Strategic Librarian

Using strategy to develop the law firm library.

On Cleopatra, Gender Inequity, and Salary Stagnation

In a blog post today titled Cleopatra & Law Librarians, Mary Abraham suggested that (based on a recent biography), Cleopatra would not likely take on the job of a law librarian in today’s world because of the pay inequity in our profession which is largely female.  She further asked why we do it given that our pay is generally less than our male counterparts (even those who are librarians).  Three Geek’s Greg Lambert left a comment on that posting suggesting we do it for hearts and stars.

Given her situation, I don’t believe Cleopatra would ever agree to being a law librarian or any librarian for that matter.  Hearts and stars may be seen as some form of compensation by some librarians but it does not make up for inequity in pay.  So, why do we do it?

I think for most, it is because we love what we do.  We love the intellectual challenge research brings, the atmosphere created by the very intelligent people we work with, the creativity that comes with solving problems and more.

I also think that we are partly to blame for the state of our salaries.  Yes, gender inequity is partly the problem, but, I think that if we did a study we would find that most of us stay in positions longer than our male counterparts in any profession.  I was once told (by a law firm HR director) that the wages for law librarians in Minnesota (where I live) is stagnant because we stayed in one job for long periods of time.  I expect that is true in most cities.  The HR director went on to say that a profession needs movement to see job increases that aren’t tied to annual cost of living or other influences in salary. 

No movement, no risk, no increase in pay.  Have you stayed too long in your position?

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