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Glossary of Terms

Throughout the report, we use aggregated categories guided by participants’ self-identified racial and ethnic groups. These categories include Asian or Asian American (including East Asian—Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Tibetan, and Taiwanese; South Asian—Bangladeshi, Bhutanese, Indian, Nepali, Pakistani, and Sri Lankan; Southeast Asian—Burmese, Cambodian, Filipino, Hmong, Indonesian, Laotian, Malaysian, Mien, Singaporean, Thai, and Vietnamese); Black or African American; Latinx (including Hispanic, Latina, Latino, or Latinx); MENA (Middle Eastern or North African); Native American/Alaska Native; Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander; white or European American; or Other (defined as another race or ethnicity). Participants also had the option to select “prefer not to answer” and to select as many racial or ethnic groups that apply to them. Those who selected multiple racial/ethnic groups were identified as multiracial and included in the racial or ethnic groups they selected (e.g., a participant that selected Asian and Black would be reflected within both of these groups as well as multiracial). At points in the study, we also refer to “POC,” or people of color, where trends in the data exhibited similar experiences for workers of color, which includes any participant who self-identifies as Asian or Asian American, Black or African American, Latinx, Middle Eastern or North African, Native American/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, or multiracial.
Similar to race/ethnicity, study participants were able to choose their gender identity. In the report, gender choices included woman, man, and non-binary or other gender (including gender queer, third gender, and another gender). Nonbinary is an umbrella term used to encompass the identities of participants who fall outside of the man-woman gender binary and those who experience gender fluidity or do not identify with a particular gender identity. Participants also had the option to select “prefer not to answer” or to select as many gender identities that apply.
In the report, we aggregated generation cohorts based on participants’ birth years. Where significant trends emerged from the data, we referred to generation-specific categories including Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964), Gen X (born 1965–1980), Millennials (born 1981–1996), and Gen Z (born 1997–2012). “Gen” is sometimes used here as shorthand for “generation.” Given that the study focused on working-aged participants, we do not have data for the youngest generation (Gen Alpha, born 2013–2023), nor do we have data for the oldest generation (Silent Generation, born 1928–1945).
Participants were asked to identify their current position level in their museum. In the report, we often compare the experiences of workers based on seniority, or position level within their museum. Seniority levels include Entry level, Experienced (non-manager roles), Manager (with one or more direct reports), Director level, and Executive (museum leadership). Participants could only select one position level but also had the option to select “prefer not to answer.”
In key places in the report, we include trends by museum department. Participants were able to identify the department category of their current positions. Departments include the following types of roles with classifications aligned with the Mellon’s Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey taxonomy: administration (membership/development, museum leadership, DEAI (diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion), finance, HR, IT (information technology), support/administration, research/evaluation), building operations (preparation, gardens/grounds, facilities, food services, security, retail and store, exhibitions design, janitorial), collections (collections information and management, conservation, curatorial, registration, library), communications (publications/editorial, rights/reproductions, marketing/public relations, digital strategy), and public engagement (education, public engagement, visitor services). Based on feedback from the cognitive interviews we conducted with museum staff, three additional types of roles were added to the list used in the Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey: research and evaluation, janitorial services, and collections information and management.
For the purposes of this study, we provided participants with a list of identity-based categories—including gender, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, social or economic status, religion, age, disability status, or another form—of discrimination or harassment. We did not define discriminating or harassing behavior, trusting participants to identify it based on their own lived experiences. Given the sensitive nature of discrimination and other harmful workplace experiences, participants were also able to select “prefer not to answer.” We also asked about the frequency of discrimination and harassment, which we broke down into rarely (one or two times in their entire tenure at their current museum), sometimes (a few times a year), often (a few times a month), and very frequently (daily or almost daily). In the chapter on discrimination and harassment, we use the umbrella term “discrimination” to encompass experiences of both discrimination and harassment among art museum workers.
Museum Type
In a few points in the report, we refer to different museum types when there are patterns or trends worth mentioning. Institutions chose from a list of categories (as many as fit their museums) when signing up to participate in the MMF study. Types included collecting, non-collecting, contemporary and/or modern, culturally specific, encyclopedic, college/university based, and city/county/state/government affiliated.