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…

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