Women scientists don beards to confront gender inequality with the Bearded Lady Project

Dozens of female paleontologists have teamed up to show the world the diverse faces that make up their area of study.

For many — men and women alike — a stereotypical geologist or paleontologist is described as male. If he’s working in harsh terrain in search of bones or artifacts, a rugged, bearded man often comes to mind.

It’s this stereotype that became the inspiration behind the “Bearded Lady Project”.

To increase awareness dozens of female paleontologists glued on beards and posed for photos that are now on display at the University of Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS).

The photos featured in the exhibit were taken over two years and feature 15 UC Berkely paleontologists.

A documentary about the project, titled “The Bearded Lady Project: Challenging the Face of Science” will premiere on August 22 at LHS.

Interviewee Carole Hickman, A UC Berkeley professor emerita of integrative biology, says she really did wear a mustache once while conducting field research in the Australian Outback 37 years ago, and she can be seen posing with that mustache in the LHS photo exhibit.

Hickman says representatives from oil companies would often visit her site to hire men to work in remote Alaska —

“– But they didn’t want to interview a woman, and I insisted on being interviewed, even though I wasn’t really interested,” she said in a statement on the UC Berkely website.

“And they kind of hemmed and hawed around about why having a woman in a field party was not a good idea. And I would say, ‘Well, you don’t hire men of high integrity?’ just to try to make them feel uncomfortable.”

To learn more about The Bearded Lady Project, visit UC Berkeley or the project’s official website.