Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

The Gender Gap Library Education

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

The Gender Gap Library Education

Article excerpt

Five directory issues of the Journal of Education for Librarianship covering a span of 18 years were examined in order to determine whether there are gender-related differences in teaching specialties within graduate programs of library and information science. The results of this inquiry revealed strong support for the gender-linked nature of teaching specialties within the discipline. Specifically, women tend to specialize in the teaching of services for children and young adults, cataloging, and classification, whereas men have tended to specialize in information science, research methods, library automation, and the history of books, printing, and libraries. These patterns parallel those found in the courses selected by male and female students and in the career paths of M.L.S. degree graduates. The results are discussed in terms of their implications for library educators as sex-role models.

LIBRARIANSHIP is viewed by many to be a "woman's profession" because the number of women outnumber the men in the profession by a ratio of approximately four to one. However, as is the case in other occupations, while women may be numerically dominant, the positions of power within the profession are, to a large extent, held by men. For example, 73 percent of the directors of academic libraries are men. I This inequitable distribution of power is reflected in salaries as well, which tend, across job categories, to be higher for men than for women.2 In other words, there is a division or "gender gap" in the types of work performed by women and men within the profession oflibrarianshi p, and this division is reflected in an inequitable distribution by sex of prestige and salary.

A similar situation exists in library education. As early as 1965, Carroll found that "men teaching in A.L.A. accredited graduate library schools were generally younger, higher salaried, held more advanced degrees, taught fewer different courses, held more administrative positions in their previous experiences, and earned administrative titles in their present positions in less time than women.'" At present, although the gap in terms of actual numbers of female and male educators in North American graduate schools of library and information science is not great, the numbers are not representative of the proportion of females to males in the profession. For example, in 1983 while approximately 50 percent of the full-time faculty in ALISE member schools were males, on the basis of the number of males in the profession, one would expect that number to be closer to 20 percent.' Thus, within library education, relative to the total number of female educators, there are a disproportionately high number of males. Furthermore, women remain clustered in the lower academic ranks relative to men, earn lower salaries (in every rank except that of lecturer), and are less likely to be tenured than their male counterparts.'

The most likely reason that a large number of men have become involved in library education is that graduate level teaching is a high status activity. It is consistently true that within academe, there are many more males than females, even within disciplines in which there are a large number of female students.6 It is also true that within the disciplines themselves, separate career paths are often followed by male and female academics. For example, Fossum reported that women law professors tend to be overrepresented in the areas of family law and legal research and writing, in spite of the progress they have made toward becoming integrated into law faculties.' Similarly, Kimmel reported that among psychologists, while there is a tendency for both sexes to be engaged in "applied" rather than "basic" research, this differential tendency is greater for women.H Furthermore, the difference in the career paths of male and female academics can be observed world-wide. For example, Over found that in Australian universities, while there are few women in academic appointments, those who are appointed tend to be concentrated in the social and behavioral sciences, and in the humanities and education. …

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