Dissertation Information for Amber L. Wells
MPACT Status: Fully Complete
Title: Inequality at work: Socio-demographic disparities in the careers of library and information science graduates
Abstract: In this dissertation, I analyze the career experiences of library and information science (LIS) alumni who graduated from one of five LIS programs in North Carolina between 1964 and 2007. The long-term career experiences of LIS graduates are largely unknown, which is due, in part, to the lack of a systematic tracking system for these alumni. Using a sociological approach, I examine racial and gender disparities in work duties performed by managers, indicators of job quality, and risk of involuntary job loss. In the first chapter, I provide a brief demographic overview of the LIS workforce and economic trends impacting its workers. In the second chapter, I find that using student loans to fund one’s LIS graduate degree is associated with lower salaries and less job security (but none of the other five measures of job quality) and discuss what this might mean for professions that require advanced degrees yet offer relatively low salaries. In the third chapter, I find that non-white managers have lower odds of performing 6 of the 11 job functions measured and that the set of job functions performed by male and female managers is similar with the exception of human resources, which women have 38% lower odds of performing. In light of these results, I discuss the possibility that job functions may be a mechanism that produces racial disparities in upward job mobility. In the fourth chapter, I find that involuntary job loss is a rare event in the LIS field (8.7%) and is associated with lower job quality. This relationship is conditioned by both race and gender and the implications for meeting diversity goals are discussed. In the final chapter, I summarize and discuss the main findings, implications for academic literature and the LIS field, and suggest some directions for future research.
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