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Women, Gender, and Politics

N14 - Diversifying Political Science: Whose Discipline?

Date: Jun 5 | Time: 03:45pm to 05:15pm | Location: SWING 121

Chair/Président/Présidente : Pascale Dufour (Université de Montréal)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Reeta Tremblay (University of Victoria)


Session Abstract: Initiatives to render visible scholarly work produced by women, racialized, and sexual minorities within academia have proliferated in recent years. Hosted on various digital platforms, these include Women Also Know Stuff, People Of Color Also Know Stuff, LGBT Scholars, and Queer PhD Network, to name just a few. While these virtual groups have had, and continue to have, a significant impact on academics’ careers, their recent emergence also come as a response to persistent and widespread inequalities in academia, which continue to invisibilize and relegate to the margins women, racialized minorities, people with disabilities, sexual minorities, and indigenous people, amongst others. Some of these inequalities include an overall lack of visibility in academic journals, course syllabi, and conferences (Maliniak et al., 2013; Butcher and Kersey, 2015; Williams et al., 2015; Bos et al., 2017), as well as the presence of multiple glass ceilings, be it in graduate school, recruitment procedures, tenure-track employment, or in promotion practices (Kantola, 2008, 2015; Cornut et al., 2012; Kittilson, 2015; Henry et al., 2017). This said, how are these inequalities (re)produced within political science, and particularly within Canadian political science? More precisely, how do gendered and racialized inequalities unfold in the Canadian context and elsewhere? What impact does that have on knowledge production? How can we diversify political science and foster inclusion, without engaging in tokenization processes? These are some of the questions this panel proposes to reflect on.


Reflections on Gender and Diversity in Political Science: Yasmeen Abu-Laban (University of Alberta), Marian Sawer (Australian National University)
Abstract: This paper draws from the survey and analysis of national political science associations contained in the 2018 Gender and Diversity Monitoring Report. This report, published by the International Political Science Association, offers a chance to reflect on contemporary issues relating to gender and diversity in the discipline of political science from both an international and comparative perspective. In Canada and elsewhere, the twentieth century saw the advent of the formal organization of the discipline into professional associations, as well as the rise of new social movements such as those promoting gender and racial equality and Indigenous rights. Political science was sometimes slow to engage with these new political actors and with issues of inequality more generally. Our discussion considers many remaining challenges in Canada and internationally. To what extent is the discipline of political science, including its professional associations, inclusive and representative in terms of focus and composition? What practices have professional associations or other institutions of political science adopted to foster diversity, and what lessons can be learned from these? Is the discipline accommodating diverse perspectives and approaches or is there still a hierarchy of knowledge? This paper addresses these questions from national and global perspectives.


Making Scholarship Visible: Do Awards Contribute to Diversify the Discipline of Political Science?: Christine Rothmayr Allison (Université de Montréal), Isabelle Engeli (University of Exeter)
Abstract: To what extent do professional associations in political science contribute to the structuration of gendered opportunity structures within the discipline? Our research project addresses this question by comparing patterns in attribution of awards across six major political science associations – APSA (American Political Science Association), IPSA (International Political Science Association), ECPR (European Consortium for Political Research), ISA (International Studies Association), PSA (Political Studies Association) and CPSA (Canadian Political Science Association) – for the period from 2000 to 2017. Awards are an important proxy for assessing scholarly reputation and international standing. As such, awards are central for professional opportunities and career advancement which are also based on peer reputation. The research project analyses who the recipients are in terms of gender and minority identities, advancement in career and university affiliation. We are also interested in the composition of the award committees as well as in the impact of governance structure on fostering diversity in the selection of award recipients. While academic careers and journal publications have attracted certain attention, there is less research available on associational opportunity structures. This paper aims at contributing to closing this gap.


Canadian Political Science as Settler, White, and Male-Dominated: How Gender and Race Shape the Discipline : Saaz Taher (Université de Montréal), Alexie Labelle (Université de Montréal)
Abstract: In recent years, numerous studies have revealed how conscious and unconscious biases contribute to the invisibilization and the underrepresentation of women and racialized scholars’ work in political science. If most of these studies have focused on publication gaps, conference attendance, and professional association memberships (Brown and Samuels, 2018; Thelen and Teele, 2017; Bos et al, 2017; Abu-Laban et al, 2017), few of them have looked at the composition of political science departments in Canada, one reason being a lack of systematically-compiled data (Smith, 2017). To bridge this gap, we have provided, in a previous paper, a quantitative portrait of Quebec’s political science departments, and engaged in a discussion on women and racialized scholars’ place in the discipline at a provincial-level. This present paper’s aim is twofold. First, by extending the scope of our previous study at a federal-level to include departments in the rest of Canada, we intend to dress a portrait of the discipline across Canada. Second, by comparing and contrasting departments within and across provinces, we aim at identifying current trends in the discipline. To this end, we draw from data pertaining to the composition of political science departments, and to the distribution of research chairs and leadership positions within research centers amongst Canadian political scientists. Ultimately, this paper will shed some light on the ways in which representation and inclusion are reflected in the composition of Canadian political science.


Against Tokenization: An Exploration of Black Feminist Strategies: Noémi Michel (University of Geneva)
Abstract: This paper explores key interventions within diasporic Black Feminist thoughts (e.g. May Ayim, Saidiya Hartman, Grada Kilomba) in order to address the phenomena of tokenization within public institutional spaces – including academia. Black feminist interventions provide us with important resource for accounting to what I call the politics of “embodied voice” namely the historical and socio-political processes that have produced and continue to produce unequal voices according to bodily differentiation and categorisation. Tokenization, in this perspective, takes part to complex processes that hyper-visibilize bodies marked by gendered and racialized difference while, on the long run, erasing the subjects bearers of these very bodies. Furthermore, Black feminist thoughts not only help us identifying the mechanisms pertaining to tokenization, they also provide us with strategies for amplifying past and present embodied voices of subaltern subjects of knowledge.