A kind reader wrote with a question I decided to share: Do males have a any easier time getting jobs, as I have heard, or is that another library myth?
I’m not sure how we could actually answer that question without extensive research. Unfortunately, librarians don’t have time to do extensive research, and the LIS professors who do have the time don’t like to research anything to do with libraries.
Thus, we’ll just have to make stuff up or go with whatever anecdotal evidence you’re willing to offer.
We do know that librarians are overwhelmingly white women. According to the OUP librarian census, the current makeup of the library profession is 83% female. If that ratio were skewed towards white men, someone would be crying sexism, and they might even be right.
There are all sorts of possible reasons for this. Librarianship has traditionally been seen as women’s work, along with nursing and teaching school. Thus, lots of men probably avoid the profession entirely, even today, rightly thinking that answering the question “What do you do for a living?” at a cocktail party with “I’m a librarian” isn’t going to impress the ladies, or for that matter the men.
Then there’s possibly some bias involved. Search committees have a tendency to hire people who look like them. So if the search committee is all white women, maybe there’s a tendency to hire more like them. Or maybe there’s just not a lot of choice. Who knows.
The ratio of women to men is slightly lower in academic libraries, and at least used to be lower among administrators, though that might be changing. I know or know of a lot of women who are library directors, so the old days of women working in the trenches while the men sat in the top office making twice as much might be gone.
But back to the question: do men have an easier time getting jobs than women?
Back in the day, I remember the only people not getting jobs after library school were women, but statistically speaking that would make sense. If most of the students were women, most of the unfortunate students would be, too.
I’ve been part of searches where men were hired, but I don’t remember anyone caring that they were male. The best candidate was usually given the first offer, regardless of gender, and that despite my preference for having more hot, straight guys in the profession. I don’t know if the men had it easier.
If anything, men should be at a disadvantage. I’ve seen plenty of job ads for libraries that have the standard disclaimer about being an equal opportunity workplace and encouraging women and minorities to apply, because librarianship needs more women.
Despite the paucity of men in librarianship, there are probably librarians claiming to be interested in diversity who would consider it a betrayal of their politics to hire a man, especially a white man. After all, those white men can go get higher paying IT jobs. Why are they taking low paying library jobs away from the diverse women and minorities? It’s just not fair.
So, do you think men have an easier time getting jobs in lirbrarianship, like they often do in other fields? Were you hired because you were a man, or because you weren’t? Did you hire someone because they were male, or not hire someone?
Another possible question is, do men interview better than women, or vice versa, or is there no difference?
Science awaits your answer.