Museums as a Pink-Collar Profession: The Consequences and How to Address Them

In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 49.5-percent of U.S. museum staff are women, a decrease of less than half a percentage point from its recent high of 50.1-percent in 2017. While nationally the field is precariously gender balanced, women dominate specific museum departments — HR and development, for example — as well as positions in education and conservation. In many smaller museums, women make up the entire workforce.

If the overall workforce numbers continue to grow, even at a modest 2-percent per year, in a decade women will quickly constitute 70-percent of the national museum workforce. Given the overwhelming majority of women currently in museum studies graduate programs, as well as the field’s junior ranks, a
scenario where women constitute a majority of the workforce is highly likely, promising long-term effects for the field, not all of them positive.

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