About The Author

David Grabitske

David Grabitske is the manager of outreach services at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota.

American Historical Association released a study on What the Data Reveals about Women Historians. Of particular interest is the final chart showing the change among public history workers from 1979 to 2009. In support of the chart, the ratio of men to women in the State Historic Preservation Office at the Minnesota Historical Society has gone from 8 men and 5 women in 2000, to 6 men and 11 women in 2010.

What factors contribute to this trend? What remedies might you suggest to encourage more men to enter the public history field? Or, is this trend appropriate, inevitable, or not a factor for the health of the public history profession?

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2 Responses to Is Public History Women’s Work?

  1. Connie Lies says:

    Gender is irrelevant to the quality of the work. We have seen more women working at our local Historical Society Museum because more women applied. Both our men and our women do a wonderful job and I would not trade any of them. The women do say that it is harder to find a position and that as they either reach retirement or as they enter a work force they are able to work for less. While younger men have said they need to move to a higher paying position. I believe that work in the social sciences has fallen behind in the overall trend of paying more. It is stuck in the 60″s as they say. If the reason for the shift in employees is tied to compensation then it is a detrimental trend.
    If it is an image thing that men see social science work as less than “manly” then it is a reflection of society and is detrimental to society as a whole. That we MUST erase. Much as we needed to work out the old stigma of male nurses.


  2. Connie is correct in that gender and quality are not directly correlated. Nor should they be.

    However, there is also perception issue to deal with.

    When I entered the local history field a few years back, the joke was that I would be, as a man in his mid-20s, far outnumbered by the women in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. While even in the early 90s the demographic makeup of the profession had begun to change, the image of local history museums being staffed by bun sporting, Buick-driving, semi-retired ladies had not.

    I would be curious to see how in this state the gender ratio at the local level has changed. Any stats on that David?


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