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Do Men Get Library Jobs More Easily than Women?

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.



  1. If men have an easier time getting jobs in libraries then it’s certainly news to me. I had to work an unpaid internship for half a year, a paid internship for half a year, and a part-time job with no benefits that paid peanuts for a year before getting enough of that all important “1-2 years of experience working in a library preferred” prerequisite out of the way.

    So that’s two years in the trenches before I got a library job that pays well. That’s also looking in a city with a library school, which probably had a lot more to do with the difficulty in finding a good job than my John Thomas.

    Having said that, I did interview for a public library position in a nearby rural community where one of the many illegal subjects my clueless interviewer brought up was “You’d be good for this position since you’re, y’know, a man. Our local school librarian likes working with men and you’ll have to deal with her. The ladies on staff can’t stand her.”

    I didn’t get that job and probably wouldn’t have taken it had it been offered, but that’s one anecdotal point in favor of the argument.

  2. I don’t know about JOBS, per se, but I do know that at my library school (a vaunted institution of high acclaim and an even higher sense of self-importance), the few meager scholarships they awarded to their students were HIGHLY disproportionate when it came to gender. In a school that is likely right on par with your statistics, 85% female, does it seem right that the powers-that-be, without fail, always split the scholarship awards straight down the gender line, 50/50? I can see how that would seem to be the most “fair” course of action, but in reality, that resulted in almost every male student in the school receiving one of these coveted scholarships, which included not only tuition & stipend, but also mentoring, a guaranteed student library job of prestige, and general bragging rights. I’m sorry to say that while some of these men were excellent students with impeccable backgrounds and qualifications, quite a few of them were utter DOORKNOBS. I know for a fact that this particular scholarship was often leveraged into a “real” job after graduation, and at least put them in a better position for the job hunt, what with all the connections they were able to make and the great experience on their CVs. The rest of us were left to scrabble and fight for the rest of the library jobs on campus, not all of which included a tuition remission stipulations and none of which carried the weight and responsibility of these special scholarship jobs.

    Yeah, I’m a bit bitter. I came into the program with a Masters degree under my belt already and stellar prior experience, etc., yet was beaten out on these supposedly merit-based scholarships by quite a few utter tools with no experience, no other higher education degrees, and no degree of sense. And they were treated like special snowflakes by many of the professors too. I’m all for getting more men into the profession, but for god’s sake, if I were a woman in a “man’s career” I wouldn’t want to be fawned over for my special otherness.

    Side note: libraries may be overwhelmingly staffed by women, but from my observation, the positions of highest authority (heads of departments, etc.) are quite often held by men, at least in a different proportion than the lower ranks. Yes, my friends, the glass ceiling exists in libraries too, dammit.

    • I’m curious how you feel about Title IX, which discriminates against men in almost exactly the same way as your library school’s scholarship program. Blame the PC police who seem to think that the only way to beat discrimination is through even more discrimination.

    • I don’t know a lot about Title IX, to be perfectly honest, so my opinion isn’t as nuanced as I’d like it to be. But to be frank, it seems to me like a flawed tool with good intentions. I truly feel it has done a lot of good, but that doesn’t mean that all of its consequences are positive and just. I don’t know if there is a perfect solution, and sometimes we have to make do with an imperfect one that brings us closer to a laudable goal. Sometimes a good tool can have negative consequences, and sometimes a bad tool can have good outcomes – it’s not a black or white thing. And we must always remember that “fairness” is not an absolute, but a perception with differing opinions across the board. Rarely is anything truly fair for everyone involved.

    • AbFab-

      Title ix is the perfect example of a government program having unintended and unforseen consequences. (well, they weren’t at all unforseen to anyone who thought about it for very long).

      Meritocracy now, meritocracy forever.

    • I Like Books says:

      I wonder what would happen if there weren’t enough men applying to make up the 50/50 ratio…

    • Techserving You says:

      Abfab, I feel for you, although I’m not sure that another masters degree really qualifies you for a scholarship. (Your experience does, though.)

  3. I wish someone would do a comprehensive study, it would be interesting.

    Anecdotally, my husband is a school librarian – experienced graduates from his library program weren’t able to find jobs, but he had schools falling over themselves to hire him despite having no experience (not even volunteer). Having a male teacher in elementary is a big deal because of the whole role model thing, I think he does a lot of good just by showing up to work and not being a dork. He’s not really technically inclined but has been put in charge of the library technology program for his district – he thinks they (the other librarians) just assumed he’d be good at it because he’s a man.

