It’s a happy coincidence that my colleagues, collaborators, and friends Grace Erny and Dimitri Nakassis (along with Laura E. Heath-Stout) published the results of their work to understand the demographics of the authors who publish in the American Journal of Archaeology at the very moment that I was finishing up the short study of my own citational practices which will be an appendix to my book.
You should read their article. It’s really good and rather than just being based on author data or citations, it draws on a survey of AJA authors that allows Heath-Stout, Nakassis, and Erny to consider a much wider range of identities and tendencies.
My study of my own citational habits is pretty rudimentary and not a little disappointing. It reflects any number of personal and disciplinary tendencies that I need to address. On the personal side, I recognize that most of my educational and professional life has occurred in homosocial environments: all boys schools, a co-institutional college, and the male dominated discipline of Ancient History. This, in turn, socialized me to work more easily with men and, perhaps unconsciously at times, led me to develop research teams that were male dominated. This likely shaped my research interests and informed my citational practices. For example, I’ve never developed much facility or interest in bioarchaeology, zooarchaeology, paleoethnobotany or the study of small finds (other than pottery) and these fields tend to attract a higher percentage of women.
Archaeology as a discipline has its own unfortunate history of gendered citation practices, which I unpack only superficially in my appendix. I fear that my book not only reflects my own socialization, but also continues a citational practice that reinforces a gendered view of the discipline as well as the recent past.
You can look at my data here as an .xlsx file.
Below is a draft of my short note in my appendix.
Archaeology has long enjoyed a tradition of reflexive critique. Historically this has involved attention to field methods, interpretative practices, and forms of argumentation. Reflexivity has also focused attention on the identities of individuals involved in knowledge making. Joan Gero’s pathbreaking work in the 1980s demonstrated what was long known that women historically had fewer opportunities for field work than men and received less research funding as a result (Gero 1983; 1994). Gero went on to show that in Mesoamerican archaeology, women’s contribution to archaeology tended to focus on the analysis of finds, and this reciprocally reinforced the character of this work, both professionally and in the eye’s of the public, as less significant than original excavations. This bias invariably shaped the publication record in the field as well with men publishing far more consistently the leading journal of American archaeology, American Antiquity, than women.
A decade later, Mary Beaudry and Jacquelyn White traced a similar trend in the field of historical archaeology (Beaudry and White 1994). They note that by the mid-1980s women published approximately half of the articles in the leading American journal in this field, Historical Archaeology, increasing from a third of the articles by the late 1970s. They noted that while the topics of publications are often hard to categorize, it appeared that women tended to publish more regularly in areas of artifact analysis, zooarchaeology, and paleobotany. This suggests that some of the trends in Mesoamerican archaeology observed by Gero reflected the wider field. Beaudry and White also documented the gender division in works cited by the articles in Historical Archaeology and noted that by the early 1990s when their study appeared, articles by women made up about a third of the references. Scott Hutson’s 2002 study of citation practices across a number of archaeological journals offered a more nuanced view that sought to take into account the rate at which women cite women and men cite women (Hutson 2002). Hutson’s analysis is complex and appears robust and suggests that while citational practices among men and women are not statistically significant other than in a few specific journals, women’s scholarship appears to be cited less frequently than the number of publications produced by women predict. As a result, Hutson can argue that archaeologists generally under-utilize or at least under-credit women’s contributions to the field. As Dana Bardolph observed in her important 2014 study of gendered publishing trends in archaeology, who publishes about the past shapes the way in which we understand it (Bardolph 2014).
As a modest contribution to this discussion, I have archived in table form the citations in my book and attempted to indicate the gender of the authors. This presents only a rather rudimentary metric to assess the citational politics of the work. Recent efforts to understand practices of citation and authorship in academia and in archaeology have focused increased attention on intersectional variables of race, sexual orientation, class, and ethnicity that may well exert an even more fundamental influence over the kinds of pasts (and presents) that archaeology seeks to reproduce (Heath-Stout 2020).
I am disappointed with the results. Overall, 73% of my citations include at least one male author and 36% contain at least one woman. The gender balance improves when I consider all citations more recent than 2000: men still appear in 70% of the citations, but women now appear in 41%. For citations since 2015, women appear as authors in 46% of the citations and men in 66%. Men appear in 65% of the most recent citations (since 2020) and woman in 45%.
Citations, of course, only tell part of the story and my hope is that the text of this volume at least partially compensates for the metrical short comings of my citation practice.