My latest research project is validating a library leadership survey. The survey is based on the Martin Definition of Leadership
Leadership is influencing followers through the creation and managing of organizational meaning, building and maintaining relationships, and the consistent demonstration of professional and managerial competence.
and measures the three main areas: meaning, relationships, and competency. The manuscript is currently under review.
In order to validate the survey, I needed to collect data in order to determine the survey’s alpha as well as do factor analysis. But since I had all this data, I thought I would analyze it as well. I ran descriptive statistics, compared means, and looked for correlations. What stood out most was the comparison of means for professional and managerial competence. For these questions respondents – librarians and library staff – rated their library director/dean/university librarian on how good of a librarian they are.
Male leaders were statistically significantly lower than female leaders in followers’ perceptions of how good a librarian they are. Click on the picture below to enlarge and view the SPSS output. 1 = male, 2 = female, and 4 = non-binary/non-conforming/other OR unable to answer.
Now, this is not a representative sample, and we cannot extrapolate to the profession as a whole. The data I gathered for the first version of this survey did not have the same results, but it is something to think about. In female dominated professions like librarianship, men are often fast-tracked for leadership roles, so fast in fact they do not gain proper front-line librarian skills. Now, being a good reference librarian or cataloger does not make one a good department head, branch manager, or library director/dean, but anyone in a leadership role needs to understand the work of the library and what front-line librarians and library staff do on a daily basis. Without that knowledge, a library leader has a much harder time being accepted in an applied profession like librarianship.
What we need to focus on then is identifying competent, qualified women to mentor and develop into leadership roles. We also need to make sure that whoever we put in charge of a library is in fact a good librarian.