Diversity and Demographics of Zooarchaeologists: Results from a Digital Survey

Suzanne E. Pilaar Birch


Nearly 25 years ago, a “Zooarchaeology Practitioner Survey” was distributed via conventional mail to individuals in the USA and Canada and received 122 responses over a period of several months in 1991. Now, a revised “Demographics in Zooarchaeology Survey” provides an update to  those data and assesses the current state of the field. The 2014 survey remained open for 3 months and received 288 responses from practitioners worldwide. Global participation was made possible by hosting the survey online. Key findings of the 1991 survey included disparities in employment rank for women despite similar levels of degree level attainment as men, a point which the 2014 survey sought to investigate. This trend appears to persist for those without the PhD and at the highest levels of income for those holding a PhD. In addition, the recent survey asked participants about their racial or ethnic identity in order to evaluate the demographic diversity of the discipline beyond sex, age, and nationality. Data regarding topical and geographic research area were also collected and reflect a subtle bias towards working with mammals and a focus on research questions grounded in prehistory in Europe and North America, followed by Australia and Southwest Asia. Results are compared with those of the earlier survey and membership information from the International Council for Archaeozoology.


Demographics; Archaeology; Diversity; Gender; Zooarchaeology

Full Text:



Aitchison, K., and D. Rocks-Macqueen. 2013. Archaeology Labour Market Intelligence: Profiling the Profession 2012-13. Landward Research. Available at: http://www.landward.eu/2013/10/archaeology-labour-market-intelligence-profiling-the-profession-2012-13.html.

American Association of University Women (AAUW). 2015. The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap. American Association of University Women. Available at: http://www.aauw.org/resource/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/.

American Anthropological Association. 2015. 2015-2016 AnthroGuide. Available at: http://new.aaanet.org/publications/guide.cfm.

Association Research, Inc. 2005. 2005 Salary Survey. Society for American Archaeology. Available at: http://www.saa.org/Careers/2005SalarySurvey/tabid/253/Default.aspx.

Gero, J. M. 1985. Socio-Politics and the Woman-at-Home Ideology. American Antiquity 50:342-350.

Gifford-Gonzalez, D. 1993. Report on the Zooarchaeology Practitioner Survey. Zooarchaeology Research News 12:3-15.

Gifford-Gonzalez, D. 1994. Women in Zooarchaeology. Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association 5:155-171.

Lazar, I., T. Kompare, H. van Londen, and T. Schenk. 2014. The Archaeologist of the Future is Likely to be a Woman: Age and Gender Patterns in European Archaeology. Archaeologies 10:257-280.

National Science Foundation. 2015. Survey of Earned Doctorates. Available at: https://ncses.norc.org/NSFTabEngine/#WELCOME.

Ulm, S., S. Nichols, and C. Dalley. 2005. Mapping the Shape of Contemporary Australian Archaeology: Implications for Archaeology Teaching and Learning. Australian Archaeology 61:11-23.

U.S. Census Bureau. 2013. Race. Available at: http://www.census.gov/topics/population/race/about.html.

Zeder, M. 1997. The American Archaeologist: A Profile. AltaMira Press, Walnut Creek. CA.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14237/ebl.6.2.2015.469

Copyright (c) 2015 Ethnobiology Letters

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.