#WomenAlsoKnowStuff Brings Women In Political Science Into the Public Arena
Who Talks?, GenderAvenger’s project with the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers and the Women’s Media Center, makes it clear that women remain dramatically underrepresented on television news shows. Over the course of the 2016 presidential election, female academics have been a glaring omission among the missing political experts. This underrepresentation both reflects and perpetuates stereotypes about who is knowledgeable and who belongs in politics.
The press is not alone in underrepresenting women as experts.
The press is not alone in underrepresenting women as experts; we find similar patterns in the academy. Women are also underrepresented in the top political science journals. Not surprisingly, there is a gap in perceived and actual influence in political science. Recent analysis finds that international relations journal articles authored by women are cited 20% less than articles by men. Other research on international relations reports that male-authored and mixed-gender-authored articles produce bibliographies with 9-11% women authors, while female authors cite upwards of 21% women authors.
Why are women so underrepresented as political experts in the media and in the academy?
Why are women so underrepresented as political experts in the media and in the academy? We believe this outcome is a combination of "implicit gender biases," whereby women’s lack of expertise is often simply assumed, and “network effects,” which can inadvertently exclude women who do not share the same networks as individuals charged with finding experts. Ultimately, this can lead to a skewed perception of experts being men.
Once we recognize the problem, what can be done to solve it?
Once we recognize the problem, what can be done to solve it? Our initiative, WomenAlsoKnowStuff, offers one contribution: a crowdsourced website of female political scientists. The brainchild of Professor Samara Klar, WomenAlsoKnowStuff is now supported by an editorial board of ten female political scientists who represent a range of expertise, experience, and interests who share a commitment to advocating for and advancing women in political science.
Our website, womenalsoknowstuff.com, permits women with or working toward a PhD in political science and affiliated with an academic department to add themselves to our database. We encourage female scholars to enter keywords that describe their expertise, lists of publications, and other information that demonstrates their knowledge. The resulting searchable database makes it easy for academics and journalists to identify women experts on a range of political topics and helps to chip away at the oft-cited excuse that “we just couldn’t find any women experts.” In addition to being lauded within political science, we have been deeply encouraged by journalists from a range of national outlets, including print, radio, and television, who tell us they turn to WomenAlsoKnowStuff to identify political experts and to expand their networks. We continue to work to enlarge that impact.
We also maintain a Twitter account, @womenalsoknow, where we promote the work of female experts in political science, be it new books and articles, op-eds, or citations and interviews in media outlets. With more than 5,000 followers, we aim to make women’s insights and contributions more visible to academics and journalists and to disrupt stereotypes about who is qualified to speak on political topics.
Our ultimate goal is to reduce implicit and explicit bias against women in the discipline of political science.
Our ultimate goal is to reduce implicit and explicit bias against women in the discipline of political science by promoting and publicizing the work of academic women in the profession. As such, our objectives overlap with those of GenderAvenger, which seeks to reduce the underrepresentation of women in the public arena more broadly. Our database and social media efforts at WomenAlsoKnowStuff contribute to our shared aim to ensure that women’s voice are part of the public dialog.