New findings on gender and publication patterns support earlier survey results

One of the main findings from the research on gender and publication patterns in US-based political science, is that women are more likely than their male colleges to use qualitative methods. This finding is important because it may account for the underrepresentation of women in top journals.

For instance, in a recent article on gender and publication patterns, Dawn Langan Teele and Kathleen Thelen (2017) find that “very few of the top journals publish a significant share of qualitative research, but those that do tend, on average, to have more women among their author pool.” Among the journals within their sample, “the two journals that publish the most qualitative work (Perspectives on Politics and Comparative Politics) also publish the work of female authors in higher proportions. Conversely, the two journals that publish the fewest qualitative articles (AJPS and JOP) also publish the fewest female authors.”

Their findings support earlier survey results from the Teaching, Research and International Policy Project (TRIP), The TRIP survey is much narrower in scope, focusing on the subfield of International Relations, broadly defined. However, the TRIP data adds an interesting epistemological dimension. According to a 2011 report based on TRIP data, there is “virtually no epistemological diversity” in top journals. Instead, they find that:

…[S]ince 2002 more articles published in the major journals employ quantitative methods than any other approach. And when we compare this publication pattern with our survey data, we see evidence of bias: the percentage of articles using quantitative methods is vastly disproportional to the actual number of scholars who identify statistical techniques as their primary methodology… Even more striking, when we look at the research that is published by the major journals, 90% of articles in 2006 were positivist, up from 58% in 1980 (Maliniak, et al, 2011, p. 439).

Since women in the subfield of International Relations are not only more likely to say their work is qualitative than their male colleagues, but also to identify it as non-positivist, or post-positivist, this lack of epistemological diversity impacts females authors disproportionately.

Disciplinary politics play out on many levels, one of the primary of which is methodological and epistemological. After all, as academics we are in the business of creating knowledge. Therefore, policing the boundaries of what counts as knowledge is a constitutive feature of academic communities. Although not inherently gendered, at least in a de facto sense, biases toward quantitative analysis favour men.

The fact that this data is US-based does leave open questions about the status of the relationship between method, epistemology and gender in other countries. The TRIP project collects raw survey data from around the world that you can access on their website. Does anyone know of any similar studies conducted in the UK?

 

Sources:
Teele, D. and Thelen, T. (2017) “Gender in the Journals: Publication Patterns in Political Science.” PS: Political Science & Politics, 50 (2), 433-47. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1049096516002985 [Accessed May 1, 2017]

Maliniak, D., Oakes, A., Peterson, S., and Tierney, M. (2011) “International Relations in the US Academy.” International Studies Quarterly, 55 (2), 437–464. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2478.2011.00653.x [Accessed May 1, 2017]

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