Multidisciplinarity and collaboration

Digital Preservation

Image by zipckr via Flickr

One of the impediments to collaboration between content information professionals (librarians, records managers, archivists) and technology information professionals (computer scientists, geeks, information systems people) may be because of the feminised nature of, in particular, librarianship, and the masculinised nature of computer scientists and technology in general. Of course, these are rather large claims, but still seem to exist. Sandy Payette, chief executive officer of Duraspace was featured as the ‘Wednesday Geek Woman on Februrary 9, 2011 and recognized for her groundbreaking work on the original Fedora repository architecture as part of a research project that included collaborators at Cornell University and University of Virginia. Read the post here The post calls attention to the fact that the field of digital preservation echoes the gender disparity found in other male dominated high tech fields:

Software development around digital librarianship and digital preservation is overwhelmingly male-dominated, despite the larger numbers of women among librarians and archivists in general. Many of the women in digital preservation are Women near Tech, doing wonderful, important work, but not the fundamentals of software architecture and development. So Sandy’s contributions to the field become even more apparent given the strange gender disparities of digital preservation.”

Michele Kimpton, currently chief business officer of DuraSpace and also a notable “Geek Woman”, will assume the role of chief executive officer on March 1, 2011. Kimpton was recently featured by the Library of Congress as a “Digital Preservation Pioneer” for her work in developing entrepreneurial, community-driven and culturally sensitive approaches to creating tools and strategies in support of digital archiving ( See also for more on this topic. Perhaps gender isn’t as much of a problem as some think it is – although there is no doubt that there are still a number of gender issues in many countries: Italy, for example. I have suggested that differences in understanding the concepts of data, information and knowledge can make communication between disciplines and cultures difficult: gender may be an issue too.  What other possible obstacles do you think exist that inhibit or prevent collaboration between these disciplines/professions? All the bestSue