The challenges around getting women into male-dominated professions is a little different from the challenges of getting men into women-dominated professions. For one thing, professions that are female-dominated are notoriously low-paying and low-status (think K-12 teachers, nursing, social workers, etc). These professions do have major recruiting problems, largely because they are low-paying, often considered to be undesirable, and they have high levels of stress burnout. When men choose to enter these fields, they often are promoted more quickly and paid more than women. There are many professions where this is true. Women outnumber men as K-12 teachers, but men outnumber women as K-12 principals and school superintendents. Women make up the majority of bank tellers, but men make up the majority of bank managers. Women make up the majority of librarians, but men make up the majority of the higher-paying technology jobs in libraries. Sensing a pattern yet? THAT is what we are trying to disrupt. 

Don't get me wrong, getting more men into nursing is a good thing too! The fact that men are less likely to put up with low wages, bad working conditions, or disrespectful colleagues can work in everyone's favor, and the field of nursing in particular has faced such problems with recruiting that they are trying to undergo a major cultural shift. Male nurses have been a part of that. Obviously I am not a nurse, but I do have a close relative who authored a study on this subject for a nursing school, so I have heard a bit about it. 

I highly recommend the book "Women Don't Ask" (, which is a great book for anyone who wants to know more about effective negotiating. (Read it before your next salary negotiation!) The book discusses why men tend to ask for better treatment, better salaries, more opportunities, etc, while women more often accept whatever they are given. This is learned behavior that we can learn to change, though. I think a place like code4lib, where there is so much opportunity to speak up or spark initiatives without any hierarchy or bureaucracy getting in the way, can be a fertile ground for women who want to develop their negotiation and leadership skills, as well as their technical capacity. My entire career has been shaped around stuff I learned in code4lib, and only some of it was about code. 


On Nov 27, 2012, at 7:56 AM, "Huwig,Steve" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

I'm just the peanut gallery (having never attended Code4Lib) but it
> seems to me that a useful analogue to programming/tech conferences --
> which Code4Lib surely is -- would be conferences aimed at professional
> nurses.
> Do those conference organizers take measures to increase the number of
> male attendees? If so, what do they do?
> Just throwing ideas out there,
> Steve Huwig