    These are just rumors but one of my librarian friends claims that her library conducts exhaustive interviews and the staff weighs in on preferred candidates, but the library director always chooses the man (regardless of suitability or staff recommendations) for IT positions. Another claims her fellow librarians get giggly when attractive men interview. I’ve been on a few (all female) search committees for an academic library and didn’t noticed any overt preferences but in most cases the rapport with female candidates was more relaxed. They did end up hiring a man and it worked out well.

    • “I downplay my contributions.”

      Why do I find that so hard to believe, Jean? You’re the loudest person on this blog, by a long shot; you have no problem getting your points–the many, many of them–across. I guess you fall back on your gender to force others to listen to you. But, anyway, I’ve known few female librarians who won’t hesitate to tell you what they think–no matter how ignorant they might be.

  4. I wouldn’t be surprised if gender is a factor in library hiring decisions; it is in every other profession.

    I’ve noticed an incredible amount of sexism in the portrayal of female librarians and this is bound to have a subtle, unconscious effect on job-seekers and employers.

    Additionally, women are acculturated to NOT advocate for themselves, and this has a cumulative effect throughout their lives & occupations. Linda Babcock & Sara Laschever have written a real good book on this topic: Women don’t ask : negotiation and the gender divide.

    • Jean, the “sexist portrayal” of librarians you refer to is not only embraced, but perpetuated by female librarians. How many “sexy” librarian videos have we had to endure where women librarians vamp it up for the camera? Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways.

      On the other hand, when I was in library school, bashing male librarians and males in general was a favorite past time of many professors and students. I had to sit and endure quite a few comments regarding “dumb guybrarians” during many a class. Had the tables been turned (male profs disparaging female students in an engineering/business/law program) you can be sure it would have been front page news. It’s just another day in library school-land.

      The library profession has a lot of problems. Sexism towards women ain’t one of them.

    • Mike, just because some librarians choose to “vamp it up for the camera” or perpetuate the portrayal doesn’t mean it isn’t sexist. You can, in fact, have it “both ways” – sexist behavior can be perpetuated from within, just as much as from without. And it doesn’t mean we ALL do it – please don’t over-generalize and lump us all together into one category, as if we’re all inherently represented by this one subset.

      And have you ever thought that maybe some female librarians embrace the sexy stereotype as a way of trying to gain/achieve power using the only means that appears available to them? As in, if this is the system in which we operate, and one happens to have the requisite “tools” (i.e. sexiness) with which to play the game, it’s easier to just play into the stereotype than fight against it. Because god knows fighting stereotypes is often a fruitless and thankless venture and not everyone has the strength or the perceptiveness to do so.

      There’s sexism everywhere, not just in librarianship. The fact that it is a career that is so heavily stereotyped and fetishized proves that sexism is alive and well in this profession.

      I’m sorry that you’ve experienced bashing of male librarians in general by your colleagues and professors in library school. I don’t stand for that crap and neither do a lot of women. It doesn’t change the fact that I met a fair number of dumb-as-a-brick library school students, both male and female, and am ready and willing to disparage any or all of them regardless of gender. Idiocy knows no bounds, gendered or otherwise. My problem lies in seeing quite a few dumb-as-a-brick male librarians receiving kudos for nothing so much as attending class and graduating from the program with mediocre grades, something I never once saw happen to a run-of-the-mill female student. I’m not saying that all male librarians are thus, or that all female librarians are better, just that I’ve seen and experienced a kind of strange preferential treatment go towards men in this profession, and that it is truly frustrating. Of course there are areas where I’ve seen women get preferential treatment too – which also angers me – but these instances pale in comparison and frequency.

      Simply turning the tables and saying “if a woman experienced this exact scenario in a male-stereotyped profession”… is an argument I’ve heard often and loudly,
      yet it never takes cultural context into account. Flipping that switch to turn the situation upside down doesn’t negate the culture in which we live and work, one that is traditionally male-dominated and male-privileged. It’s easy to find double-standards in a vacuum, devoid of context or society or subtext, but in the world around us, there is indeed male privilege and bias at work that silently colors our perceptions of every situation.

