‘Women Also Know Stuff’ – A Site Created To Prevent Bias Against Female Poli-Sci Academics

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In a bid to create greater visibility among women in the academic field a group of genius females have created a website and database listing women who are experts in a number of fields. Why did they do this? Because according to Emily Beaulieu, Amber Boydstun, Kim Yi Dionne, Samara Klar, Yanna Krupnikov, Melissa Michelson, Kathleen Searles and Christina Wolbrecht who make up the editorial board of ‘Women Also Know Stuff‘, there is a distinct lack of female voices present in media and politics being quoted and cited as experts.

The very name Women Also Know Stuff sounds arbitrary and redundant – of COURSE women “know stuff”, so why are they not part of the regular pool called upon to offer their academic opinion on various issues? In an op-ed for the Washington Post, the WAKS editors shared their thoughts on why they want to see more women quoted as experts in the media.

“A systematic review of international relations scholarship shows that, in scholarly citations, women are consistently cited less often than men. Another study found that male authors were less likely than female authors to cite the work of female scholars. And women are often underrepresented as invited speakers in research colloquia or on panels at conferences. In 2016, there are still a lot of all-male panels at academic conferences — a phenomenon well documented on Twitter and Tumblr,” wrote the women.

female-academics

Laura Seay, a colleague of the women named above, recently read an article on Vox post titled “We asked 6 political scientists if Bernie Sanders would have a shot in a general election” and was annoyed to find out not one of the 6 experts was a woman or scholar of color. Laura tweeted the journalist who wrote the piece and he responded that it was an oversight and would do better next time.

They even called out the Washington post for the glaring gender bias in the number of female authors (9) versus male (22) when examining a list of 35 scholar-led blog posts on politics and political science (4 were authored by a group of mixed gender writers).

While the women acknowledge that men outnumber women by far in faculty positions – women only hold 28.6% of full time faculty positions in political science in the US – that shouldn’t mean they are excluded altogether. In 2013 women earned just over 41% of PhDs in political science, yet the inherent gender bias continues to hold women back.

At a purely academic level, there is a substantial level of women actually obtaining undergraduate degrees in the US, and that has been seen over the past few decades in this report from Randal Olson, a a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, who also points out that far more women attend college than men. But where the gender bias starts to become apparent is in the work force and the stereotypical male-dominated environments of many STEM jobs.

female-academics

In a study from 2013 called ‘The Gender Citation Gap‘ three scholars from the University of California, San Diego, and University of Wisconsin found that women were cited less frequently than men in their analysis. In their review of more than 3,000 journal articles published from 1980 to 2006, articles by men received an average of 4.8 more citations than were articles by women. The average number of citations per article over all was 25.

Another paper, “Women Don’t Ask? Women Don’t Say No? Bargaining and Service in the Political-Science Profession,” found that women in the discipline are asked more often than men are to take on committee assignments, but their service appointments are generally of lower stature.

“Women are doing more service but not doing the prestigious service that could pay off in a professional sense,” one of the authors of that study, Sara McLaughlin Mitchell, chair of the political-science department at the University of Iowa, said during a panel titled “Minding the Gender Gap in Political Science.”

There has to be a breakthrough or a watershed moment for this industry because the more female experts are called upon to contribute to media reports, panels and conferences, the more likely young women are to be encouraged to enter into STEM fields.

female-academics

“Whether it’s malicious or unconscious, personal or institutional, leaving women out of the story is harmful — both in general, and in political discussions. When women are missing, the world loses out on the expertise and perspective they have to offer — some of it directly related to women’s different experiences in life, and some of it simply because we’re missing roughly half of the available expertise. The absence of women perpetuates stereotypes about who knows stuff and who does not. It misrepresents this discipline and the world,” said the WAKS women.

In reference to Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” gaffe, the female academics say this database is their version of “Binders” but in a serious attempt to bridge the gender gap in the political sciences. If you ask us, this website is more like the Poli-Sci version of Destri Martino’s The Director List, a database of 1000+ female directors in the film industry created to shut down any excuse that claims female directors just don’t exist and therefore are not hired as much as men.

Like The Director List, WAKS is continually growing and includes women from all levels of academia including junior women to senior scholars. They have included the websites of the scholars so anyone looking for an expert or simply browsing can find out more info on a particular woman.

The reason we wanted to promote this database was to be one of the media platforms who recognize the gender bias and are willing to do our part to change it. However, we do recognize we are at an advantage because we ARE a website that has mostly female writers and experts quoted!

female-academics

If you are a woman in the academic world feeling frustrated by the gender bias, you can fill out a Google form and submit your information to Women Also know Stuff to be included in what could be the premier database of women in the Political Science field in the US. After being live for only a week the site received hundreds of requests and thousands of views.

Aside from the representation and greater visibility of women in the political science field, the WAKS women also believe there is a huge need to expand diversity in terms of race and ethnicity also.

“We know how the human mind works; unconscious bias affects how people behave, and has real consequences in the world,” they wrote.

If this website can begin to break down barriers and allow women to be given the opportunities they have worked so hard for, it could bring about major change. With topics such as African Politics, immigration, gun policy, gender, nuclear weapons, war, religion and refugees covered among the already-existing database, the term “women also know stuff” goes from being an arbitrary statement to one of knowledge, power and authority.

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2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Group Of In-Demand Male Speakers Band Together To Boycott All-Male Panels & Promote Female Voices - GirlTalkHQ

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