Alfred Deakin Institute
The Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI) is a leading humanities and social sciences research institute based at Deakin University, Australia. Our researchers aim to understand the complex meanings of citizenship, social inclusion and globalisation, and investigate the imp


Women in Native Title Anthropology


Women in Native Title Anthropology (WiNTA) is a women-devised, women-lead project designed to target issues related to the retention of women in the sector.


Hosted by Deakin University, WiNTA will generate findings on the gendered nature of experiences in the native title anthropology sector. This will inform the development of two 2-day professional development workshops for women. The focus on women will benefit women anthropologists, employers including Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs), and the sector as a whole by promoting gender equity and more inclusive workplace practices. The project will be overseen by a six-member Reference Panel of key women in the sector including consultant anthropologists, anthropologists employed at NTRBs and a barrister.


Issues relating to gender have been noted in reviews conducted into capacity within native title anthropology since at least 2003. In 2003, a survey of the sector found that 80% of those aged under 30 years were women, but that men made up an overwhelming majority of practitioners in the age brackets 40+ years (Martin 2004). A 2013 study drew similar conclusions; that aside from NTRBs, ‘men predominate in all other areas of employment’ (ANTS 2014:9). A 2016 survey conducted by the Australian Anthropological Society (2017:14) found that ‘female anthropologists with expertise in land rights and native title tend to be less senior, less well remunerated and experience greater levels of precarious employment than male counterparts’. The reasons for this are poorly understood, but anecdotally include inequitable pay, a lack of family-friendly employment opportunities and gender bias in the scoping of employment contracts. For example, in the 2014/15 financial year, 61% of women anthropologists reported incomes of less than $80,000, compared with 42% of men anthropologists (AAS 2017:12). Six of the seven individuals earning over $180,000pa were men. Commissioning parties sometimes report that they are unwilling to appoint a woman to undertake consultancy work, even in contexts where the material under review is not gender sensitive. Though seldom discussed publicly, sexual harassment of women anthropologists in the workplace is known in the sector. The AAS (2017:9) concluded 'the findings suggests the need for greater professional development opportunities to support early and mid-career female anthropologists'.

I hope that WiNTA will provide not only some answers, but also some ideas as to how to encourage greater recognition and respect for the special knowledge and experience of women who work in native title, along with some practical strategies for supporting them to make the most of what has the potential to be a very rewarding career.
— Dr Pamela McGrath - Director, Land People Rights Consulting

Program Priorities

Women in Native Title Anthropology will address the retention of women anthropologists in the sector. Though the retention of anthropologists of all genders is identified as a stage of career progression issue, the current profile of practitioners suggest that it is the gendered nature of the experiences of women anthropologists’ that plays a defining role determining outcomes. While there is a substantial number of women anthropologists involved in the sector, few are progressing to become ‘exemplary’. The loss of women, including for the purposes of acting as expert witnesses in court proceedings, is a highly significant attrition of expertise at a time when the retention of qualified and experienced anthropologists is a vital to achieving the resolution of native title claims.

WiNTA is a women-devised, women-run project with four interrelated aims/tasks:

  1. to conduct an analysis of the role of gender in structuring the native title anthropology sector, particularly the retention and progression of women anthropologists through mid and senior levels

  2. to explicitly engage with women anthropologists regarding issues of gender in native title related workplaces

  3. to provide two data-informed professional development activities for women in native title anthropology

  4. to enable the development of supportive networks and informal mentoring relationships between attendees

Research Team

Dr Cameo Dalley


Project Funding

Australian Government Attorney General’s Department