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British Women Archaeologists Membership
Whilst it would be nice if someone from BWA were able to respond to Tom's concernsimmediately, I too am happy to wait until Tuesday to clarify this matter.

Irrespective of the answer I will still affiliate to this group, because I think that gender politics is an important issue in the archaeological workplace. I would also be happy to affiliate to an archaeological gay and/or lesbian group for the same reason and would genuinely be interested in a 'mens' group, if that too was centred on addressing the problems arising from gender politics in the workplace.

It seems as if BWA has already succeeded in at least starting a debate on this subject....and maybe the issues raised here would be very suitable for a general discussion forum within that group.

Quote:quote:Originally posted by Oxbeast
If the BWA can help to have the existing employment/health and safety law enforced it would be a great start for them.
Here's an idea:
The first thing to do is get hold of every company's H&S and equal opportunities policies (just ask them), and see what they stand for; maybe make helpful suggestions if they are not acknowledging legislation they should be etc. or if there are ways they could be meeting their obligations more easily. Then, make sure all workers have access to those policies. Then, support anyone who feels the policies aren't being upheld.

This should be possible in an open, above-board and friendly fashion, and is the sort of thing where BWA can help companies to meet their own aspirations. I'm reasonably sure that a lot more failings are due to overworked project managers than sexist project managers.

Obviously, it needs to be done with a fair bit of tact; don't want to alienate people who are doing their best.
Tom, you've obviously not worked for the same units that I have! Yes, I too have attended to feminine hygiene behind a leafless hedge in the rain, gone without drinking for the whole of the working day to minimise my embarrassment, and climbed down the side of a drain out in the Fens to relieve myself crouching at the edge of the water, as this was the only place for twenty miles in any direction where I wouldn't be skylined. It all depends on your stroppiness-to-diligence ratio. If you complain about the lack of facilities - and to be fair, you can hardly expect your employer to hire a bog for every one-person watching brief, particularly when the company doesn't have a start date until the developer phones up and says 'we're starting topsoiling tomorrow' - you're told 'well, if there's no facilities on site, then leave the site and look for some'. I have never actually tried packing up all my kit, carrying it half a mile back to wherever I'm parked, and then driving till I find a settlement with a public lavatory every time nature calls, but I know other women who have. If you're on a watching brief in the middle of nowhere, of course, this exercise can take about two hours, during which time the contractors are up to who knows what. My girly tip is a hooded camouflage jacket that hangs down to your knees - remove hard hat and hi-vi, pull up hood, nip behind bush and nobody can see you even from five feet away, because the jacket covers your shiny white legs and bum.
May I add to that, when you take off your hi-viz (and possibly) hard hat, leave it well positioned at least 30m from your chosen spot as it will distract a casual glance.

I never developed the habit of embarrasment and if men haven't realised by now that women pee too then them finding out is only to the good.

(It reminds me of a conversation I once overheard in a pub where a bloke was telling his mate that women didn't have naturally hairless legs!)
I must admit to being sceptical at first about the need for BWA and how affective it could be, but with reading posts by deposit-it,oldgirl,underscore,hosty then yeah there is a strong need for such a group,and good luck to them!!
Windbag and Underscore, my apologies for sounding so negative in my post, I now think you was both right.
'Just by being a man, it is hard to understand', is complete rubbish and highly offensive, I'm afraid. To set up any organisation ostensibly working for equality on foundations of inequality is hypocritical and doomed to failure. To quote Schlesinger (taken from the wikipedia article on identity politics): basing politics on group marginalization fractures the civil polity, and therefore works against creating real opportunities for ending marginalization. My first reaction when reading this thread was to leave well alone: better not get involved as I'll get pilloried if I say anything contentious, because I'm a man, aren't I. There you go: identity politics; my genes above my ideas. It doesn't have to be that way though.


Okay, I'll try to assist here.

There are archaeological groups and people could have set up such discussion before; they haven't. We could have an equality officer at the IFA; the last time I looked there wasn't one though appreciate it may be different now.

Tom, to be honest you seem very passionate about wanting to be involved - so do! Simply not hearing women talk about how they've had horrible experiences shouldn't detract from everything else we're trying to do. But really, some women (new starters) may really need practical assistance in dealing with issues in the field they don't want to raise in front of men. Why? Because once you're objectified or feel victimised you feel ashamed, and we just want a safe place for women to talk to other women which is easily accessible. In the way there are female only shelters for abused women... sexism is a form of abuse (and it's not just men who've made comments to women). Does that trump equality theory? In my mind it does.

In the BWA steering committee we often disagree and challenge each other until we feel we're getting it right. Forums like this exist for everyone... and we should talk about these issues more. But I think that you should see the women's only forum as a moaning place rather than a place where things will be decided.... I could see you feeling cross if you thought that.

Hope that helps


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