Pink Collar Workers In The Digital Age: Technology And Gender In Academic Libraries

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Conference Papers -- International Communication Association


Collins Memorial Library


Since the first implementation of technology in academic libraries, the computer has affected all phases of library operation. College and university libraries are undergoing profound and undoubtedly permanent changes. Research reveals that technological change has a different impact on women workers than it has on men. It shapes the way in which work is conducted and by whom. What, then, are the implications for academic libraries, where the workforce is predominately female? This paper attempts to address this question. We begin with a history of technology and libraries to provide a context for the reader. Next, we review the literature in two areas: 1) gender and technology in the workplace, and 2) gender in libraries. Evidence for the relationship of shifting gender roles due to the introduction of technology in academic libraries is supported by three studies. First, examination of data provided by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics suggests that the gender composition of libraries is changing. Second, the results of a pilot study on technology and gender in academic libraries supports the hypothesis that men are increasingly occupying technology-based positions which include higher salaries and access to administration which improves their status and empowers them to make or influence decisions. Finally, the results of a survey in one academic library suggest that although male and female librarians and library workers are equally likely to have to use technology extensively in their positions, men are less likely than women to recognize as women as technology experts.