Please not another Ingold reference

Actually I draw on Ingold’s work quite heavily, and don’t want this to be a criticism of that in anyway. The title of this blog is based on a response myself and a friend and colleague reached towards the end of a long conference. Our complaint revolved around the male dominance in the work being cited. And at this conference Ingold could have won you key word bingo.

I mostly work in two fields which are generally considered to be male dominated; Digital Archaeology and Castle Studies. During a Castle thing I pointed out that all the current experts the group called on were male, and was told that that was the nature of the discipline. A rather wonderful thread on twitter points to this being incorrect. While Digital Archaeology I think has a bad recent history, at least CAA have taken a strong approach to combating this stereotype.

Recent work has suggested men tend to get cited a lot more. In fact not only do men tend to cite themselves more  we also know that women in general tend to be cited less. We have seen they tend to dominate departmental seminar series, and then there is “manels”.

The current state of affairs

This has been a subject on the rise in recent months with various people asking if any journals have any guidelines that encourage a diverse bibliography. I also understand that presenting appropriately diverse reading lists has also been under discussion in the History department at York. But I’m not sure I have seen a formal way to move forward.

Changing our practise

I was recently asked to peer review a paper for the SPMA. While going through it I was surprised to note a couple of (female) authors I was expecting to feature were not present. It struck me that actually I had no idea how diverse the bibliography was as first names were shortened to initials. I realised my working practise had to change and spent a painstaking hour googleing citations trying to predict gender (though this methodology isn’t concrete a better working practise is discussed here), until I was satisfied that there were enough women featured within this list. I also pointed out in my comments that the papers I was expecting to see weren’t cited.

This might not change the world.

I know that me taking the extra time to explore this within a single paper context might not seem like it would change the world. However, we should be critically reflecting on who we are citing, and further who other people are citing as part of our review process. If the trends mentioned above continue in an academic world focused on h-index’s and Impact, then the current bias observed in senior university roles will continue.