    • Hi Mike – Sexism does cut both ways, as you say. Gender stereotypes are confining and harmful for females and males. This subject is so very, very complicated — in part because as individuals and cultures, we continually reify the stereotypes we are trying to move beyond.

      For example, I subtly enact and reinforce gender stereotypes every day. I downplay my contributions. I don’t ask for something simple that someone could easily give, like a more flexible work schedule or a tech gadget. In a meeting, I devote a little more energy to a male colleague even though the contributions of the female right next to him merit more of my attention.

      These are all toxic, deeply-rooted learned behaviors and they fortify the very conditions I have found personally limiting. It took me awhile to understand this and to take responsibility for my part in constructing my reality. For me, it’s an effort every day to unlearn these behaviors and move through the world more naturally in ways that benefit myself and those around me.

      If I was your colleague in library school, my hope is that I would have appreciated your position as a minority (having been there lots myself) and spoken out about the male-bashing as it happened. Whether it’s directed at females or males, this type of behavior brings us all down.

    • I think you’re a bit off base here, Jean. I think there is a sexism against men in the profession- at least driven men. I think it’s a view that this is a woman’s world and that men have the rest of the world and they should leave it alone.

      Just look at the comments on AL’s article a while back about “arrogant men” who want to change the way library work is done being a growth industry.

      Also, being a career driven male in a female dominated profession, one’s typical attitudes and actions are viewed differently than if those same attitudes were promoted by a career driven female. “Good for her,” they say. “She’s a career woman.” But the man is better off just going away because he’s not welcome.

    • But to justify by saying 2 wrongs make a right is horrible. The logic of that- of saying “welcome to my world, this is how it is”- is the same logic that says women shouldn’t be in the workplace at all.

      (In fact, and it’s not intentional, it is a subtle way of lumping those who complain about the treatment into a group with those who’ve mistreated others.)

      The bottom line is, if men are getting preferential treatment in the profession when it comes to hiring, it ight only be to balance out the historically disproportionate numbers in the reverse. However, gender shouldn’t be a factor any more than race, imo. It should be a meritocracy on every level. Hiring the best people for the job all the time every time is how you get the best staff. Getting the best staff is how you get the best library. Getting the best library- for the money- is (or should be) the goal for every librarian.

    • Hi Spencer – I believe you were replying to my first comment. (NOTE to LJ – this site really needs to implement threaded comments.)

      My 2009 essay was a reflection on the mass media portrayals I encountered when researching my previous blog post, Librarians get bad press in 2009 … so it lost a bit of context by me singling it out here. My observation continues to be that male librarians are invisible in external portrayals – which is certainly a form of sexism. WRT to most of the experiences you & your other male colleagues have described … being an outsider, it’s hard for me to have insight or commentary on them.

      Through out this thread, far from saying “this is a woman’s world and that men have the rest of the world”, I’ve tried to convey that it is wrong, and really sucks when anyone is locked out because of gender, etc. This may not always have come thru as I’ve jotted off replies, but there you have it.

  5. I think we have the data. Library schools conduct salary & placement surveys, which LJ covers. We can surely find the male/female ratios among students at those schools. Why not compare them rather than speculate? That would answer your question for the entry level, at least.

  6. I think it has more to do with the personalities of men who go into librarianship. Almost all of the males that were in my program were “high performers” who could have handled any number of academically and technically difficult positions. The females were across a broader range, including many who should never have enrolled.

    As others have pointed out, there is likely a difference in interviewing skills and styles.

    I wonder what the gender differences are between the different types of libraries, special, academic, public, school.

  7. Depressed library student says:

    YMMV, but my experience in library school indicates that on average, the men tend to be more well-rounded than the women. As long as we’re generalizing here, most of the men had interests and hobbies besides just wanting to be a librarian, whereas most of the women tended to define themselves solely as librarians-in-training.

    • Depressed library student says:

      Sorry, meant to finish by saying that perhaps this is what makes men more attractive to hiring managers than women.

    • Wow, that’s a VERY over-generalized statement. How well did you actually get to know the women in your program? That kind of statement just makes me think you didn’t know any of them very well.

      I couldn’t possibly disagree with you more. Everyone in my program had interests and hobbies outside of school – many of us came from other programs with other degrees already under our belts, and one of the things I liked most about library school was this diversity of backgrounds and interests. Could you perhaps be misinterpreting seriousness in their studies and future career with “defining themselves solely as librarians-in-training”? Heaven forbid a student actually be too focused on their studies, or at least too focused to share their interests and hobbies with you.

