For most Americans, Labor Day weekend means barbeques, late morning sleep-fests, and maybe some catch-up work on the lawn. But for political scientists, this weekend brings other associations, because the major political science conference, APSA, is held that weekend. For me, Labor Day means insomnia, blisters, boredom, fake smiles, stale air, and gallons of coffee. I haven’t been to the conference in four years, but thanks to the marvels of social media, I feel like I’m still there. Oh, yay!
Since I’m in the post-academic phase of my life, I haven’t linked to the long discussions about APSA on twitter and the blogs, but I’ve read them all. I guess I’ll always have a foot in that world.
The discussion this morning is about the gender problems in political science. I’m linking to this discussion, because the findings are relevant to all professions. It’s about how often female scholars are cited in other academic papers and how often they link to themselves.
A former classmate at the University of Chicago, Barbara Walter, has a great paper looking at the citations of female scholars. She found that articles written by men were cited more often that articles written by women.
In that paper, ”The Gender Citation Gap,” Ms. Walter and her colleagues found that even after controlling for many variables—including what the subjects wrote about, the methodology they used, and where they worked—women were cited less frequently than men were. In their review of more than 3,000 journal articles published from 1980 to 2006, articles by men received an average of 4.8 more citations than were articles by women. (The average number of citations per article over all was 25.)
And the person most likely to cite your work? Well, that would be yourself, of course. And men cite themselves a lot more than women do.
The average male scholar writing a single-author article cites himself 0.4 times while the average female scholar cites herself 0.25 times. In papers with two male authors, they engage in some self-citation 0.91 times while papers by two female scholars have an average of 0.41 instances of self-citation. These differences are statistically significant. (The authors didn’t say all self-citation was inappropriate, but said they questioned its extent by men.)
Political science is a male-dominated field. 70% of all APSA members are male. I would guess that 90% of the people who attend the conference are male. Other political science conferences have more diversity. I occasionally went to the Urban Affairs Conferences, and they were plenty of pony-tailed guys and women with large ethnic necklaces. Other than a few clusters of female-friend sub-conferences, this profession is male dominated. APSA is a sea of khaki pants and light blue oxford shirts. When I first started attending this conference, I was terrified. I would hang out in the book room and chat with the book editors, who seems a lot nicer and more approachable than the academics. Later, I learned various coping methods.
For women to increase their numbers in this profession and other male-dominated fields, they have to play the game. The lesson of all this is SELF-PROMOTION! Do it. The guys are doing it. And you should be, too.
(Nice paper, Barbara!)