We’re very excited to (finally!) be able to tell you all more about our Big Project(s)…

For 2016-7, in collaboration with Leonora Saunders, an award-winning photographer concerned with gender equality (see some of her fantastic work here) and Prospect, the UK’s trade union for scientists and heritage professionals, we are organizing a national touring photographic exhibition, launching this autumn. It will portray historic portraits of a dozen key women in the trowelblazing sciences from the 19th to mid-20th century, posed by a range of modern women working in these fields.
To contextualise the portraits, there will be selected mini-biographies, real objects associated with the historic women where possible, and specially produced video interviews with the modern women, recording the oral history of their own research networks and experiences in the field. We’ll be releasing more information about exactly who is going to be featured in due course- stay tuned, it’s an inspiring line-up!

At present we plan to have the exhibition move around different locations until mid-2017, including venues such as museums and science festivals. To ensure as many people as possible can be involved, there will also be events linked to each showing, including apperances by the modern women, public talks, workshops, and hopefully activities involving young people and children.

We hope that Raising Horizons will reach many more people than we usually do, helping them discover the story of how our archaeological, geological and palaeontological heritage owes a huge amount to pioneering women, then and now. We want to transform attitudes about the history of the geosciences, highlighting not only the impact of past figures, but the ways in which their training, mentoring and research networks formed unique communities, linking to women working today. It also offers an opportunity to discuss how we can further improve diversity within these fields, in terms of gender and beyond.

Prospect Pioneers calendar

“Prospect Pioneers”, Leonora Saunders’ commissioned project with Prospect Union, focusing on members in STEM roles



A further aspect to our activities in 2016, which we’ve been plotting a long time, is the creation of TrowelBlazers Bursaries, aimed at young people from backgrounds poorly represented in archaeology, geology and palaeontology, enabling them to visit a real-life trowelblazer in the lab or field, or host a visit at their school. Being able to see the diversity in people and types of trowelblazing careers firsthand can make a big difference, and we hope that this scheme can continue the impact of the exhibition in the future.

Behind the scenes, we’ve been working for the past 6 months on how all this is going to actually happen (!), and so far have had amazing responses from individuals and key organisations, including the women who will be photographed, Historic England, The Geological Society, Society of Antiquaries of London, Palaeontological Association, Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, the Prehistoric Society and others. We’re submitting a grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the exhibition, but we’re also looking for support from YOU, our magnificent community.

We will be launching in the next few months a TrowelBlazers online shop, where you can grab awesome stuff and at the same time help support our activities. In addition, we will run a sponsorship structure, to enable individuals or organisations to contribute financially to either the Raising Horizons exhibition or the Bursaries (or, both!). Donations of any size will be welcome, and we’ll have special perks built in for those who want to give larger amounts such as tickets to the exciting launch events- in fact, we already have our first Bronze Trowel organisational sponsor signed up (to be announced)! Further details of how you can support us financially will be released soon.

And of course, we really value the myriad other kinds of support that people can give to both projects, for example at exhibition-related events (speakers, helping organise local activities like heritage walks, school visits, volunteering at some of the showings) or in relation to the TrowelBlazers Bursaries, for which we are still at the early stages of planning. If you have ideas of ways you’d like to help, we’d love to hear about them!

So… we hope you are as excited as us about the next year or so, and agree that together we can get both inspirational projects – exhibition and bursaries- off the ground. Please get in touch with us if you would like to be involved, using our normal email address, via Twitter or Facebook.



Prospect’s (prospect.org.uk) members are engineers, scientists, managers and specialists in areas as
diverse as agriculture, defence, education and children’s services, energy, environment, heritage,
shipbuilding, telecoms and transport. Prospect is a non-party political experienced campaigning
body, which promotes and protects the interests of professionals at work, including in heritage, for
example the “Imperial ar Museum Under Fire” national campaign. It is independent and forward looking
with diverse membership, and is committed to fighting for equality of opportunity for
women both in the workplace and within society generally.

Leonora Saunders (leonorasaunders.co.uk) is an award-winning photographer who has created
multiple commissioned projects related to gender equality and highlighting the role of women in
careers traditionally dominated by men. Specialising in portraiture, Leonora’s work has featured in
The Guardian, The Sunday Times, and The Evening Standard as well as The Royal Photographic
Society Magazine and other photographic journals. Leonora’s work has been exhibited nationally and
she currently is artist in residence at Harris Academy, Bermondsey.
Her previous work includes:
– “Prospect Pioneers”, a calendar for charity featuring women in STEM (science, technology,
engineering and mathematics) based roles for Prospect Union; highly commended at the TUC Media
Awards, 2014
– “10%… and rising” book project of portraits and interviews with women working in professions
where they make up less than 10% of the workforce.
– “The Athena Project” in collaboration with CMS Cameron McKenna, celebrating women in the
legal and financial sectors; nominated for ‘Best Diversity Project‘ at the 2014 Lawyer Management
– “Against the Odds”, comprising portraits and filmed interviews of female alumni for Birkbeck,
University of London.


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