Thursday, 17 January 2013

All family visits the University

Archaeologist Husband and I went to see the family event at the University of Leicester that coincided with the international Society for Historical Archaeology conference. I had tried to arrange to meet a Finnish colleague in the conference, but not having her mobile phone number was working against me when the attendants of the conference were kept busy with a full programme and important occasions for networking.

While Archaeologist Husband ran around The Square of the Peggy Gee building (Student Union) after Number One Son, I managed to exchange pleasantries with my other Finnish colleagues who were attending the conference and discuss the ongoing professorship filling process at the University of Oulu. A discussion had arisen in the social media about the lack of female applicants; if only the female postgraduates did have the same nerve to apply different posts as their male colleagues do. It seems that this lack of applications is partly due to personal circumstances of some more experienced candidates and the lack of awareness among the junior ones that these occasions give an opportunity to log in an interest. It is apparent that some potential candidates did not realize that the process may involve them and did not consider applying. It is possible that the recent emphasis put on the narrower definition of the specialisms of the department by the University had an impact. However, the remark of one male that 'it is not men's fault if women don't apply', is blatantly wrong. Naturally, it is ultimately down to the potential candidates to decide, but the male-dominated tenured archaeologists also have to promote women and keep building their self-confidence.

After the chitchat, the vision of Archaeologist Husband shooting up and down The Square after Number One Son made me to look for them and we all headed to the event downstairs. The place was heaving and it became apparent that the space was not particularly suitable for a family event, although it is true that it was advertised more as a public event. The main exhibition space was down the stairs with very little space for parking any strollers. Happily, there were some hands-on tables upstairs along a corridor, but moving around downstairs to approach potential materials for children was made more difficult by the popularity of the event. The number of stalls was delightful, but even with a modest number of people the atmosphere was very ‘cosy’ and the possibility to lose an excited toddler relatively high. Running after Number One Son meant that an adult could not concentrate on the stalls but had to try to keep Number One Son from misplacing the items brought about by different re-enactment societies. Our son was particularly taken by the Viking coins and I had to warn the lady showing the use of the scales that they may risk losing the coins to our ‘Uncle Scrooge’. He considers all coins HIS and has no sense of other possibilities in ownership, yet. I also managed to keep him from displacing any items from the Great War presentation.

Nevertheless, if one had visited the event as a singleton or as a couple without children, it would have been very good indeed. The stalls gave a lot of information and introduced different organisations and initiatives, including the famous Richard III excavations. The layout meant that even with a minimum audience the event felt well-attended. All main local actors were there, but I only managed to wave to the chairman of the Fieldworkers. This time the emphasis was on allowing Number One Son to see new things and spaces. The downside with the location is that public parking is relatively far away from the venue and we had to return to our car quicker than would have been hoped for in order to avoid the risk of penalty fee. Free parking was possible for only two hours...

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