    • And as for men being more “well rounded” or whatnot, and that being more attractive to hiring managers… that’s a load of bullsh*t if I’ve ever heard it. Sorry to be crude, but it’s exactly that kind of thinking and stereotype that hampers women in the workplace, across ALL careers, when it comes to hiring.

  8. Getting too old for this s*** says:

    Sexism exists like it or not and it is a double edged sword. As a Librarian who happens to be male, I have worked in many places, academic, public, and school and yes, I have found that the majority of librarians, and clerks for that matter are female. I have also experienced sexism from many of my female collegues, especially at the academic level. There, at the college library, male librarians usually stayed 3-4 years, at the most, before moving on. We were treated differently by the director (female) and the assistant director (female) in many ways and it was very rare that we were able to chair committees or head up one of the three library teams. It was even rarer that one of use would be given a merit raise or promotion over a female librarian. I myself had to bypass our merit committee (all female) and apply directly to the University merit committee for a raise (which I received).
    Even today, as a director of a library, I look around the table during our systems Director’s Association meetings and I see mostly females and their attitude’s of the male librarians convey a message of exclusion.
    It goes both ways.

    • It’s awful, isn’t it? This has been women’s experience in the workplace for years. It still is in many fields and at the higher levels of all fields – from managing a Walmart to representing citizens in Congress.

      And getting a place at the table is only the first hurdle. Regardless of work performance, on average women earn a mere 75% of what males in the same position earn.

      Sounds like your situation was just as egregious.

    • Sorry, replied in the wrong spot.

      But to justify by saying 2 wrongs make a right is horrible. The logic of that- of saying “welcome to my world, this is how it is”- is the same logic that says women shouldn’t be in the workplace at all.

      (In fact, and it’s not intentional, it is a subtle way of lumping those who complain about the treatment into a group with those who’ve mistreated others.)

      The bottom line is, if men are getting preferential treatment in the profession when it comes to hiring, it ight only be to balance out the historically disproportionate numbers in the reverse. However, gender shouldn’t be a factor any more than race, imo. It should be a meritocracy on every level. Hiring the best people for the job all the time every time is how you get the best staff. Getting the best staff is how you get the best library. Getting the best library- for the money- is (or should be) the goal for every librarian.

    • Hi Spencer – I wasn’t at all saying 2 wrongs make a right.

      I was saying that it’s egregious when it happens to anyone … male or female.

    • Jean, I was more commenting on what happened in this situation, not what you said. (or rather on the perceived response to justify such sexism against men.)

  9. So, to continue with my earlier thought:

    Here’s the most recent LC salary & placement survey:

    3743 women of 4790 graduates, so 78% of graduates were women

    1216 women employed of 1555 total employed, so 78% of employed people were women


    Clearly there’s a lot of statistics & analysis I haven’t done here (what are the error bars on that, what kind of jobs are these (full vs part-time, requires MLS vs not, salary, type of library, specialty, etc.). I mean, percents are not statistics. However, anyone wanting to make an argument that men are more easily employed, in the face of this rough cut, is going to have to bring some actual data (not anecdata) to the table.

    • Getting too old for this s*** says:

      Yes but 83% of people polled (with an error rate of +-3%) know that statistics are meaningless and madeup! (ok, it is funnier after a few beers)

  10. I think the real place to look to answer this question is at administration. My library employs fifty people, forty-five of whom are women. The director? Male. I’ve seen this at many many libraries and one does start to wonder what it all means. Why in a predominately female profession are the administration positions held by men?

  11. Cut Both Ways says:

    I am a male who studied in a majority-female library school and works in a majority-female library system, and I have never heard more speculation and derision about men than in those environments. I think that any majority group will comment on the minority with false authority – if the majority of librarians were men, I am sure that women would complain about the “boys’ club” that is rude to and offers fewer opportunities to women. That certainly seems to be the case in male-dominated fields.

    As it so happens, libraries are occupied mostly by women. Excuse me while I lift heavy objects, know everything about computers, fail to organize, think only about sex, and read nothing but science fiction, actions with which I am regularly stereotyped contrary to my reality and ability.

    I would love to see human beings treat each other like individuals and not sources of confirmation bias!

