On Not Going to WAR, but It’s an Honor Being Asked

Archivist moms are not all thin, white, background-neutral blondes with snazzy jewelry. We come in all shapes, sizes, colors, ethnic backgrounds, and inabilities to accessorize.

Last month I received an email encouragement to nominate myself for a position on SAA’s Women Archivists Roundtable (WAR) Steering Committee. I let out a hearty “Hah!” Then a “Huh?” Then a “Hmm.”

After asking the suggester if my inactive status was known (it was), I said I’d consider.

A post I’d written a while ago was read by a few people, then a few more, and eventually became a minor thing that sparked a conversation on a huge issued that’s been known, lived, breathed, and experienced for ages but is finally getting a lot of attention now.

That’s what lead to the email encouragement.

I’m honored and grateful. I truly am. Thank you, email encourager.

I did not apply for a few reasons I don’t want to commit to public pixels. But I did write up a position statement/nomination thing before ultimately deciding “no.” This is what the voting members of the Women Archivists Roundtable would have seen:

“Motherhood penalties” and the dreaded “motherhood gap”  on a woman’s resume have been in the news as of late — and I know them well. I was “priced out” of my associate archivist position because childcare costs exceeded my salary, and I could not find other positions because of the dreaded gap on my resume. As an archivist on hiatus, I didn’t feel my presence, experience or say was valid, necessary or even welcome because of my inactive status. This was based on interactions with those outside our profession and within.

While I’m probably in the vocal minority, I am likely not the only woman archivist who has left the field because of her familial duties. If elected to the Steering Committee, I would do my best to represent women archivists who felt left out of the conversation after leaving the workforce and work towards making SAA and the archival field a place where these issues will not only be discussed, but overcome.


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