blogarch wagon for a bit, but back on for March and Doug's final question:

 where are you/we going with blogging or would you it like to go? 

"Where do we go from here?
Is it down to the lake I fear. 
Ay ay ay ay ay ay..."

Or, as several of my colleagues would put it, why am I wasting my time writing non-peer reviewed anything? Why would I share anything about my work when people could find out and use it themselves, without giving me credit? I've encountered time and again the repetitive mantra that blogging is at best a waste of time, and at worst an ego-stroking, publicity-seeking exercise carried out by those who just can't hack 'real' academic research.


This does rather beg the question - why bother?

Well, one answer is, I increasingly don't. My personal blog languishes as research projects that really can't be discussed publicly (by request of the PI, but also because I work with medical data and that is a big no-no) take over my time. What was once an outlet for side projects I couldn't see leading to publication (looking at you, augmented reality skulls!) is now almost solely about communicating the experience of being an early career researcher. Because the field project I've been working on already has it's own fantastic blog, I don't feel I have to share that side of my work in a new forum. And finally, nothing in the news recently has pissed me off enough to write out a sarcastic rant

Of course, if you know me under my other identity, as 1/4 of Team TrowelBlazers, you also know I'm totally lying when I say I don't blog as much. I blog ALL THE TIME. A post a week, for a year, on awesome fantastically-be-hatted, snake-wearing, Olympic-fencing women archaeologists, geologists, and palaeontologists.* But the difference there is that the TrowelBlazers project is very much a community thing. Very loosely 'run' by a group of early career researchers, it's a very public-participatory experience: people submit posts almost as often as one of our team writes one. We've got short-form communications like twitter and facebook underpinning a larger community who are all talking to each other, which means our 'blog' is more of a forum than a missive. 

So, as I see it, a personal blog is nice, like a tl,dr twitter archive, or even a public journal. But aside from letting me vent, I'm not sure how much I get out of it. On the flip side is the TrowelBlazers project, which I get enormous amounts out of - energy, enthusiasm, community, networks, support, pictures of women climbing into tombs in very large hats, you name it. The difference is in the level of interaction, and at the end of the day, no one wants to be caught talking to themselves.

* not all at the same time.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

As it's #MuseumWeek in the world defined by the extent of hashtags this week, I thought I could follow up on @HenryRothwell's suggestion that I, ahem, explain myself. Or rather, I explain this photo:

I've managed to bring home my very own permanent installation, formerly a statue in the Natural History Museum Earth Gallery. It used to live amongst its fellows, God/Babbage, Atlas, Spaceman, Cyclops, and another one I've forgotten. Poseidon maybe.

I'm not saying it was easy. The statue clocked in at 2.65 meters, which necessitated a large van-

And several brave folk to lift it (this is why it comes in handy to know a lot of archaeologists. They don't shirk manual labour!)

But with a few hacksaw-and-hammer based modifications, we managed it. And while the exhibition space may be changing, at least I will always have a permanent and terrifying memory of my life at the museum :)

Trivia (personal)

archaeologist. dental anthropologist. yes, that's a real thing. Author of Built on Bones, available in February 2017 (UK), May 2017 (USA) from Bloomsbury.



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