Gender Equity in Salaries Achieved for Some Information Professionals, but Not for Others

By Quint, Barbara | Information Today, December 1999 | Go to article overview

Gender Equity in Salaries Achieved for Some Information Professionals, but Not for Others


Quint, Barbara, Information Today


Women and men working as special librarians and information professionals are paid the same, according to the 1999 Annual Salary Survey of the Special Libraries Association (SLA, http://www.sla.org). In the U.S., the median full-time salary of female SLA members ($49,550) actually exceeded that of male colleagues ($48,672). In Canada, the median earnings matched ($52,000).

The SLA notes that this marks the first time in history that the median salaries of female information professionals have equaled or exceeded those of male information professionals. The change occurred over several decades, with women receiving relatively higher percentage increases in pay than men. From 1976 to 1999, women's salaries rose 237 percent while men's increased only 169 percent.

The 1999 Salary Survey also showed a shrinking gap for the mean salary, but mean earnings are not yet at parity. Mean salary is $700 more for men than for women in the U.S. ($53,440 vs. $52,730) and $500 more for men than for women in Canada ($55,646 vs. $55,149). Ruth Arnold, SLA's director of research, indicated that most salary distributions prefer the median to the mean as a valid measurement, since it eliminates the overweighting of high and low outliers. The two highest-paying title categories in Canada and the U.S. are chief information officer/vice president/executive and owner/principal/consultant.

David R. Bender, executive director of SLA, said: "Several factors have contributed to these trends. Both the U.S. and Canada have established laws that prohibit discrimination in pay on the basis of gender. Increasingly, we are finding that women are being placed in higher-level jobs with appropriate titles, thus placing them in leadership positions within their enterprises. We are ecstatic to see the trend reaching this point as we lead the way into the next century."

The 1999 SLA Annual Salary Survey is $45 for members and $54 for nonmembers. For a copy, contact SLA's Publications Department at 202/939-3673, or e-mail apryl@sla.org. SLA has some 15,000 members in 60 countries. The survey questionnaire went out to 5,000 U.S. members and to all 1,000 Canadian members; it had a 42-percent return rate.

SLA is the first professional librarian group to report the elimination (or reversal) of the gender gap in salaries. Other professional societies for librarians and information professionals have reported slow but steady decreases in the gap. …

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