To the Editor: Rachael Goldstein ends her article, "Women and health sciences librarianship" (Bull. Med. Libr. Assoc. 65: 321-329, July 1977) with an appeal to "all librarians as individuals, and the MLA as our professional voice" to face the issues of women in biomedical libraries. How do MLA members feel about women in administrative positions? Leadership and attitudes towards leadership can be reflected in the ratio of men and women in the elected and appointed offices of MLA. If 15% of MLA members are men, it would be expected that the vast majority of the elected and appointed officers are women. Using the 1976-77 Directorv of the Medical Library Association and simply counting the number of men and the number of women in the elected and appointed positions, I found that 35.5% of those offices are filled by men. Of those elected by the entire membership, 37% are men. Of those appointed by the elected officers, 37.7% are men. The accompanying Table 1 breaks down the different categories. Ms. Goldstein speaks to the issue of affirmative action and equal opportunity for women in biomedical librarianship. She is concerned that while women have no trouble entering the field,

they do not have the opportunities to advance. Ms. Goldstein's data indicate that the affirmative action issues for men in biomedical librarianship have been resolved. It also indicates that the power issues for men in a field dominated by women have also been resolved in their favor. These two issues affirmative action and power must be separated for women librarians to understand what is happening. While affirmative action issues ask the question "What can you do for me?" power issues ask the question "What can I do for myself?" In an organization such as MLA, where women do have control simply by having the majority of members, the voting patterns indicate what they do with that control. Would an organization with a membership composed of 85% men have 35% of its offices filled by women? I doubt it. An interesting observation in my simple survey is that the percentage of special interest group chairmen is the closest approximation to the number of women in MLA. Do both men and women members see the special interest groups as not crucial to power? If men control MLA in ten years then affirmative action and power issues will have been completely resolved for them. Women will have allowed the power to slip by them and affirmative action will become an issue for women within MLA. The power issue for women in MLA then is whether they are more interested in controlling


Total membership Officers elected by total membership (President, President-elect, Past President, Board of Directors, Nominating Committee) Chairmen elected by: Regional groups Special interest groups Total elected (N = 49) Offices filled by appointment: Committee chairmen Representatives Panels Officials (editors of Bulletin and MLA News, Trustee, Archivist Total appointed (N = 90) Bull. Med. Libr. Assoc. 66(1 )January 1978






40% 20% 31.25%

60% 80% 68.75%

41% 34% 36% 50% 37.77%

59% 66% 64% 50% 62.23%



their own destiny. They cannot complain that no one will allow them to do so, for their mere numbers give them the control. Do women respect and trust the leadership abilities of other women? Do women in MLA abide by the traditional belief that men are better leaders? I am not advocating that quotas be used to solve the power issue. Instead this survey of MLA offices should tell members there is a trend in women giving up power. Let the


individual members decide themselves how they react to these data. Apply them to the field of biomedical librarianship, to librarianship as a whole, and then to the issue of women in administration. Only then can MLA as our professional voice indicate to society how we feel about women and health sciences librarianship. KAREN S. AMBROSE Chicago, Illinois

Bull. Med. Libr. Assoc. 66(1 )January 1978

Power, women, and MLA.

Letters POWER, WOMEN, AND MLA To the Editor: Rachael Goldstein ends her article, "Women and health sciences librarianship" (Bull. Med. Libr. Assoc. 6...
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