The women of PLEI

February 20, 2007

During my eastern site visits, one topic that came up in several interviews was the disproportionate number of women on PLEI organization staffs. Because in this research I often find that I’m the only male in the room, I knew that this was a fact, but I thought I would take a stab at determining just how disproportionate gender really is in Canadian PLEI.

Here’s a first sketch of gender representation in funded PLEI projects in the provinces. I’ve tallied the number of men and women on the staffs of the ten PLEI organizations that receive annual core funding support from Justice Canada. From that tally, I calculated the overall percentages of men and women (1) total, (2) employed to do mainly PLEI program work, and (3) serving as executive director in those organizations. Here are those percentages charted:

Note a couple things. First, the chart is a draft—I compiled the numbers quickly, from staff rosters on hand and my own recollection; I might get more rigorous about this later. Second, I’m not (yet) going to speculate why there are so many more women providing PLEI or what that means for the field; but you are welcome (and encouraged) to, in the comments.


One Response to “The women of PLEI”

  1. Lois Gander Says:

    Ritchie, when I did my thesis on the history of PLE, I noticed another gendered phenomenon. At that time almost all the written work on PLE was authored by men! Since mine was an “academic” work and I had to have “academic” authority for what I was doing, the work of key women in PLE, like Gail Dykstra, Meg (Richeson) Horn, Penny Bain, Carol McEown, and others who had been prominent in setting up Peoples Law School, CLEO, and services in the Atlantic provinces were entirely silent and invisible. We hope to go some way in correcting this imbalance by interviewing a number of librarians (many of whom were women) who have been instrumental in the formation and development of PLE.


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