GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - 2018

Paper No. 200-2
Presentation Time: 1:50 PM


CURRANO, Ellen D., Department of Botany, University of Wyoming, Department of Botany, 3165, 1000 E. University Ave, Laramie, WY 82071 and JAMIESON MARSH, Lexi, On Your Feet Entertainment, 49 Spartan Drive, Oxford, OH 45056

Since founding The Bearded Lady Project in 2014, Ellen Currano and Lexi Jamieson Marsh have observed the power of art to start meaningful, open conversations about gender, stereotypes, implicit biases, representation in science, and sexual harassment and assault. The traveling portrait exhibition, created by Kelsey Vance, consists of 39 stunning black and white portraits of bearded female paleontologists. These provocative images inspire viewers to reflect on and discuss preconceived notions of who belongs in science, what a scientist should look like, and whether it does take a beard to be taken seriously as a field scientist. The short documentary film further explores these topics through interviews with professional paleontologists and provides beautiful imagery of (non-bearded) women in the field, lab, and classroom. A feature-length film is currently in post-production, and a trailer will be shown during this presentation.

To date, the portrait exhibition has been shown at four venues, including as the centerpiece of a season-long celebration of women in science at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Film screenings followed by panel discussions with local scientists have occurred on university campuses and museums and at outreach events for middle and high school students. Panelists have publicly shared, some for the first time, how the sexual harassment they endured as students or early career researchers altered their career choices and trajectories. It has been empowering for panelists to tell their stories and impactful for their colleagues and students to see someone they personally know share a #MeToo experience. Institutions interested in hosting the exhibition or holding a film screening can contact for more information. All proceeds from the project go to support aspiring female paleontologists, and two summer research grants were awarded in 2018 through the Paleontological Society’s student research grant competition.