I was really inspired by the blog posts Catherine Cronin and Frances Bell wrote reflecting on their personal feminist histories of working in education and technology in advance of their ALTC session A personal, feminist and critical retrospective of Learning (and) Technology, 1994-2018. Catherine and Frances invited others to contribute their own personal reflection, so here’s mine. I confess this is rather hastily written, and I’m posting it at the eleventh hour, the night before the conference, but I hope it will add something to the debate.
My academic career started out not in technology but in archaeology, a subject I stumbled into accidentally and quickly fell in love with. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Glasgow in 1990 and was accepted to do a PhD on anthropomorphic landforms and newly emerging remote sensing technologies, but sadly I was unable to get funding so I had to turn down the place. I was pretty devastated at the time, but decided to continue working in the field in the hope of securing funding at a later date. I worked first as a field archaeologist and then as material sciences technician at the university. Although I met and worked with a lot of amazing women in the field, the senior lecturers and professors who ran the research projects and excavations I worked on were invariably male. There was only one female lecturer in the university at the time, the inimitable Dr Elizabeth Slater who went on to the University of Liverpool where she become one of the few female professors of archaeology in the UK. I’m proud to say that last year I published a Wikipedia page for Professor Slater as part of Ada Lovelace Day.