Since women have long been under-represented in the membership and senior levels of political science associations, IPSA has decided in 2009 to establish a gender monitoring system to track the status of women in political science. The gender monitoring survey of national associations is conducted under the aegis of the IPSA Committee on Participation and Membership, with the assistance of the IPSA Secretariat. This initiative has been discussed at length, and the questionnaire was first sent to national PSAs in 2011. While information on participation in political science among women is already available in a number of countries, the IPSA survey is the first to provide substantial comparative data from all continents.
A key aim of this gender monitoring process is to raise awareness of ongoing under-representation among women and call attention to issues of gender equality among member associations. The establishment of a gender monitoring system for IPSA member organizations will allow us to gather comparative data on the status of women and men in IPSA member organizations and to identify examples of best practices that promote equal opportunity for both sexes and under-represented groups in academic political science. This database will help member organizations identify areas requiring further action and advance recommendations concerning potential courses of action.
IPSA’s ultimate objective, with this initiative, is to strengthen the role of women in scientific research and organizations. It is important to emphasize that the survey results will be used not only to specify the role of female political scientists but also to assess the status of the broader political science community. To achieve this, IPSA needs the support of its constituents, starting with the national and regional political science associations and the research committees. This survey is designed to be part of an ongoing project meant to evaluate the progress of female scholars in national and regional associations. Starting now, our goal is to present these survey results every four years in conjunction with the IPSA World Congress of Political Science.
This 2013 survey was conducted by IPSA from December 2013 to May 2014. A total of 38 of the 52 national political science associations (PSAs) responded. Most provided answers to all of the survey questions concerning the breakdown of membership along gender lines and leadership positions taken in relation to initiatives promoting equal opportunity. The results of this second survey was presented at the 2014 IPSA World Congress in Montreal.
The data provides a compelling picture of national variations in the participation of women in political science and of the steps taken by national associations to address gender issues. In some countries, extensive research has been conducted to determine why the progress of women has stalled, and the following problems were identified: “the leaky pipeline,” “the normative political scientist” and the “chilly climate” (Cowden et al. 2012). In other countries, it seems, there is lack of awareness concerning the under-representation of women in the field. We hope that comparative data on participation and examples of best practices for addressing these gender-related issues will spark further reflection within national associations on how to foster a fully inclusive profession.