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Gender, Topics, and Publication: Clues from Political Science?

A new study in political science provides evidence for an explanation of why “women are more likely to leave the profession than men” and why “those who stay are promoted at lower rates.” The study, “You Research Like a Girl: Gendered Research Agendas and Their Implications,” looks at the gender distribution of authors on various topics in political science and then checks to see how well those topics are discussed in top political science journals. The authors, Ellen M. Key (Appalachian State) and Jane Lawrence Sumner (Minnesota), used dissertation topics in political science to determine the gender distribution on specific topics and created the following chart depicting them: They then asked, “Are topics most favored by women less likely to appear in top journals?” adding: If this were true, it could provide an explanation for the leaky pipeline. That is, if women pursue topics that—for whatever reason—are less likely to be published in major journals than topics pursued by men, they may fare less well in tenure and promotion and therefore be less likely to be promoted or more likely to leave the discipline. If “appearing in the top three journals” is also a heuristic for being valued by the field as a whole, this could indicate that topics written about more often by women may be less valued by hiring committees, suggesting another pathway by which women may leave the discipline. They looked at three top [More]

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