One of the things I have noticed in my LIS courses so far, is the fact that the topics I have learned that have impacted me the most have been areas I would consider weak points for me; These areas are also traditionally masculine topics like finance and computer science.
I told my brother that I had learned about database management, my favourite class from last semester. The tone of his response was blasé: ‘You didn’t know that?’ No, I was never taught that. In fact, though I have some vague memory of computer science classes in junior high, the content was Microsoft office suite products—not computer networks, the internet, nor databases.
In Business and Industry Information, we had a guest lecture from a financial adviser yesterday. This lecture was a fantastic financial literacy learning opportunity. I have to say that I learned quite a bit about all the different types of investments. Equity, bonds, and GIC’s were all things I have no memory of ever learning about. Yet, personally, this is incredibly important for my future. It seems clear to me that financial literacy is something info professionals need to know both for themselves, and to assist patrons with.
I heard a talk from Lesley Scorgie a few years ago and still think about the idea she presented that little girls are very rarely taught about finances, but little boys are. I may have had a piggy bank, but no one ever sat down with me and explained how banks and investments work. Recently I asked my father about electronics and he was explaining to me a bit about how electronics work. I have come vague memory of learning how a simple circuit worked in science in elementary school, but my father never sat down with me and shared his own electrical knowledge.
As a result of how much I have enjoyed breaking out of my comfort zone and learning about these previously unknown areas, it occurred to me that these classes are a sort of gender equalization for the female-majority masters students. Several female students had a basis in these topics, so I do not want to overgeneralize, but I can say anecdotally that comments in classes about finance and computer science are male dominated in a predominantly female program. I do not think this is coincidental.
Although there is a requirement to take at least one technology class for this program, in light of my experience, I would advocate that it is incredibly important for LIS students to take courses outside of their comfort zones to widen their literacy in all areas.