The museum profession in Aotearoa New Zealand: A case study in economic restructuring and investigating the movement towards feminisation
Thesis DisciplineFeminist Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This study investigates the impact of economic restructuring and the movement towards feminisation of the museum profession in Aotearoa New Zealand in the period 1984 - 1999. Radical economic and structural changes were imposed on most public sector organisations by the fourth Labour Government (1984-1990) and the subsequent National Government (1990-1999). During this time, museums increased the numbers and ratio of women employed in professional roles at such a rate that it cannot be wholly accounted for by the introduction of Equal Employment Opportunities legislation (EEO) and improved education and employment opportunities for women. This thesis explores three factors that contributed to this increase. First, the impact of the restructuring policies paved the way for a new business ethos to enter and reshape museum practice in unprecedented ways since 1984, shifting from a public service model into a public management culture of competitiveness and commercialisation. Second, transformations in the sector already occurring prior to 1984 involving democratic ideals instigated a shift in the museum's conception of their public; improving public access, increasing the museum's popularity and serving under-represented audiences. Third, a shift in perception ofthe museum visitor since 1984 from citizen to consumer has in tum led to greater emphasis of the customer service role and contributed to a decline in the status of museum work. The devaluation of museum work can be linked to the dramatic employment growth of women in the museum sector. This growth is evaluated in terms offeminisation theory but only in so far as the increased importance of customer service work roles in the museum sector are associated with the "feminine". Qualitative data from semistructured interviews with 17 mid-career museum professionals is utilised as a means to conceptualise, describe and assess the effects of economic restructuring, the introduction of the new management model and the relationship to feminisation.