Readings for the LTG Summit – get ready!

We thought it would be a good idea for everyone attending the LTG Summit to have a shared reading experience before we start the event. Below we propose several relatively short readings that will get us thinking about the various questions and challenges around technology, gender, and intersectional issues. These should give us some common vocabulary and concepts to approach our two days of conversation. We welcome comments on this page or via your own blogs (though if you blog about these, please provide a link here so we can follow the discussion).

Please consider the citations below to be required reading for the summit. (For “extra credit” there’s also a link to additional, recommended (but not required) readings at the bottom.)

We can’t wait to see you in Austin!


On demographics:

Lamont, Melissa. “Gender, Technology & Libraries.” Information Technology and Libraries, September 2009.

Abstract: A review of employment statistics and a citation analysis show that men make up the majority of the IT workforce, in libraries and in the broader workforce. Research from sociology, psychology, and women’s studies highlights the organizational and social issues that inhibit women. Understanding why women are less evident in library IT positions will help inform measures to remedy the gender disparity.

Cold hard facts in three short posts:

Bourg, Chris. “Lack of Diversity by the Numbers in Librarianship and in Book Stuff.” Feral Librarian, February 22, 2014.

Abstract: Numbers that starkly reveal the scope of the problem.


Bourg, Chris. “Working on the ‘Pipeline Problem’ in Librarianship.” Feral Librarian, March 1, 2014.

Abstract: Describes a few programs working to address the “pipeline problem” to bring a more diverse set of people to librarianship.


Bourg, Chris. “The Unbearable Whiteness of Librarianship.” Feral Librarian, March 3, 2014.

Abstract: Visuals of the extent of the diversity problem facing libraries and how radical a change we’d need to make to our demographics in order to represent our nation’s diversity.

On gendered Technology:

Wajcman, Judy. “From Women and Technology to Gendered Technoscience.” Information, Communication & Society 10, no. 3 (June 2007): 287–298.

Abstract: This paper situates current discussions of women’s position in ICTs (information and communication technologies) in the wider context of feminist debates on gender and technology. This article gives an account of both technophobia and technophilia, arguing that recent approaches drawing on the social studies of technology provide a more subtle analysis. Avoiding both technological determinism and gender essentialism, technofeminist approaches emphasize that the gender–technology relationship is fluid and flexible, and that feminist politics and not technology per se is the key to gender equality.

By our keynoter:

Williams, Christine L. “The Glass Escalator, Revisited: Gender Inequality in Neoliberal Times.” Gender & Society 27, no. 5 (October 2013): 609–629.

Access via paywalled site:
(If you do not have access to this article, please email us.)

Abstract: When women work in male-dominated professions, they encounter a “glass ceiling” that prevents their ascension into the top jobs. Twenty years ago, I introduced the concept of the “glass escalator,” my term for the advantages that men receive in the so-called women’s professions (nursing, teaching, librarianship, and social work), including the assumption that they are better suited than women for leadership positions. In this article, I revisit my original analysis and identify two major limitations of the concept: (1) it fails to adequately address intersectionality; in particular, it fails to theorize race, sexuality, and class; and (2) it was based on the assumptions of traditional work organizations, which are undergoing rapid transformation in our neoliberal era. The glass escalator assumes stable employment, career ladders, and widespread support for public institutions (e.g., schools and libraries)—which no longer characterize the job market today. Drawing on my studies of the oil and gas industry and the retail industry, I argue that new concepts are needed to understand workplace gender inequality in the 21st century.

Also if you want to see Williams in action, at the bottom of this page is a video of Williams talking about some of this work:
(Note: If you can’t see the video, try another browser. The video may only appear in Safari.)


On How Libraries are Oppressive:

De Jesus, Nina. “Why Framing Libraries as Oppressive Matters,” January 28, 2014.

Abstract: Emphasizes the need to get beyond seeing and talking about things through a personal lens and move toward looking at systemic discrimination. “We need to start working on how to make systems, policies, and institutions that allow good people with good intentions to be great.”

On Privilege:

Walker, Cecily. “On Privilege, Intersectionality, and the Librarian Image.” Cecily Walker: Librarian with Attitude, December 20, 2013.

Abstract: “I think the responsibility lies with the community as a whole to demonstrate that differences (race, gender, sexual orientation, able-bodied, etc.) aren’t just deviations, but are representative of much stronger, deeply entrenched power relations that must be challenged and dismantled if this profession hopes to diversify.”

Ternus, Christian. “Breaking Down Tech Privilege From the Inside.” Adversarial Thinking, January 17, 2014.

Abstract: Inspired by Peggy McIntosh’s “Invisible Knapsack” article (linked from this post), the author enumerates the many ways he benefits from “white guy privilege” in the tech world.


Additional recommended reading (for extra credit!)


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