Thursday, 7 August 2008

Is there enough Girrrl Power in Library IT?

A few weeks ago, Kat from Deakin University, asked me if I knew of any libraries with programmes or strategies that specifically targeted getting women with IT degrees into a career in Libraryland. I had to say I knew of no such programmes. Move forward a few weeks, and I asked some colleagues at the ALIA National Advisory Congress Regional Meeting if they knew of any such programmes - the answer was no. Then, at the first meeting of the VALA 2010 Conference Committee, we realised that we had got together a list of all these American guys as potential key note speakers. Now, there is anything wrong with American guys (some of my best friends are Americans); and all the speakers on the wish list are very good... BUT WHERE ARE THE WOMEN? I mean to say, we work in a feminised profession (and there is nothing wrong with that either) but are there enough women working in the IT / networks / systems end of Libraryland, and if not, why not?

It was therefore refreshing to catch up with Ms Vita Lingus during the Melbourne International Film Festival. For those who don't know Vita, she is (and I quote from her blog) "a well-known Goddess who lives on the only Mountain in Darebin. Her column is an inspired look at her world and her attitudes to love, spiritual matters world politics and the less examined issues of life in the 21 century." Vita is also known as Grandma Blogger (not that she is old, though she is wise), because she has been blogging since at least 2002. In the Bloggersphere, this is like saying you were blogging before the last ice age! One of Vita's interests is the role of women and technology. See the tricky way I am bringing the threads together. Well check out Vita's blog at www.vitalingus.com, and the 2007 Sydney Morning Herald article Women bloggers blossom.

As an aside, one of the probably unanticipated impacts of Helen Blower's Learning 23 things programme is that it has got a lot more librarians (and therefore women) blogging and interested in Web 2.0 technology, and this has to be a good thing.

So, here's a suggestion for all the female readers of this blog. Go to the online community for women who blog at www.blogher.com, join up, discuss, blog, whatever, but just do it! And if there are any female IT gurus from outside Libraryland who have stumbled across this post, don't forget to consider a career in libraries. There are a lot of libraries out there who have lots of technology you can play... I mean work with. :-)

1 comment:

Bibliothekia said...

There is a book from MIT press titled "Women and Information Technology: Research on Underrepresentation", Edited by J. McGrath Cohoon and William Aspray. For details go to http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=10924 .

The first part of the publisher summary states "Computing remains a heavily male-dominated field even after twenty-five years of extensive efforts to promote female participation. The contributors to Women and Information Technology look at reasons for the persistent gender imbalance in computing and explore some strategies intended to reverse the downward trend. The studies included are rigorous social science investigations; they rely on empirical evidence--not rhetoric, hunches, folk wisdom, or off-the-cuff speculation about supposed innate differences between men and women."