Celebrating National Women’s History Month

During the entire month of March, the ALA Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship (COSWL) will recognize and celebrate women’s achievements with National Women’s History Month.

National Women’s History Month traces its origins back to March 8, 1857, when women from New York City factories staged a protest over working conditions. International Women’s Day was later observed in 1909 on that date and is currently observed on March 8 each year. In 1981, the U.S. Congress designated the second week of March National Women’s History Week, and in 1987 Congress expanded it to a month-long observance.

According to a report published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor StatisticsWomen in the Labor Force: A Databook, women make up a little over 83 percent of the library profession. The report also indicates that women were disproportionally affected by the pandemic-induced recession in the spring of 2020, in part reflecting their overrepresentation in some of the hardest hit sectors of the economy. In 2020, the share of women who participated in the labor force fell by 1.2 percentage points to 56.2 percent, the lowest rate since 1987, and nearly 4 percentage points below the peak of 60.0 percent in 1999. This decline in 2020 reflects the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the labor market.

Over the years, the ALA women’s groups have helped to develop evaluative tools, guidelines, and programs to enhance the opportunities and the image of women in the library profession.