Navigating the Discipline in this Moment: Considering What it Means to be Women of Color Political Scientists in the Current Political Space

Navigating the Discipline in this Moment: Considering What it Means to be Women of Color Political Scientists in the Current Political Space

By M. Brielle Harbin, United States Naval Academy, and Stacey A. Greene, Rutgers University

Professionalism is a term that is frequently used to convey expectations of faculty, staff, and students in academia. Professionalism is also a framework that is used to enforce both the explicit and unspoken norms of academic spaces. This duality makes professionalism an opaque concept. What does it mean to be professional? Does professionalism refer to one’s clothing choices, their fit, or how one chooses to style their hair? Does it refer to one’s speech pattern, tone of voice, or word selection? Or, does professionalism refer to presenting oneself as happy, humble, and grateful so that others perceive you as a team player, relatable, and therefore someone who is approachable? For some faculty members and instructors, the concept of professionalism may not feel complicated or fraught. Yet, for many women of color in the discipline, especially those who are early career, discourse surrounding professionalism can feel like a sword.

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