1st Edition

Women in the Museum Lessons from the Workplace

By Joan H. Baldwin, Anne W. Ackerson Copyright 2017
    232 Pages 40 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    232 Pages 40 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The number of women working in museum settings has grown exponentially since the start of the twentieth century. Women in the Museum explores the professional lives of the sector’s female workforce today and examines the challenges they face working in what was, until recently, a male-dominated field.

    Drawing on testimony gathered from surveys, focus groups, and interviews with female museum professionals, the book examines the nature of gender bias in the profession, as well as women’s varied responses to it. In doing so, it clarifies how women’s work in museums differs from men’s and reveals the entrenched nature of gender bias in the museum workplace. Offering a clear argument as to why museums must create, foster, and protect an equitable playing field, the authors incorporate a gender equity agenda for individuals, institutions, graduate programs, and professional associations.

    Written by experienced museum professionals, Women in the Museum is the first book to examine the topic in depth. It is useful reading for students and academics in the fields of museum studies and gender studies, as well as museum professionals and gender equality advocates.


    Introduction: A Message from the Authors

    Prologue: The Myths

    1. Why Gender (Still) Matters in a Post-Feminist World

    2. Founders, Philanthropists, Volunteers, and Professionals: The Historical Impact of Women on Museums

    3. The Face in the Mirror: A Portrait of Women Working in Museums Today

    4. Still the Boys’ Club: Gender Equity and the Board of Trustees

    5. Death by a Thousand Cuts: How Stereotypes Affect Women in the Museum Workplace

    6. The Thought Bubble Over Our Heads: Language and Stereotyping

    7. Women at Work in MuseumLand: What and How in Their Own Words

    8. Museum Women and Family Ties

    9. Single at Work

    10. What Makes a Great Museum Workplace for Women

    11. What the Next Generation of Women Want (and Expect) from Their Museum Careers

    12. Groundhog Day: The Women in Museum Time Loop

    Epilogue: Gender, Power, Influence, and Responsibility

    Gender Equity Agenda

    Additional Resources for Readers


    Joan H. Baldwin is co-founder of the Gender Equity in Museums Movement and a former museum director. She is currently the Curator of Special Collections at The Hotchkiss School, USA, and is co-author of Leadership Matters (2013).

    Anne W. Ackerson is co-founder of the Gender Equity in Museums Movement and a former director of the Museum Association of New York, USA. She has managed a number of museums across New York State and is co-author of Leadership Matters (2013).

    "Women in the Museum is a bold study that corrects erroneous impressions that, because more women than men are entering the museum workforce, inequities have been banished. Alas, they are alive and well, as is carefully delineated here with ample evidence by the authors. Brief histories of significant – if often forgotten – females in museum history, together with sometimes hair-raising accounts from current workers, will enlighten those committed to institutional inclusion."
    Amy Levin, Northern Illinois University, USA

    Women in the Museum should be required reading for [those] both emerging museum professionals and seasoned leaders wishing to address the longstanding and often unspoken problem of gender bias in the field. I especially appreciate the candid view into the lives of real women, past and present, making vital contributions to all aspects of the museum workplace. As established advocates of women in leadership positions, Baldwin and Ackerson provide concrete strategies for achieving gender equity across the profession."
    Paula J. Birnbaum, University of San Francisco, USA

    "Baldwin and Ackerson give readers a solid stepping stone to discovering more about the history of women in museums and encourage students to look at their own nations’ historical beginnings. They also detail how women seeking a career in the heritage sector will encounter existing barriers. These lessons from the workplace provided me with confidence not to accept the status quo."                                                                                                 Greagh Smith, Victoria University of Wellington