Gender and the AIA, 2016 edition

About two years ago I wrote a blog post about the gender of speakers at organized panels at the annual meetings of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). I found then that

in panels organized by one or more men (and no women), 66% of the speakers were male; in panels organized by one man and one woman, the speakers were 50% male; and in panels organized by one or more women, 47% of the speakers were male.

Prompted by a blog post written by Sarah Bond about all-male panels in ancient history (and related issues), which I would urge you all to read, I ran an analysis similar to my older post for the most recent annual meeting of the AIA (2016, in San Francisco; the program is here). I categorized panels by the gender of their organizers, and papers by the gender of their authors. (Note: I only used three categories: male only, female only, and mixed male and female; I didn’t count workshops as panels, nor did I count respondents). The results?

  • 11 panels organized by women contained 16 papers authored by men, 40 papers authored by women, and 6 authored by men and women. 25.8% of papers in these panels were authored by men (64.5% by women).
  • 10 panels organized by both men and women contained 20 papers authored by men, 26 papers authored by women, and 11 authored by men and women. 35.1% of papers in these panels were authored by men only (45.6% by women).
  • 5 panels organized by men contained 18 papers by men, 7 papers by women, and 1 paper authored by two men and a woman. 69.2% of papers in these panels were authored by men only (26.9% by women).

The pattern is the same as in 2014, then: panels organized by women contain the most papers authored by women, panels organized by a mix of men and women are next most likely to contain papers authored by women, and panels organized by a man or men are the least likely to contain papers authored by women. It seems likely to me that this is not coincidence or noise in the system, although it should be said that the sample size is small.

So it seems that female organizers tend to invite women, and male organizers tend to invite men, at about a 2-to-1 ratio. Twenty-one out of 26 panels had at least one woman as a co-organizer. Overall, more papers were given in all organized panels by women only (73) than by men only (54). Thankfully, there were no all-male panels, although we got close: there were two panels with only one paper (out of five) written by a woman.

The mixed (i.e., organized by a mix of men and women) panels are interesting. Panels organized by men or by women contained papers co-authored by a mix of men and women rarely (<10%), but panels organized by men and women had many more such papers (19.3%). The mixed panels were:

  • “Integrating Community and Education into Archaeological Research”
  • “Current Developments in North African Archaeology: AIA/DAI New Projects and Joint Efforts”
  • “Recent Excavations on Roman Provincial Sites: New Data for Understanding Regional Differences in the Provinces”
  • “Cycladic Archaeology: New Approaches and Discoveries”
  • “Deserted Villages, I: Before Abandonment”
  • “Exploring a Terra Incognita: Recent Research on Bronze Age Habitation in the Southern Ierapetra Isthmus”
  • “Five Decades of Excavations at Poggio Civitate”
  • “Deserted Villages, II: During and After Abandonment”
  • “Minting an Empire: Negotiating Roman Hegemony Through Coinage”
  • “New Fieldwork and Research at Gordion: 2013–2015”

These were panels largely focused on fieldwork, then, which explains the large number of co-authored papers, many of which were written by both men and women.

Overall, what results should we draw from this? It’s not easy to say. I really should go through open panels too, to see how those shake out, and to get some kind of a baseline, but that involves a lot more work. I pointed out above that men tend to invite men at a 2-to-1 ratio and the same for women, but looking at the raw data draws out some other patterns. Panels organized by men all look the same: MMFMM, MFMFM, MMMMF, MMFMM&, MFMMF (where & = co-authored paper where at least one man and one woman is an author). In all cases, most speakers are men and there are one or two women. Panels organized by women are much more variable: MMM&, FMMF, FM&FFFM, FFFFF, FMMF&F, MFFFFFF, FMMMF, FFFFF, M&FM&&F, FFFFFF, FFMFFF. Thus, there were panels entirely composed of women authors (3), but there are also panels with a lot of men. Maybe sample size is the issue here. But it seems to me that the variability that we see in panels organized by women is pretty normal — after all, the composition of your panel is going to be determined by the topic and who’s working on it, not just who you know — whereas the homogeneous pattern of the male panels… well, it seems weird.


6 thoughts on “Gender and the AIA, 2016 edition

  1. John Muccigrosso

    Isn’t the issue that specialties show sex bias?

    IOW, women tend to work in fields that other women work in, and men tend to work in fields that men work in. Thus at least part of the bias is not in choosing speakers, but in the fields themselves.

    1. nakassis Post author

      Maybe? It’s certainly not true for my main field (Greek prehistory), although I suppose Greek survey archaeology tends to be pretty male. The panels organized by men were “Climate Change and Human Society, Past, Present, and Future”, “Digital Resources for Teaching and Outreach”, “Standardization and the State”, “Long-Term Urban Dynamics at Knossos: The Knossos Urban Landscape Project, 2005–2015”, and “Pliny’s History of Ancient Art: Toward a Contextual Perspective.” Knossos aside, because that was a panel about a specific project, I don’t imagine that any of those topics are particularly gender biased towards men, but that’s just my general sense.

  2. Pingback: Friday Varia and Quick Hits | The Archaeology of the Mediterranean World

  3. Doug Rocks-Macqueen

    Do you happen to know the age distribution to go with the genders? Archaeology has bad gender ratios 50+ = mainly men. 35 and under- mainly women. Sarah’s 2nd point- ‘2. People pick their friends for panels rather than searching out others they may not know.’ I wonder if the female/male dominated panels are age based i.e. all male panels tend to all be older. Female panels will be younger.


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