    • The next time I’m asked to get something from a car and bring it in- because I’m the only guy- I might scream. If you can’t lift 20 lbs you shouldn’t be working here. It’s in the job description.

      Chivalry isn’t dead; but it doesn’t belong in the workplace.

  12. Just for fun, I spent the last 45 minutes crunching some numbers with the employee directory. I work in a public library system that employs 356 people in all. 66% of the employees are female.

    Starting at the top, our executive director is a woman. 71% of the directors are female, although the deputy directors are 60% male.

    76% of our library branch managers are female, including the manager of our main branch, along with 75% of the assistant directors.

    The librarian positions–those which require an MLIS–are 86% female. Associate librarians (who do most of the day-to-day reference work as a librarian without an MLIS at a little over half the pay) are 84% female. That’s within a few points of the 82% female figure I’ve seen quoted for MLIS graduates as a whole.

    Our public computer specialists, who make about 2/3 as much as librarians, are 64% male.

    So based on some back-of-the-napkin calculations using our library system’s payscale, the 66% of the workforce made up of women is taking home 70% of the pay. The number of men in upper management twice as high as you’d assume from the number of male librarians in the system; 33% of all positions above librarian are held by men, as opposed to the 14% of the librarians who are male.

    So in my particular library system, it’s slightly harder for men to get a job as a librarian. But once you’re in, it’s a sausage-powered rocket directly to upper management. I await my imexplicable rise to power with interest.

    Actually, a lot of the positions that get paid more than librarians in this system don’t require an MLIS and have nothing to do with librarianship in particular. So the numbers aren’t quite as skewed as they would appear. However, working out the implications of all that requires more math and data than I’ve got the brains for and access to, respectively.

    • “But once you’re in, it’s a sausage-powered rocket directly to upper management.”

      Is it because they’re men, or because some of the women don’t want to put the time and effort into moving up the chain? I’ve known plenty of female librarians happy to work part-time because hubby brings home the bucks, but not the reverse.

  13. RE: why men avoid the profession entirely: The pay is a big deterrent. Men tend to self-select toward higher-paying majors and fields which librarianship, as well we know, is not.

    Also, I imagine the mommy track plays a big role in terms of who ends up getting promoted to management, or hired for postings that demanded previous experience in the field. That can alter the composition of the pool without necessarily implying discrimination.

  14. blacksquirrel says:

    I think men are at a slight disadvantage when being considered for rank-in-file jobs, but not so much for administrative positions. In fact, this is where I believe men have a slight advantage. Overall, there can be a subtle bias against male librarians. I honestly wish there were more and am pleased to have a few as colleagues. I would also argue that all is not well in the sisterhood of librarians–younger female librarians, especially if they are lean and reasonably attractive, can have a tough time as they are often targets of passive-aggressive bullying among the more rotund, older set. I wish there were more youngsters around, too. I also wish there was a ban on clogs among librarians. Yeah, I wish for a lot of things…

  15. Randal Powell says:

    I think libraries, library users, and library science, would benefit from a better balance of male and female librarians – as well as a better balance of librarians of different races, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, academic interests, and dispositions. Of course, what is best for libraries and society is not necessarily best for you. I would never recommend that anyone go into librarianship other than a white, female, with a BA in English or education, and a certain conservative disposition – I do not mean “conservative” in a political sense.

    • “I would never recommend that anyone go into librarianship other than a white, female, with a BA in English or education, and a certain conservative disposition”- Wait, what?

  16. It is simply a very difficult job market regardless of sex. We are fighting, or infighting, for work in a profession in decline, during difficult economic times. It can strain a sense of collegiality among many different groups, not just men and women.

  17. noutopianlibrarian says:

    Anecdotes and statistics aside, gatoloco is right that the situation of a profession in decline contributes to the tenor of discussion. So does the remnants of a not so long ago time when, in a primarily female profession, men dominated management and administration. However, the feminist movement has swept over librarianship in the interim, and in it’s wake, not only has the situation shifted in terms as management/administration, but the library environment is so PC feminist that, regardless of your gender, the expectations are that you will conform to this. Furthermore, it is ironic that, in the aftermath of this feminist movement, not only is there not any interest in equity for men and women in serving a somewhat more gender-balanced patron base, but women are criticizing, and anecdotally-speaking, excluding people based on their gender once they have ascended to the power positions themselves. Fascinating, and all too human.

