Who We Are

We are legion. Well, we are four. Welcome to our labour of love – kickstarted by a conversation on twitter, and surprisingly, wonderfully, now an actual Thing.

What We’re Doing

The Raising Horizons Project, a collaboration with photographer Leonora Saunders and Prospect Union.

What We’ve Done


Media Presence

TrowelBlazers is dedicated to outreach activities aimed at encouraging participation of women and underrepresented groups in archaeological, geological, and palaeontological science. We have a highly engaged multi-platform social media presence, with 5,500+ Twitter followers, 5,000+ Facebook likes, 4,000+ Tumblr followers, and growing communities on Pinterest and Instagram. In addition, we have had mainstream media coverage related to TrowelBlazers as well as in our professional capacities.  (Guardian, CNN).


We have convened and participated in panels discussing women in science at the Royal Society and the London Feminist Conference, and also participated in a wide variety of events and activities including the Cambridge Science Festival, Skeptics in the Pub 15th Anniversary Show, a Jump! magazine feature, Wikipedia Edit-a-thons on two continents, Ada Lovelace Day events, have been invited to the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to the UK, as well as additional events within our respective home institutions.


In the arts, we have collaborated with performance artist Bryony Kimmings as part of her Credible Likeable Superstar project, which included creating a professional 10-minute short film interviewing women in paleontology about their jobs, set against the backdrop of the Crystal Palace dinosaurs (2014). “Woman In Time”, created with Allison Cullingford from the University of Bradford for British Science Week, was a spoken word performance that combined storytelling, poetry, archival material and science (2015). We are currently in the process of developing a traveling exhibition in collaboration with Prospect Trade Union and prominent photographer Leonora Saunders, featuring trowelblazers past & present (2016).



Hassett, B.R., Wragg-Sykes, B., Pilaar-Birch, S., and Herridge, V., (in press). Activism from the Archives: changing narratives to engage new communities. In: Jameson, J. (ed.) Public Participatory Archaeology. One World Archaeology.

Hassett, B.R., Pilaar-Birch, S., Herridge, V., and Wragg-Sykes, B., 2017TrowelBlazers: Accidentally crowd-sourcing an archive of women in archaeology. In: Apaydin, V. (ed.) Shared Knowledge, Shared Power. Springer

Wragg-Sykes, B., Herridge, V., Hassett, B.R., Pilaar Birch, S.E. 2013. A Splendid Regiment of Women: 20th century research networks among women scientists in archaeology, geology and palaeontology. In: Charman-Anderson, S. (ed.) A Passion For Science. London: Finding Ada.



Hassett, B.R. Pilaar Birch, S., Wragg Sykes, B., Herridge, T.2016. Activism from the Archives: Changing narratives to engage new communities. World Archaeological Congress (WAC 8), Kyoto. 28 August – 2 September.

Hassett, B.R.Pilaar Birch, S. Herridge, T., Wragg Sykes, B., Pilaar Birch, S. 2015 TrowelBlazers: Bringing the untold stories of women in the geosciences to light. Address to the meeting of ResNet, University of East Anglia.

Hassett, B.R. Wragg Sykes, B., Pilaar Birch, S. Herridge, T. 2015. Where does your community live? The TrowelBlazers experience. Presented to the 80th Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archaeology.

Hassett, B.R, Wragg Sykes, R.M. Pilaar Birch, S., and Herridge, V. 2015. Where does your community live? The TrowelBlazers experience. Presented at the 80th Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archaeology.

Wragg-Sykes, B., Hassett, B.R., Pilaar Birch, S., and Herridge, V. 2014. The cave, the skull and the women: female representation in Palaeolithic research. Presented to the 4th Annual Meeting of the European Society for the Study of Human Evolution.

Hassett, B., Herridge, V., Wragg Sykes, R.M. and Pilaar Birch, S. 2014. TrowelBlazers: Accidentally crowdsourcing an archive of women in archaeology. 20th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists.

Herridge, V., Hassett, B., Pilaar Birch, S., and Wragg Sykes, B. 2014. TrowelBlazers. Presentation and Panel Discussion: Revealing lives: women in science 1830-2000. Conference at the Royal Society.

Pilaar Birch, S., Herridge, V., Wragg Sykes, B., Hassett, B.R. 2014. TrowelBlazers: a collaborative, crowdsourced project born on social media. Paper presented to the 36th Meeting of the Computer Applications in Archaeology Association.

Wragg Sykes, R.M., Herridge, V., Hassett, B., and Pilaar Birch, S. 2014. The Cave, The Skull and The Women. Proceedings of the European Society for the study of Human Evolution.

Wragg Sykes, R.M., Hassett, B., Pilaar Birch, S. and Herridge, V. 2013. TrowelBlazers: A grassroots, collaborative, international, crowdsourced outreach project born on Twitter. Paper presented to the 36th Australian Archaeological Association Meeting.

The Team
Brenna Hasset

Brenna is a bioarchaeologist who is especially interested in studying child health in the past, and more than a little obsessed with teeth. She’s lucky enough to have trod in the footsteps of some serious trowelblazers, from Giza to Anatolia, and can be found in tl; dr form at passiminpassing or on the twitter @brennawalks. She is the author of  the Times Top 10 Science Book of 2017 Built On Bones: 15,000 Years of Urban Life and Death (Bloomsbury).

She is not, despite considerable evidence to the contrary,  a tarsier.


Victoria Herridge

Tori is a palaeobiologist who’s specialist topic is the evolution of dwarf elephants. For reals. She’s trying to answer questions about when, why and how Ice Age island elephants evolved to be so small (like 1-metre-tall small), and what this tells us about evolution more broadly. Plus, what’s not to love about mini-mammoths?

When she’s not looking at tiny – for elephants, that is – fossil teeth and bones in museums, Tori can generally be found scouring Mediterranen islands for new dwarf elephant discoveries. Or on twitter. Or at toriherridge.com.

Suzanne Pilaar Birch

Suzie combines archaeology with biogeochemistry to investigate how humans adapted to climate change in prehistory.

Suzie recently joined the University of Georgia as an Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in the Departments of Anthropology and Geography.

She tweets as @suzie_birch, for the journal @openquaternary, and of course, @trowelblazers. She also maintains the Stable Isotopes in Zooarchaeology website & blog here.

Rebecca Wragg Sykes

Becky would happily work in any trowelblazing field, but happens to be a Palaeolithic archaeologist (an encounter with Jean Auel’s books at a tender age has a lot to answer for). She especially finds the Neandertals fascinating, enjoys getting intimate with their stone tools, and trying to get at Big Questions such as the shape of their social networks.

Currently based at University Bordeaux, France, thanks to a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship, Becky can be found on 21st century Homo sapiens social networks as @LeMoustier, and blogs on research and other stuff at TheRocksRemain.