Leaky Pipelines and Mountain Paths: How Inequality Shapes and Prematurely Ends Academic Archaeology Careers, a talk by Laura Heath-Stout (UMass Boston) Harvard Archaeology Seminar


Thursday, January 27, 2022, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Online (Please Register)

ABSTRACT:     If you have spent any time in seminars on diversity issues in the sciences or in higher education, you've likely come across the metaphor of the leaky pipeline, in which students and researchers are portrayed as drops of water or oil in an ever-narrowing pipe, with women and other marginalized people dropping out at each connection between pipes. This metaphor has become ubiquitous in the forty years since it was first used, and has been criticized for its simplicity; its detractors have suggested alternative analogies that compare academic careers to games of Chutes and Ladders or treacherous mountain climbs. All of these images highlight the ways that social inequalities shape and prematurely end academic careers. In this talk, I explore the experiences of archaeologists who leave particular career paths, whether that takes the form of changing projects, regions, or specializations, or leaving archaeology all together. These are the drops that drip out of the pipeline, those who fall down the chutes in the board game, and those who wander, fall, or are pushed off the path up Mt. Tenure.  When this happens, the discipline loses the unique insights that these archaeologists could have shared, and when those who quit are women, people of color, queer people, disabled people, and people from lower class backgrounds, the discipline loses the kinds of knowledge that marginalized people are especially equipped to create. Drawing on approximately 100 in-depth interviews with academic archaeologists, I explore these dynamics and ways to support a more diverse and inclusive discipline. This talk is based on a chapter from my forthcoming book, Identity, Oppression, and Diversity in Archaeology: Career Arcs (under contract at Routledge).

Dr. Laura Heath-Stout (she/her) is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, supported by a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the founder of the Disabled Archaeologists Network. Her research focuses on how intersecting systems of oppression shape the demographics and knowledge production of archaeology. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her baby son, reading feminist and anti-racist science fiction, and making pottery. Dr. Heath-Stout is a settler on the lands of the Massachusett and Pawtucket peoples.

Online via Zoom:

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- Amy Arsenault   Jess Beck  &   Jason Ur