As we end the National Library Week for 2011, and it happens that Equal Pay Day fell in the same week, my good friend Mary Abraham from Above and Beyond KM, brings up an issue that has plagued librarians for decades. Does the library profession suffer because it is viewed as a “traditionally female” profession, and that pay for women librarians averages less than their male counterparts. (quoting from a couple of statements from AALL and the American Library Association.)
Abraham specifically looks at the law librarian in the 21st century and compares the current state of women in the law librarian profession to that of 1st century Egypt from the new Stacy Schiff biography on Cleopatra. After comparing the two, Abraham writes:
To be honest, I’m not sure that Cleopatra would ever agree to be a 21st century female law librarian. Given her high level of education, political skill and leadership ability, do you think she would have tolerated the inequities?
She emphasizes this by then asking, “Why do we?”
One of the things I heard a lot of in the ’90s was that the librarian profession was 80% female, but that library administration was 80% male. I have to say that, anecdotally, I don’t see those same stats in the law library field. Does that same 80/20 rule still work in today’s law libraries? Perhaps I’m leading a sheltered life (I’m sure if I am, that my other good friend, and powerful female law librarian, Jean O’Grady, will be happy to tell me so.)
I’ve always joked that if you’ve gone into the profession of librarianship for the money, you are going to be sadly disappointed. My wife and I (both librarians, by the way) look at our profession by comparing it to the game of Careers. She gets lots of hearts as an elementary librarians, and I have managed to get lots of stars as a law librarian, but neither of us expect a lot of dollar signs.
But, enough about me… Get over to Mary Abraham’s post and add your comments on whether you think that Cleopatra would have put up with the inequities.