Sunday, March 11, 2018

Women in Knowledge Management (or any male-dominated field)

Stan Garfield posted a list of  KM Thought Leaders.  I don't think the list is new but it circulated recently on LinkedIn, which is where I saw it. The great majority of the thought leaders on that list are men.  I am re-posting here the names of women who were on that list.  The idea is 1) to give the women more visibility with a separate list; 2) to point out that perhaps there are many more women thought leaders in KM who need to be added to this list.

Ironically, posting the list on this blog will do little to increase visibility, but that's only a first step.

For those interested, there is a Women in KM LinkedIn Group.  It's "unlisted".  I assume there is a reason for keeping it unlisted but I don't know what it is. I shall inquire. I've been a member of the group and never contributed anything (my bad).

There was also a recent article in RealKM by Bruce Boyes about the issue of gender equity in KM (thank you to Boris Jaeger for pointing me in that direction).  The article seemed to point to the fact that the field of KM isn't immune to broader societal inequalities.  There is nothing surprising about that and I can't disagree. Having experienced some gender inequality frustrations of my own.  As a woman, I have a good sense of how it has affected my career.  I can't say I have good answers or solutions other than to become more vocal about it AND take responsibility for some of it as well.

While I happen to be more sensitive to gender bias, there are probably other biases embedded in that list.  How many are not US-based for example?

First NameLast Name
V. MaryAbraham
Gone but not forgotten
Moved on to other focus area or retired

3/16/2018 - Correction: Adding women I had omitted from the original list.

  • Alex Bennet
  • Jo Ann Girard
  • Joitske Hulsebosch
  • Bronwyn Stuckey
  • Beverly Wenger-Trayner

Do I want to be on that list?  
Am I upset because I'm not on the list?  Yes and no.  A year ago I could not have cared less but now as an independent consultant with my own business to worry about, yes, I do need to worry about not being on that list and I may need to figure out what it takes to get the recognition and visibility.  Perhaps it's not that specific list I need to worry about but more what it represents (free advertising).  Do I think I should be on that list right now? I am not able to answer with a resounding "YES", whereas most men would not hesitate.  THAT is the problem!

What am I going to do about it?
  • Learn more about women thought leaders in KM: I don't know more than 1/3 of the women on that list.  I probably should.  I therefore commit to learning more about their thought leadership.
  • Identity other women leaders in KM: Reach out to the women on the list and women in the "Women in KM" LinkedIn group to expand the list.
  • Become more active in the "Women in KM" LinkedIn group
  • Increase my networking with women in KM in my local area

Boyes, B. (2018). Improving gender equality in knowledge management: Is there a gender imbalance in KM, and if there is, what should we do about it? RealKM.  URL: 

Garfield, S. KM Thought Leaders.


Stan Garfield said...

Barbara, thanks for your post. here are additional women on the list:
1. Alex Bennet
2. Jo Ann Girard
3. Joitske Hulsebosch
4. Bronwyn Stuckey
5. Beverly Wenger-Trayner

The issue of possible cultural/geographic bias in the list was raised when I first published it. I encouraged suggested additions, and as a result, the list grew from 50 to 100 to 200. Suggested additions are still welcome.

Here is a link to an article about thought leadership

Here are my suggestions for becoming a KM thought leader:
1. Present at respected conferences such as APQC, KMWorld, or SLA
2. Present during community of practice events such as the SIKM Leaders Community calls
3. Publish in respected periodicals such as KM journals
3. Publish book(s) and/or book chapter(s)
4. Write a regular blog
5. Tweet regularly about the field
6. Publish presentations in SlideShare
7. Be interviewed for an article or a podcast, and/or conduct and post interviews
8. Regularly post, reply, and answer questions in community of practice threaded discussions
9. Regularly answer questions in Quora
10. Lead or help lead a community of practice

I applaud your stated intent; I think it's great. I will be glad to help you in any way I can.

Barbara Fillip said...

Thank you Stan. Excellent suggestions. I intend to propose a presentation at KMWorld for next fall. That should be a good starting point. :)