Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How Many Women Are in Political Theory? And Where Are They?

During the past week, I looked at the number of male and female political theorists in the top 60 liberal arts colleges and top 60 universities according to U.S. News and World Report (I took my information solely from departmental websites).  I don’t particularly like taking these rankings (which we all know are extremely problematic) as my starting point, but it seemed like one way to gather a meaningful sample of the gender breakdown of political theorists at liberal arts colleges and research universities (If anyone has other suggestions of how to go about this, I will take them).

The overall percentage of tenure-track or tenured political theorists who are women in these 120 schools is 32.1%.  This percentage strikes me as much lower than it should be.  However, it is still a little higherthan the percentage of articles by women in Political Theory in the lastfive+ years (29.1%), and it is quite a bit higher than the percentage of reviewed books by women in Perspectives on Politics in the last four+years (22.33%).  These numbers could suggest that women in political theory are producing less than men, but they could also suggest that less attention is being paid in high profile journals, in varying degrees, to what they do produce.

Here is the overall breakdown according to gender and status (assistant, associate, or full):

Two other initial interesting patterns from the data:

1) The 60 liberal arts colleges I looked at had a higher percentage of female political theory faculty than the research universities.  Liberal arts colleges have 34% female faculty, while research universities have 31.25%.  This suggests that women may be tracked more into liberal arts careers – which are often seen as less prestigious in the field – than into research university careers. 

The data on junior (tenure-track) faculty members suggests this trend even more strongly. While women compose 41.94% of junior tenure-track political theorists in research universities in my sample, they compose 57.9% of junior tenure-track political theorists in the liberal arts colleges I looked at.  More men get jobs at research universities.  More women get jobs at liberal arts colleges.

2) As the last set of numbers suggest, the percentage of junior (tenure-track) faculty members who are women is much higher than the overall percentage of women in the field.  Specifically, women compose 49.2% of junior political theorists in my sample.  In contrast, the percentage of associate professors who are women largely mirrors the overall percentage of women in the field (31.68%).  This could suggest that there has been an extreme upsurge in women getting jobs in political theory in the last five or six years (which could, to a certain extent, be the case).  However, it could also suggest that women are not getting tenure at the same rate that men are (due to family pressures, more service demands, less mentoring, etc.) – a problem that besets academia in general.

More to come on this data in future posts…

Friday, May 16, 2014

Gender Balance and the Association for Political Theory (Submitted by Lisa Ellis, Andrew Murphy, and Melissa Schwartzberg)

The Association for Political Theory has, since its inception, focused on the aim of improving the representation of women both at the conference and in leadership positions. A woman and a man have always jointly held the positions both of co-president (previously executive co-directors), and, in recent years, of conference co-chairs; nominations for all leadership positions have aimed at achieving gender balance. So from a leadership perspective, APT has done exceptionally well.  The APT promotes diversity among presenters at its annual conference through concrete steps such as attention to the composition of panels (in terms of gender, in the first instance, but also in terms of method, rank, institution type, discipline, and so forth); see our statement of values.

In recent years the APT leadership has focused especially on achieving gender parity at the conferences. The plenary sessions and other special events have regularly featured women, but paper authors in particular have been disproportionately male. Historically, the problem has resided in unequal rates of submission. In 2011, a particularly unbalanced conference, the Governance Committee spent a great deal of time discussing how APT might increase the number of women who submit proposals. At their annual dinner meeting, each member agreed to encourage 10 women to submit proposals for the following year. Though it’s not clear if that happened or if it tipped the balance, 48% of the presenters at the 2012 conference were women. But APT continues to struggle each year with an imbalance in paper submissions, and APT leadership has long suspected that the main issue is the underrepresentation of women in political theory and especially in philosophy, the other discipline from which APT draws most of its membership. But we haven't had the data to back up that claim.
As APT co-president, inspired by the “Gendered Conference Campaign,” Melissa launched an initiative to offer to help facilitate childcare at the conference.  Neither the GC nor Melissa was confident that it would make a difference – we all agreed that offering childcare was an important symbolic gesture and certainly worth trying, and a survey indicated support for the initiative among APT members. But ultimately no participant chose to take advantage of the offer of assistance. Part of the explanation may be that APT conferences are unusually demanding, since participants are expected to attend panels most sessions, and to share communal meals. Whereas part-time childcare at APSA may help parents who want to attend a few panels, part-time childcare at APT wouldn’t help parents who would want to be fully engaged in the conference. Our informal sense is that participants are increasingly choosing to bring their entire families to the conference, which may bode well for the future. 
Using the same categories Ms. Perestroika applies to this year's WPSA, then, the 2013 APT looks like this.  Of course this kind of measure is quite limited, since we are not taking account of gender balance in submissions or anything else.  We present this chart for comparison, with the main take-home message being that APT's relative success at promoting gender balance means that a sustained commitment can in fact pay off.
Lisa Ellis, APT Co-President
Andrew Murphy, APT Co-President
Melissa Schwartzberg, immediate past president, APT

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Book Reviews in Political Theory from 1980-April 2014: A Breakdown by Gender

In our ongoing effort to get numbers on the proportion of books reviewed by men and women in political theory, we surveyed the books reviewed in Political Theory from 1980-April 2014 (not including “Critical Exchanges” or “Symposiums”). 

