End the duopoly

Here’s the sixth article in our series on the gender gap in political science.

Throughout academia, including in political science, women haven’t achieved parity with men. As this series explores, implicit bias holds women back at every stage, from the readings that professors assign to the student evaluations that influence promotions and pay, from journal publications to book awards. These political and sociological problems deserve study as much as any of the other issues the academy investigates. Here’s the sixth piece in our two-week series on the gender gap in political science — and what we can do about it. — Kim Yi Dionne

Every academic knows the mandate: Publish or perish. Women in political science know it just as well as their male peers. That means it hurts women’s careers when the field’s academic books and top journals regularly publish more research by men than women. And even when women publish in top outlets, their work is less likely to be cited or to appear on course syllabi than research by men.

Observers have debated why that might be. Are women underrepresented in publication outlets and cited less often because they choose subfields and methods that are less represented in the top journals? Or do the top political science publishers regularly publish more articles by men because of gender bias? We’ve been researching that question, as others have — and find that both are true. Many women are submitting their work to lower-ranked journals. At the same time, when women work in the central research areas of the discipline, their work is less likely to gain attention. This contributes to the “leaky pipeline” wherein women exit political science at higher rates than men as they move through the discipline’s ranks.

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Here’s how we did our research

We looked at the proportion of male and female authors published in 38 political science journals and compared that with the proportion of male and female members of the political science subfield organizations that sponsored the journals. We found that women are underrepresented in journals compared with their membership rates. That was true in every subfield, no matter how large or small a proportion of their members and their journals’ authors were women.


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