Information Work and Gender Roles

This week’s reading about The History of Information Science and Other Traditional Information Domains was very interesting. It’s interesting to note the gender shift: males used to dominate the library field in the 19th and early 20th century. Nowaday, females are the majority in the library field. Why is that?

“Is it the nature of the work, the socialization of children, the societal channeling of career choices by gender, or some other reasons that explain why most librarians today are women and most programmers today are men? This is particularly interesting because during and soon after World War II most programmers were women. Other information jobs have changed their gendered nature in the reverse order; for example, business data [End Page 236] machine operators were overwhelmingly male in the early twentieth century but overwhelmingly female after World War II. How and why did these changes come about?”

I think it’s a mixture of cultural and society’s aspects. Once women got their freedom to get more choice in their employment, they tend to work on every aspect possible. I noticed that there are hardly any male Children’s Librarian in the library system, and I believe female fits a better role in doing storytime. There’s a couple of cool male librarians that gives great kids storytime though! It is a very compelling shift in change. How did gender role shift so suddenly, and how does it impact certain informational work?

Here’s an example: If a library branch is all female staffed, they might have difficulties checking on the men’s restrooms or to settle a situation with an angry, agressive male patron. These are just practical and functional situations that happens on a regular basis at any library institution.


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