Improving Women’s Advancement in Political Science: What We Know About What Works
By Lisa P. Argyle, Brigham Young University and Tali Mendelberg, Princeton University
Women earn approximately half of all bachelor’s degrees in political science but they comprise only 22% of full professors. Scholars have offered evidence for a variety of likely explanations for this gender gap and proposed many interventions to improve women’s advancement in academic political science careers. This article reviews existing empirical research regarding the effectiveness of these interventions. We reach four conclusions. First, we find very little rigorous research on this topic; most proposed recommendations have never been tested. This implies the need to prioritize such research in the future. Second, there is good evidence that women’s networking and mentoring programs have positive benefits for women scholars. Third, we find limited suggestive evidence in favor of changes in hiring practices, resilience training, department service dashboards, and student evaluations. Additional research in these areas is needed to confirm viable policy solutions. However, our fourth finding is that many other interventions yield negligible, null, or even negative effects on women’s academic advancement. The failure of several widely promoted programs underscores the need for rigorous evaluation of any proposed intervention before widespread implementation.