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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Racial, ethnic and gender diversity of the U.S. museum workforce: Trends, implications and solutions
by Eichinger, Caroline E., M.S., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2009, 108; 1473686
Abstract (Summary)

Equality is currently a considerable hurdle facing all U.S. workplaces, museums being no exception. The museum field has been lagging in comparison to other industries in terms of gender and racial equality. A particularly vexing fact is that the directors of museums and the heads of museum boards overwhelmingly remain white males. Museums are seen as irrelevant, exclusionary places by many minorities who see no reason to visit a museum, much less work in one. With the rapidly changing demographics of the United States, museums in their current form are failing to provide a place relevant to the lives of all individuals. While the rest of the country improves their diversity statistics, museums remain at a standstill. What will this deadlock mean for the future of museums? How can museums join this movement to increase racial and gender diversity at all levels of their institutions and offer a workplace where everyone fells welcome and capable of success?

In order to answer these questions an extensive research study was conducted which included a survey of museums nationwide, a survey of museum studies programs, and an in-depth site visit of The Detroit Institute of Arts. The nationwide museum survey was used to gain aggregate qualitative data on the gender, racial and ethnic statistics of museum employees. The student survey was conducted in order to compare the demographics of museum employees with the demographics of students who have graduated from museum studies programs within the past ten years. Lastly, The Detroit Institute of Arts was chosen for a site visit in order to gain qualitative data based on their survey responses.

Overall, a striking discrepancy was uncovered between the employment and types of positions held by individuals based upon their gender and race. By combining the survey results with ideas from the case study, four pressing solutions for increasing staff diversity in the future were developed. These changes include an increase in museum studies training and museum internships, a deep reflection of internal practices by museum professionals, a change in the nature and structure of U.S. workplaces, and a commitment to long-term collaborations with minority communities.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hakala, Jim S. H.
Commitee: Aldama, Arturo, Wenger, Angela
School: University of Colorado at Boulder
Department: Museum Studies
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: MAI 48/03M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Ethnic studies, Organizational behavior, Museum studies, Gender studies
Keywords: Diversity, Ethnic, Gender, Museum, Racial, Staff, United States
Publication Number: 1473686
ISBN: 978-1-109-58080-8
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