geeks and cheerleaders

Reconceptualizing librarianship, reinventing the profession, blah blah blah. I think a lot of folks are rightly interested in changing the work model for librarians. But from my viewpoint, when we do this, we too often whitewash or downplay the fact that we do spend much of our days doing service and administrative oriented things like removing staples, being nice and helpful, and cleaning up vomit, and for generally low salaries. So, despite the fact that our professional discourse is tech-wise, we’re not quote-unquote geeks, we don’t work like them, and we don’t get paid like them. So, seriously, read the insanely widespread “8 Things Intelligent People, Geeks, and Nerds Need to Work Happily” post from Nomadishere with a good sized grain of salt. While flexibility and lifestyle considerations are the key tenets of this thing, they’re presented as they apply to well-paid young white guys with tattoos, not to working mothers or anyone else who may not fit into office norms for reasons other than their dislike of sports.

There’s also a growing number of media studies of women in service jobs, namely, the recent fascination with cheerleaders-turned-drug reps. We can and should read ourselves into these types of stories, even if there are rarely cheerleaders-turned-librarians. The Times feature brings up many points, such as the prevalence of sexual harassment in the field. The Brazen Careerist picked up on this story, with her own take on gender in sales and service jobs. I find her frank take on sexual harassment informative, if a little horrifying. I’m willing to admit that I’m fascinated by Penelope Trunk and her brand of career advice, and her closing bit to the cheerleader article is something that ambitious librarians should keep in mind, despite its emphasis on attractiveness.“Outgoing, good-looking women can have great careers in sales — or anywhere else they want to go. So go into the workforce with talent and ambition and create the life you want. Really.”

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2 Responses to geeks and cheerleaders

  1. Hi. Thanks for linking to Brazen Careerist. You fascinate me, as well. I grew up pretty much living in the library after school. Fun to read what librarians blog about. As a kid hanging out with librarians, of course I thought they only thought about books 🙂

    Penelope

  2. Mimi says:

    Thanks for your feedback, Penelope! Librarians definitely talk about the topics you cover, like finding a career path as a young woman, creating a niche for your work and getting what you want from your career. I think that we also encounter sexism and sexual harrassment with alarming frequency.

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