“Why Are There So Many Women in Forensic Anthropology?” An Evaluation of Gendered Experiences in Forensic Anthropology

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Marin A. Pilloud
Nicholas V. Passalacqua

Abstract

There is broad discussion of the higher numbers of women in the forensic sciences, particularly when compared to other science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. In this discussion, we focus on forensic anthropology. We begin with an historical overview of the role of women in the discipline; data are then provided that outline the numbers of women scholars and practitioners over time. We then explore the different roles of men and women in regard to leadership positions, professional awards, awarded grant-funding, job hiring trends, presentations at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) annual meeting, and publications in the Journal of Forensic Sciences. While the number of women in forensic anthropology is greatly increasing, the discipline has been slow to also grow the visibility of women in positions of leadership or to honor them with prestigious awards. One reason for this finding may be that women are subjected to bias and harassment, which may cause them to leave forensic anthropology at various points along the way, or lead to their contribution being less valued. These findings are discussed within the context of gendered expectations, and suggestions are provided on how to improve the retention of women as well as to diversify the discipline in general.

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Technical Notes