Elusive Inclusion: Persistent Challenges Facing Women of Color in Political Science

Elusive Inclusion: Persistent Challenges Facing Women of Color in Political Science

by Melissa R. Michelson, Menlo College, and  Jessica L. Lavariega Monforti, California Lutheran University

Academia in general and the discipline of political science specifically are environments where women of color are both invisible and tokenized – valued for the diversity they represent but also marginalized and unsupported. In part this stems from their lack of representation. Political science is one of the most male and white dominated fields of study in the social sciences. The last few decades have seen some progress, but underrepresentation persists. We have hosted biennial professional development workshops for women of color since 2013. In 2019, we surveyed participants who had attended one or more of our four biennial workshops. Generally, respondents reported improvements over time, but also the work that remains to be done and the need for ongoing efforts by departments, white colleagues, and male people of color to support women of color and make our discipline one where students and faculty are valued for their diverse perspectives. Continued efforts to improve the climate requires explicit efforts to overcome past practices of exclusion and marginalization, and to give women of color the mentoring and networking tools they need to survive and thrive. Our biennial workshops provide those tools, but we call on colleagues, both male people of color and white, to do more.

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