Women and the Methods Conference

Sara Mitchell has published an interesting piece in The Washington Post about female participation in conferences and gender bias in the citations of published work. It’s of particular interest to the methodology community because Political Analysis and the annual meeting of the Society of Political Methodology are featured as particular cases.

I’ve reprinted one of the key figures from the article below:

Graph by Sara Mitchell.
(Graph by Sara Mitchell, originally printed in The Washington Post)

Quoting from the article, “The figure above shows gender differences in paper or poster presentations at the organizations’ annual conferences, revealing an 11 percent gender gap across these groups.  The State Politics and Policy emphasis on substantive issues in American politics attracts a higher percentage of female presenters than conferences focused on methodological issues in the field (Polmeth).”

There is an upward, but slow, trend for greater participation by women in the conference shown in another graph from the article, again shown below:

Graph by Sara Mitchell
(Graph by Sara Mitchell, originally printed in The Washington Post)

Disappointingly, the trend in female participation at Methods seems to be somewhat static at around 15% since the turn of the 21st century; participation at Peace Science and SP&P both start higher, and seem to be moving upward faster.

Finally, only 2.9% of citations in Political Analysis were to work produced by women, compared to 6% for journals of the Peace Science Society.

How should the methods community respond to these findings? I hope we can begin to discuss the question in comments and in future contributions to The Political Methodologist.

About Justin Esarey

Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rice University.
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4 Responses to Women and the Methods Conference

  1. I think there’s an assumption–that may or may not be correct–that in order to appeal to the PolMeth community (e.g., apply to present at the conference, submit to PA) the methodological work that one is doing must be highly technical and/or develop new types of models. As the original post implies, women seem to do more substantive work and perhaps the perception of technical focus is discouraging. I am hesitant to say that the perception is reality–is it that substantive work isn’t submited to PolMeth/PA? Is it that women aren’t applying/submitting? Or is it that substantive work and women are rejected at higher rates? If we (as women) are not putting our work out there, we’re part of the problem.

    I have found many men in the PolMeth community to be extremely supportive of women in the field, getting more women involved, and I appreciate these men. It is still, however, intimidating to approach them from my standpoint, and it’s difficult to network with people. A very nice effort that PolMeth makes is the organization of the women’s dinner–which is a wonderful opportunity and a fantastic idea–but is a bit problematic. While the women are having dinner together, so are the men–there’s no cross-networking happening. Plus–with the caveat that I have only been to the last 3 women’s dinners–there seems to be a continuity issue. I haven’t hardly seen the same women attend more than one year in a row (with a few exceptions), and despite attending these I still have not met some of the top female political methodologists.

    My point is that there are good efforts being made, which are appreciated, but perhaps we need to ask the women why these things are going on. I’ve scratched the surface of a few things I’ve noticed, and I’m sure others have observations. I think a lot about inclusiveness of academic communities because not only am I female, but I’m in a non-professorial job as a survey researcher who still wants to engage the academic world. One thing that strikes me is that we really don’t know why people opt out. Perhaps… a *survey* is in order? (I did just admit I’m a survey person, so that suggestion should not be shocking.) in.

  2. Natalie says:

    I can’t believe there are no comments on this; in part because I submitted a comment a week ago. Did it get lost in the ether?

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