Survey Results: Women in the Archival Profession

Results compiled by
Amy Cooper, Special Collections Librarian, University of Iowa Libraries
E. Lee Eltzroth, Consultant
August, 2002


In 2000 and 2001, the WAR Steering Committee and membership devised a survey that sought to explore the relationship between women archivists and their profession, highlighting the issues critical to women archivists and proposing a statistical analysis of those issues. Questions related to respondents' work (including their geographic location, work "climate," professional activity, education, training and responsibilities), and the balance of work and home (flextime, child and elder care, professional and personal leave), as well to working with "women's collections." The questions were then compiled and reviewed by the Steering Committee, and a final survey was established in August of 2001. The survey was completed by a total of 227 women archivists. The following is a brief summary of some of the survey's findings.

Geographical Distribution 

The greatest number of respondents came from the US Northeast (32.7%), the Midwest (23.3%), and the Southeast (21.1%). In total, these three areas east of the Rockies made up 77.1% of all respondents

Repository and Position

By far, the greatest representation was from the academic sector (50.2%), followed by government workers (18.1%). Of the respondents, the greatest majority held positions as Professional Staff (69.6%) or Non-tenured faculty (13.2%). The greatest majority of women reported their job title as Archivist (53.2%), with 32% stating that their title was "Other." 

Position Status 

87.2% of those surveyed reported that their positions were full time with benefits, and 5.7% reported that their position was part time with benefits. Fewer than 15 respondents reported receiving no benefits.

Tenure and Second Career 

A majority of respondents (33.5%) have been in the profession for 2-5 years, and 32.2% for more than 10 years. Of respondents, 52.4% stated that this was not a second career choice. 44.9% stated that it was.


Women archivists are a highly educated group, with most possessing some combination of BA (97.2%), MA (63.6%) and MLS (54.3%) degrees. Over 45% also have some archival coursework and/or workshop or institute certificates.

SAA Involvement 

Respondents were deeply involved in SAA, with 73% indicating membership in the organization and many indicating other forms of service. Only 10% indicated that they were members of WAR or the Women's Collections Roundtable


Most salaries fell in a range between $30,000 and $50,000, with the majority (36%) coming in between $30,000 and $39,000. 30.2% of the salaries reported came in between $40,000 and $49,000


Respondents reported that supervisors were 54.4% women, and 45.6% men

Working Hours 

While only 15.2% of respondents believed that they worked longer hours than their male colleagues, a majority of respondents stated that they did put in some overtime. Only 24.1% respondents put in no overtime at all. 36.6% put in between 2 - 7 hours per month, and 20.5% put in 8 - 12 hours per month. 67.1% of respondents had some form of flextime to compensate.

Conference Attendance 

67% of respondents reported that conference attendance is a factor in annual evaluation, and 42.9% reported that their repository provides the entire amount of financial support required for registration and travel to conferences and workshops. Another 42% reported that their repository provides some of the cost, and the rest is paid by the attendee.

Professional Memberships 

Almost 75% of respondents belong to SAA, and most belong to other regional, state or local US archival associations in addition.

Personal Issues

Respondents expressed a slightly higher desire to work part time, with 53.1% responding that they would like to work part time given the option. 96.8% of respondents believe that stress is a significant factor for women in the workplace.

Women's Collections 

98.7% of respondents felt that unearthing women's history continues to be important, yet only 77.1% make a concerted effort to do so and only 61.9% of respondents actually work with materials related specifically to women.