Main content


Response: The Glass Ceiling

Icon Member responds to CEO's article in Icon News

In Icon News 66, Icon CEO Alison Richmond wrote about the glass ceiling keeping conservators from leadership positions. The article questions why conservators tend not to progress up the career ladder beyond the level of Head of Conservation, or the head of the division in which conservation resides.

Archaeological Conservator Angela Middleton adds her own concerns in the letter below.

Dear Alison,

I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading your article The Glass Ceiling in the September issue of Icon News.

I was just wondering whether in future steps, you will also look at the gender imbalance, which I think is quite an issue in conservation (and of course the wider heritage sector), as I believe that the conservation workforce is mainly female, which is not reflected in leadership roles.

I am sure you are aware of this already, but I found Taking On the Boys’ Club at the Art Museum interesting (as well as the Women in STEM and TrowelBlazers initiatives obviously).

Best wishes,

Angela Middleton
Archaeological Conservator
Historic England

Over the next few months, Alison will be interviewing a series of role models in conservation to explore the barriers they faced and how they overcame them, both in terms of external opportunities and internal attributes.

The first of these interviews – with Helen Shenton, University Librarian and College Archivist at Trinity College Dublin – is in Icon News 67, available only to Icon members until end January 2017. Join Icon for immediate access and send your own comments to

Image: Public Domain


The views expressed in these comments are the views of the individual and do not reflect the views of The Institute of Conservation. Any comments containing inappropriate language or copyright material will be removed.

Twitter feed Follow us


View all

2018 ICON Book & Paper Group AGM live recording


The Anna Plowden Trust - a brief introduction


Plowden Scholar Puneeta Sharma 2013: Assistant Drawings Conservator, Royal Collection Trust


Focus on Continuing Professional Development grants: the Scottish Conservation Studio


Plowden Scholar 2002 Tom Küpper: Head of Glazing, Lincoln Cathedral


Water Washing Stone War Memorials