In contrast to the decline in the proportion of reviewed books by women in Perspectives on Politics over the last five years (noted on this blog on Tuesday), the proportion of reviewed books by women in Political Theory has steadily increased, from 14.95% (in the 1980-1984 period) to 31.6% (in the 2010-April 2014 period).   While this proportion comprises less than a third of all books reviewed, it still suggests an upward trend that we hope will continue.

Once we have some more data from other journals on book reviews, we can start asking better questions about why books by women are being more or less reviewed in different venues, and what this means (if anything) for the relative influence of men and women in the field.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

On Anonymity

This blog is authored anonymously. Why?

Given the status/position of some participants, we have opted to keep the blog anonymous, at least for now. While we hope that raising the issue of gender inequity in the field of Political Theory would not affect any aspect of one’s career, we can’t be certain of this, unfortunately. For now we are not writing under our proper names and wanted to explain our reasoning.

Readers can also comment anonymously.

For the reasons outlined above, and because we want to maximize participation in blog discussions, the current settings allow for comments to be made anonymously. We understand that some readers may have insights, opinions, and facts to share but do not feel comfortable doing so if they are identified by name.

We think the option of anonymity is crucial to facilitate open participation by people regardless of rank and status.

We’d also like to encourage those who are able to do so to comment in their own names.

It would be heartening to hear from some senior colleagues – of any gender – who are willing to speak publicly about this matter. For those whose academic status is secure, please consider participating in your own name.  This could make a strong impact and perhaps draw additional attention to this project.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Crowdsourcing: Data on Women Seeking/Receiving PhDs in Political Theory

We are trying to fill in the picture concerning gender imbalance (bias?) in the subfield of Political Theory by gathering data on the percentage of PhD students and PhD recipients who are women. (We will also investigate the status of women as professors of Political Theory, but we are focused here on who pursues and receives PhD's in Political Theory.)  This seems to be difficult information to come by, but perhaps it is out there.

The information we've found so far is not subfield specific.

For example, the NSF Survey of Earned Doctorates showed that women made up 41.7% of all "Political Science and Government" PhD's in 2012.  A few years prior, the philosophy blog Crooked Timber, published this chart based on the 2009 Survey of Earned Doctorates (which found that women earned 40% of Political Science PhD's that year) which compares the gender divide across different disciplines. This again addressed Political Science as such, and not Political Theory specifically. 

As for current PhD students, the information is even more limited. The most recent data available online from APSA concerning its membership reports that women constituted 39% of its student members in 2004.

So the available numbers indicate that women make up roughly 40% of Political Science PhD recipients in recent years. But this doesn't tell us anything about subfields or whether/how Political Theory compares to that 60/40 ratio. We also know very little about who is enrolled in PhD programs in Political Theory.

Does anyone have insights into how/where to track down such subfield specific information? Even better, would someone like to volunteer to tackle this question?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Gender & the Political Theory Job Market

Let's share information about the recent/current job market in political theory. Our contributions here are necessarily anecdotal, but we hope to develop them further.

Job searches in 2013-2014:

UCLA - 5 of 6 job candidates invited to campus were male; job offers made to and accepted by two male political theorists

Bryn Mawr - 3 of 4 job candidates invited to campus were male; job offer made to and accepted by male political theorist

Vassar  - 3 of 3 job candidates invited to campus were female; job offer made and accepted by female political theorist

Please add additional information in the comments re: other job searches. If anyone has information to share about the gender composition of applicant pools (for these jobs or others), please chime in!

Who is getting published in the journal Political Theory?

Here's a quick snapshot of the articles published in Political Theory over the past 5+ years, starting with the Feb 2009 issue and ending with the April 2014 issue. (That's 32 issues, containing 117 articles). In July 2012, Mary Dietz (who served since 2005) was replaced by Jane Bennett as editor of the journal.

The chart above reflects that of the 117 articles published in Political Theory during this time period, 77 of the single-authored articles were written by men and 34 were written by women.

This chart addresses articles only. We are working on compiling information about book reviews in this journal and others.

In addition to articles and reviews, PT also publishes "Critical Exchanges" and "Symposiums." Contributions of these types are shorter than full articles and there are far fewer of them.  Given the prominence of the journal, however, these venues are also worth our attention. 

In this time period, 17 Critical Exchanges between two authors were  published. Of these, 11 were between male authors, three were between female authors, and 3 were between a male and female author.

