We get a lot of questions about who will be working, or should be working, in the museum of the future, and how museums should be finding, recruiting and training these future staff members.
Any exploration of the future of the museum workforce has to start with an accurate snapshot of what we have now. So CFM commissioned an analysis based on U.S. Census data.
These numbers are based on the American Community Survey (ACS) conducted in 2009 (the most recent public dataset available in September). They will probably shift a bit when we get access to the 2010 ACS and the 2010 decennial Census. Also note that there are different ways of counting museum workers (such as by occupation) that yield different results—and the Census numbers never quite balance with numbers from other federal agencies like the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
For now, this is probably the best reflection of the current museum workforce as a whole. The workforce is:
- 80% white
- 52% male
- full of people who attended college (70%), but only 11% have a master’s degree or doctorate.
We take a broad view of the “museum workforce,” so these numbers include everyone who draws a museum paycheck—from the director of the Met to the custodian at your local historical society—and not just the professional staff. For a useful point of comparison, 87% of museum studies graduates in 2009 were women and 70% were white.
Some items for your discussion:
- What other data do we need about the current museum workforce to inform our planning?
- What do you think the workforce of the museum of the future needs to “look like”?
- If the future workforce needs to be different in its composition from the current workforce, what needs to change?
- What do we, as trainers and employers, need to do to make those changes come about?
Please weigh in using the comments section below.