Female archaeologists wonder: is there really systemic sexism within our faculty?
There are no Andrew Tate-like misogynistic monsters roaming the corridors of our faculty, only hard working and passionate academics, write eight female archaeologists, who don't recognise the image of institutionalised gender discrimination.
Thursday 13 June 2024
British archaeologist Hilda Mary Isabel Petrie (1871-1957) descends into an Egyptian tomb. Photo Egypt Exploration Society

It is quite something: sexual harassment, gender discrimination and sexism, not only with impunity, but rewarded, and not incidentally, but structurally at the Faculty of Archaeology. We work there with great pleasure and read this with amazement: is this about our faculty?

 Since the publication of the report on ‘the case’, as we have come to call it here, we have been reminiscing about many events from decades of faculty history, ranging from striking to very mundane. At the coffee machine, past joys and sorrows have been shared, but we did not detect the structurally woman-unfriendly atmosphere which an opinion piece in Mare talks about. Is mansplaining, as the charge states, at meetings warp and weft? Do we have a well-known colleague we should avoid by all means, as he cannot resist putting a hand on a female arm? And is there 'dangerous sexual behaviour'?

Colleagues cautiously ask whether they might have been lying under a rock or existed in a bubble, and whether they were the only ones who did not get the ‘sexist culture’ at all.

‘To state that the the current faculty oozes misogyny puts all female staff in a victim role’

If it's not in the office, is it about our fieldwork? All faculty fieldwork projects have an elaborate Code of Conduct in place with all possible checks and balances to prevent the cases the author of the letter is talking about. Moreover, there is close cooperation between the Faculty Council, the student advisers and the Field Research Education Centre ensure better mechanisms for reporting problems in external field projects as well.
Some are angry, others sad, still others bewildered to be collectively put in a dock for something they don't recognise. Our faculty is not substantially different from any other academic institution: hard-working academics, passionate archaeologists, no Andrew Tate-like misogynist monsters. This is not to say that we don't have any classically academic, lingering shit issues. Archaeologists are also human beings and social problems arise with us too, but we do not recognise an institutionalised form of gender discrimination.
We understand that the anonymous submitter has had unpleasant experiences (perhaps some time ago), and we deeply regret that. But to state, then, that the overall climate of the current faculty oozes misogyny puts all female staff in a victim role, when the experiences are also quite different.

We urge that, if there are concrete concerns, people report them through the channels we have at the faculty and university for that purpose. In recent years, all corridors in the building have pretty much been wallpapered with flowcharts directing you to the right places. In all departments, this has also been explained in detail in recent weeks.

We are learning and continuing to adapt. If there is one thing that ‘the case’ has made clear, it is that serious complaints are actually acted upon.

Dr. Marike van Aerde
prof. em. Corrie Bakels
dr. Nathalie Brusgaard
dr. Carol van Driel
dr. Letty ten Harkel
Mette Langbroek MA
dr. Joanne Mol
dr. Roos van Oosten
All are affiliated with the Archaeology faculty