There were also 4 Symposium published. The overall gender balance here was better than either articles or Critical Exchanges. The total number of participants in these fora was 22 (counting a pair of co-authors). 13 of these participants were male (again, including a pair of male co-authors) and 9 were female. It is worth noting, however, that 3 of the 4 Symposium were dedicated to the work of living male theorists (James Tully, Jurgen Habermas, Jeffrey Green). The remaining Symposium was on republicanism. Interestingly, it was the only one of the four to feature exclusively male participants.

Since Political Theory is widely considered the top journal in the subfield (and has a higher "impact rating" than any other theory-specific journals), these stats deserve scrutiny. It would be interesting to know more about the gender breakdown of article submissions, manuscripts sent out for review, etc. If anyone has access to that data and is willing to share, please speak up!

For now, we'd be curious to hear your thoughts on this.

Political Theory Book Reviews in APSR and Perspectives on Politics: Breakdown According to Gender

A survey of political theory books reviewed in the flagship Political Science journals, American Political Science Review and Perspectives on Politics, from 1980-March 2014 reveals that reviews of books by women comprise a much smaller proportion of political theory book reviews than reviews of books written by men. (Book Reviews were moved out of APSR after 2002 and moved into the new journal, Perspectives on Politics, as of 2003.) While the proportion of reviews of books by women has steadily increased since 1980, the highest percentage of reviewed books by women (in the period of 2006-2009) was still only 28.25%, compared to reviews of books by men, which comprised 73.3% of all political theory books reviewed in the same period.

 Most alarmingly, the proportion of reviews of books by women in Perspectives on Politics has actually decreased over the past five years: from 28.25% in 2006-2009 to 22.33% from 2010-March 2014.
A more fine grained analysis, and comparison with reviews in other publications, would have to be done to explain this decrease. Is it due to the fact that books published by women simply comprise less of the field than they used to (and what would that say about the field)? Is it because of a switch in editor (a new editor took over Perspectives on Politics in 2010)? Is it because the kind of work that women tend to do (feminist theory, more issue/practice/world-oriented political theory) is receiving less attention (or is less valued) in our current moment than the highly abstract and/or extremely historical/contextual work that men tend to do more of?

 Or perhaps it is simply a fluke. Regardless, the fact that the proportion of reviewed books by women reached its peak at 28.25% in a five year period (from 2006-2009) suggests that political theorists should start asking questions about why books by women are receiving less attention in the discipline’s flagship journals than books by men.

*Notes on methodology. We came up with these numbers by simply counting reviews of political theory books by men, women, or a mix of both in the American Political Science Review and Perspectives on Politics from 1980-March 2014. Book Reviews were moved out of APSR after 2002 and moved into the new journal, Perspectives on Politics, as of 2003. 

 We counted a book as a political theory book when it was published under the headings “Political Theory and Methodology” (from 1980 [74:1]-1982 [76:1]), “Normative Theory” (from 1982[76:2]-1985[79:4], and “Political Theory” (1986[80:1]-March 2014). When there was a special review essay or section in the American Political Science Review that focused on theory books, we included them in the tally – for example, in issue 84:1 (1990), there was a special review section on “Science, Rights, and Control of the Body” that included reviews of books by Carol Pateman and Zillah Eisenstein (we included all books in that review section in the tally). I also want to note that not all books reviewed in the sections listed above are written by political theorists (and there are likely a few books written by theorists than end up in other subfield sections). We focused on the books in the sections listed above – “Normative Theory,” “Political Theory,” etc. - because they are the books that the editor believes will be of interest to political theorists, and thus offer one snapshot of what kinds of books gain institutional support and notice.

Gender Composition of 2014 WPSA Political Theory Panels

At this year's WPSA conference in Seattle, 27 political theory panels exclusively featured presentations by men. That is almost one quarter (24%) of the 114 panels sponsored by political theory sections. Of these 27 panels, women served as discussant on only two, leaving 25 panels that involved only men in any substantive role. 19 panels did not even involve a woman as chair, seating only men at the table.

No commensurate space of participation emerged for female-dominated panels. Only 6 panels (5% of 114) exclusively featured presentations by women. Men served as discussant on two of these panels, leaving four panels that involved only women in substantive roles. Three panels were exclusively female, less than one-sixth the number of exclusively male panels.

The sections sponsoring political theory panels were Environmental Political Theory, chaired by Brad Mapes-Martins and Cheryl Hall, Political Theory and Its Applications, chaired by J.S. Maloy, Political Theory: Critical and Normative, chaired by Peter Breiner, and Political Thought: Historical Approaches, chaired by Keally D. McBride. Two of these five chairs are women.

Of the political theory sections, Political Theory: Critical and Normative sponsored the greatest number and the highest proportion of panels with only men in substantive roles: 10 of 38, or 26%. Environmental Political Theory was a close second for proportion of substantively all male panels: 4 of 16, or 25%. By this measure, Political Theory and Its Applications came the closest to gender parity: only 5 of their 33 panels, or 15%, were substantively all male. All four political theory sections can and should do better, but chair J.S. Maloy should be commended for the relatively high integration of women into his section's panels.