Article Recommendation: Gendered Expectations for Leadership in Libraries

A recent article from In The Library with the Leadpipe caught my attention. It’s an explanation of, and call to action against the misogynistic ideals of library management which can hinder women in taking on leadership roles. Jessica Olin and Michelle Millet do a great job of explaining the prevalence of this issue, looking at both lived experiences of women in librarianship and published research:

Gendered Expectations for Leadership in Libraries – Jessica Olin and Michelle Millet

Given the prevalence of this problem in many different professions, it sadly shouldn’t be surprising that it’s in issue in the “feminine” profession of librarianship. However, in my life previous to entering this program, I was still detached from that reality, and some naïve part of me hoped that I could circumvent that issue in my own career. But the issue isn’t improving fast enough. In Olin & Millet’s example of academic libraries, there’s still a 30% disparity between the amount of female librarians total and the amount of female librarians in management. This article is a reminder to all of us that we need to engage more actively in the problem to make it change. As the authors state:

At the very least, our leadership literature and training needs to be gender-inclusive (meaning that it specifically addresses the challenges of gender) instead of gender-neutral (which usually comes out male-oriented).

Librarianship’s professional value of neutrality may have a time and place, but this is not it. I think we can, however, take the value we place on education to create more informed and progressive institutions when it comes to gender equality.


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