In Response to “Gender, Technology, and Libraries”
As the fields continue to diversify and become more complex, it will be crucial that a balance of men and women professionals comprise the library sciences and informational technology professions. However traditional they may have been, IT and library departments will benefit greatly from an integrated workforce rather than perpetuating the gender disparity (Lamont, 2009).
Lamont’s assertion that the lack of women in IT positions can be attributed to nature and perception accentuates the socio-cultural influence on women when determining a career path, often one that they place there themselves. Societal “assumptions that family and home responsibilities will cause women to be less able to contribute” may be a driving force, but women in these roles perpetuate such a perspective and their presumptiveness becomes their greatest obstacle (Lamont, 2009, p.140).
Qualities of professionals in IT and library sciences may appear to be masculine and feminine: hard work, commanding, driven, and competitive vs. instinctive, intuitive, innate, and nurturing (Lamont, 2009). Perhaps these qualities can be pinpointed to specific male and female traits. What cannot be undermined is the value all of these qualities contribute to every profession. Therefore, it is a balance of personal traits, qualities, talents, and work ethic that should be considered when seeking to balance these professions, not necessarily X and Y-chromosomes.
Until the culture is changed from within, traditional roles will be perpetuated. Reevaluating, redefining, and rethinking these roles as technology continues to evolve will lead to a blending of these skills. Lamont asserts (2009) “If managed properly, the best of classic library theory will combine with IT into a dynamic and diverse workforce as well as a thriving and innovative organization” (p.141).
Technology Strengths and Weaknesses Analysis
As an educator, my greatest strength has been my ability and determination to continue my own learning journey. When integrating new technology or exploring digital tools, I utilize technology as a resource to self-teach. Tools such as YouTube, Google Videos, and subscription sites such as Atmoic Learning enable me to investigate, adopt, and implement a myriad of Web 2.0 tools and hardware. I utilize colleagues and specialists in my district and networks to support my goals to integrate technology.
In addition to my commitment to life-long learning, I’ve been fortunate to serve in a leadership role providing professional development to teachers, much of which was instructional technology. My background, although in depth in many areas such as Mac hardware and applications, Promethean, and a few web-based tools, is not necessarily as broad as it could be. A lack of breadth of knowledge might lead me to miss supporting teachers’ and students’ needs. In order to improve upon this weakness, I hope to gain insight into resources that will diversify my technology knowledge base in hardware, software, and web-based tools. My initiative and drive to keep learning will allow me to improve upon my weaknesses.
Smart phone applications, in particular, are an area where I see tremendous potential for supporting digital students; however, I feel intimated by the sheer number that are out there let alone how best to determine their quality and usefulness. Learning to utilize personal devices and piloting initiatives such ad BYOD days (bring your own device), will support students’ information fluency. Information bombards students at astounding rates through their own personal devices they carry with them. If we can help students to harness the device as a tool rather than a perpetual information conduit and critically evaluate information, this will positively impact their problem solving and digital citizenship skills (Smaldino et al., 2012).
In addition to personal devices, I hope to continue to gain experience designing and maintaining engaging, interactive sites, blogs, and spaces. I envision creating a virtual space as diverse and extensive as the physical library for students and teachers that integrates traditional learning methods with 21st century literacies and skills. In order to create such a space, I will continue to experiment with and become efficient in using platforms such as Google, Posterous, WordPress, collaboration sites, etc.
A transition from the classroom or even professional development department into library and media specialist is a challenging process. Fortunately, I feel that my drive and motivation to continually learn will allow me to meet these goals as I diversify and integrate my own skill sets and qualities.
Lamont, M. (2009). Gender, Technology, and Libraries. Information Technology & Libraries, 28(3), 137-142. doi: 1837038311.
Smaldino, S.E., Lowther, D.L., Russell, J.D. (2012). Instructional Technology and Media for Learning. 10th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson.