Women and Archives — Living with Legacies

And now for something not so very different

The subtitle of this blog talks about four archivists’ battles with legacy description. And it’s true that what we have in common is that we’re all in technical services roles at big institutions, dealing with big problems at a big scale. This means that we’re constantly on the look-out for automated fixes and methodical approaches. This blog is a way for us to help each other think through challenges, and to publish our results as we find them, with the hope of helping others.

It’s also true that we’re all women who take our involvement in the profession very seriously. Some of the legacies we face aren’t just the clean-up work we have to do — it’s also a legacy of gender, race, and class inequity within the profession. Obviously, none of us are overtly suffering. But there are weird things that we notice in our workplaces, in search committees, and in the wider dynamics of who has power in the profession that make our lives harder than they need to be. Most challenging is that even though there’s pretty good information out there to show that inequities persist, it’s very rare that this is treated as a problem at the institutional or professional level.

Perhaps you’ve asked yourself some of the following questions:

  • Why do I feel like it’s so hard to break through as a domain expert?
  • Why did that guy get promoted/hired when he has less experience and gets less done than the rest of us?
  • Is it just me, or am I getting an especially surprised/negative reaction to this salary negotiation?
  • Why are my colleagues treating my paid family leave like a special favor?
  • Why do I feel reluctant to promote my work? Why wasn’t my work publicized? Why do others take credit for my work?
  • Why doesn’t anyone expect me to be interested in technology? Why is it so hard to find opportunities to learn?
  • I really wish that folks would stop characterizing my reasonable ideas/comments/critiques as “emotional.”
  • With a full-time job and family care responsibilities, I don’t know how I’m going to volunteer time to my professional organization.
  • Why doesn’t my organization have paid family leave?
  • I have a master’s degree and a very specialized skill set. Why do I make so little money?

Over the next two weeks, we’re going to be writing blog posts that address these and other concerns in the context of institutional/professional/social legacies. We are speaking from our own experiences and from the perspective of having lived our lives as white women. However, it’s not a secret that men and women of color in our profession face an intersection similar issues, as well as a whole different set. I’m not in a position to speak authentically to these experiences, but we would welcome any writers that might have something to say.

We hope that you’ll comment, and perhaps even join in. That having been said, this is our space. Comments will be moderated. I’m too old to reply to anti-feminist mythologies regurgitated by strangers on the internet.

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2 thoughts on “Women and Archives — Living with Legacies

  1. I’m really glad you all have decided to talk about these issues on the blog, and look forward to the conversation.

  2. Pingback: Chaos —> Order | Wrap Up – Women in Archives

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