  18. We often forget that women have gained more equal rights only relatively recently. In the US, women gained the right to vote only 90 years ago, almost 60 years after black men gained that right. Our sexism is even more powerful than our racism. Women have historically earned less than men in the same job and while that is changing, imbalance still exists. Women built the great libraries of the US and it is wrong that they are denied equal access in hiring and advancement. Perhaps unions and associations dedicated to advancing the cause of librarians, not libraries, are required to to create equality in the library workplace.

    It’s ironic that womanizing oddball Melville Dewey helped make librarianship a profession dominated by women by allowing women into Columbia College’s library school, making librarianship one of the few professions an educated woman could pursue.

  19. I found this interesting and “googled” it. I came up with an old article written by a Christine L. Williams called THE GLASS ESCALATOR: HIDDEN ADVANTAGES FOR MEN IN THE ‘FEMALE’ PROFESSIONS. It is from the 1990s but very interesting. Reminded me of how I felt going into Psychology in the 1970s when it was for mostly men – one male psychologist told me”For a woman you make good money.” Yeah I put in the time, don’t I get my dime. Now mostly women enter Psychology it seems. My how times have changed. I subjectively believe more men got hired still in Libraries because they are still a novelty… but then I don’t have time to do a study…and I’m not a librarian.

    • ” I subjectively believe ”

      WEAK SAUCE. I subjectively believe if you had a son instead of a daughter they would have a job now. See, subjective beliefs are silly.

      (*i don’t really believe that, just using it for argument’s sake.)

  20. Techserving You says:

    Purely anecdotal…

    In my experience, it all depends on the particular library director/management team. In large academic libraries, I never noticed that men were given preference. If anything, they had a harder time getting jobs. I do not think they were hired in proportion to the percentage of applicants they comprised. However, in a smaller elite “old school” college setting, in which the 70-something female library director had been in place for almost four decades, men were DEFINITELY preferred. More annoying to me was that they were, to the complete exclusion of any women on the staff – including women with demonstrated technology backgrounds – involved in all things IT. We had a reference librarian who was known for having very little to do in his job, and also known for being exceptional un-tech-savvy, who was asked to head a new tech committee which fit my background perfectly, because he “needed more to do.” Even he admitted to knowing nothing about the topics of the committee, but he had a bunch of books ordered for him so he could learn.

    In meetings my very well-informed comments would be dimissed in favor of the comments of the guy who had been hired to be our “systems” librarian – a man with an English undergrad major, English masters degree, and absolutely no tech background. But as evidenced by the reference librarian being asked to head a tech committee, this was not just a case of pigeon-holing people into the jobs into which they’d been hired. There was clearly an idea that men MUST know more about IT than women. There were instances in which the systems guy weighed in on very basic topics… whether we could switch our scheduling of X from a system which involved a plastic binder, to Outlook, and when he said it was impossible, and I explained that it was possible and he just wasn’t doing it properly, my idea was dismissed. (In that case, it was almost as if they were relieved that someone would tell them it wasn’t possible, so they wouldn’t have to change.) Obviously you don’t need to be particularly tech-savvy to know how to use Outlook… that’s just an extreme example of something basic this guy didn’t know, and even then, they (the old ladies in charge) wouldn’t listen to a woman.

    I actually do know a number of males from library school who had a hard time finding jobs. But… and I don’t know what this means and if we can generalize… I did find that as another commenter said, the men tended to be more well-rounded than the women. In fact, several went on to immediately get PhDs in “real” and difficult and competitive subject. Others had some very well-developed hobbies or areas of interest, but needed a “career” to pay the bills. In my experience, even at a top school, the women tended to be the “education” types who were only focused on librarianship.

  21. Techserving You says:

    “I would also argue that all is not well in the sisterhood of librarians–younger female librarians, especially if they are lean and reasonably attractive, can have a tough time as they are often targets of passive-aggressive bullying among the more rotund, older set.”

    Amen, Blacksquirrel

  22. NoahJon Marshall says:

    I was that “kind reader” that inquired…..thanks!!

  23. Regular Guy with MLS says:

    In my state, the State Library has a disproportionate number of men employed compared to the number of men in the profession. Someone has told me that the director feels that, since men are underrepresented in the library profession, he should hire more men. These are the best, highest-paying library jobs around, and some of my women colleagues feel very strongly that there should be more equality in hiring practices in this institution.

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