Introduction to the Special Issue on Women in Methodology

Today, I am proud to announce a series of articles in The Political Methodologist focused on gender diversity in political methodology. This series will be guest edited by Megan Shannon, an assistant professor of Political Science at Florida State University and the 2013 host of the Visions in Methodology (VIM) conference for women in political methodology.

Over the next few weeks, we will electronically publish a series of contributions about the subfield’s continuing efforts to increase gender diversity in the methods community. These contributions focus specifically on how and why women choose (not) to work in methodology, including and especially participation in VIM and the annual meeting of the Society for Political Methodology (POLMETH). Our guest authors represent a wide cross-section of perspectives in the methods community and examine a variety of topics concerning women in methodology. All the articles will be compiled into a special print edition of The Political Methodologist for Spring 2014.

I believe that this discussion comes at an opportune moment in the history of the Society and in political science generally. Overall, women made up 26% of tenure-track faculty in political science in 2006 (Table 1 in Sedowski and Brintnall 2007, 1). The field of political methodology has particularly struggled to increase women’s representation in its ranks: only 20% of paper authors at the 2006 POLMETH conference were women, and the average over the last 15 years is closer to about 15% (Figure 2 in Mitchell 2013). Despite efforts to improve women’s participation in the subfield, there has been but a slight upward trend in women’s participation at POLMETH since data were first collected in the mid-1980s.

The continuing underrepresentation of women in methodology is, in part, a product of larger problems that transcend the subfield. For example, women represented 28% of science and engineering TT faculty in the United States in 2006, including the social sciences (Table 5 in Burrelli 2008, 5). But there are reasons to believe that political science is particularly susceptible to these problems, including consistently lower citation rates and greater service burdens for women scholars (Mcmurtrie 2013; see also Maliniak, Powers, and Walter 2013; Mitchell and Hesli 2013). Additionally, other methodologically and substantively allied fields have achieved much greater gender parity than political science. In the 2006 data, 46.2% of psychology TT faculty were women; across all social sciences (excluding psychology), 33.9% of TT faculty in 2006 were women (Table 5 in Burrelli 2008, 5).

It is difficult to believe that political science faces unique barriers to women’s participation that are not faced by psychology and the social sciences more generally. Presuming this to be true, I think that we can do better to increase gender parity in the discipline and in the Society. I hope that this special issue of The Political Methodologist is the beginning of a conversation that leads to increased participation of women and improves the Society as a whole.


Burrelli, Joan. 2008. Thirty-Three Years of Women in S&E Faculty Positions. National Science Foundation. (March 4, 2014).

Maliniak, Daniel, Ryan Powers, and Barbara F. Walter. 2013. “The Gender Citation Gap in International Relations.” International Organization 67(04): 889–922.

Mcmurtrie, Beth. 2013. “Political Science Is Rife With Gender Bias, Scholars Find.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. (March 4, 2014).

Mitchell, Sara McLaughlin. 2013. “Why It Matters That More Women Present at Conferences.” Washington Post. (March 4, 2014).

Mitchell, Sara McLaughlin, and Vicki L. Hesli. 2013. “Women Don’t Ask? Women Don’t Say No? Bargaining and Service in the Political Science Profession.” PS: Political Science & Politics 46(02): 355–69.

Sedowski, Leanne, and Michael Brintnall. 2007. Data Snapshot: The Proportion of Women in the Political Science Profession. (March 4, 2014).


About Justin Esarey

Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rice University.
This entry was posted in Editorial Message, The Discipline. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Introduction to the Special Issue on Women in Methodology

  1. Jim Johnson says:

    An excellent undertaking. Thanks.

  2. Pingback: Style, Substance, and the Impact on Gender Imbalance in Methods | The Political Methodologist

  3. Pingback: Advice to Junior Faculty | RKWRICE

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