#WomenAlsoKnowStuff: Editorial Board Member, Kathleen Searles, Talks Importance of Sharing Women Experts

kathleensearles GRU website photoKathleen Searles (Ph.D. Washington State University), Assistant Professor of Political Communication, holds a joint appointment in the Manship School of Mass Communication and the Department of Political Science at Louisiana State University. Her interests include news media, campaign advertising, and political psychology.  Specifically, her research examines the content of partisan news, poll coverage, and the influence of emotional appeals in campaign ads.  Most recently her work focuses on using bio-metrics to better understand the effects of political television ads and direct mail.  She has published in Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Research Quarterly, Political Communication, The Journal of Experimental Political Science, and Political Psychology.

Tell us about your involvement with #WomenAlsoKnowStuff.

Searles: I currently serve on the editorial board for Women Also Know Stuff, where I am primarily in charge of the @womenalsoknow Twitter account (follow us!).  In this role my focus is on promoting research by women experts in political science, media that features women experts in political science, and research related to gender in the academy.   By sharing women experts’ work on our Twitter feed we hope to leverage social media to amplify the voices of women.  This approach also acknowledges the reality that women are less likely to promote their own work, cite themselves, feature their work in their syllabi, and say yes to media requests.  We hope that by providing a space for women experts we can extend networks, positively influence self-promotion norms, and bring attention to gender imbalance in the media and elsewhere.  While we know that our social media efforts tackle just a small part of a very large, institutional problem, it is one tangible, low-cost way we can make a positive change.

Quick plug: if you are someone doing work that meets these criteria or know of someone that is please tweet us or share with the hashtag #womenalsoknowstuff.

In addition to joining your list, what else do you recommend women political scientists do to share their expertise with broader audiences?

Searles: Aside from follow us @womenalsoknow and sharing their work using #womenalsoknowstuff, there are a couple of things women can do to increase the visibility of their work.  First, share your research and media features on Twitter and elsewhere, and do the same for others.  There is a robust network of early career researchers in political science active on Twitter and the most influential use the medium to communicate science in a public-facing way, something that is increasingly important for all of us to do.  Which brings me to my second related point, utilize political science blogs such as the Monkey Cage, Ducks of Minerva, Mischiefs of Faction, and FiveThirtyEight to communicate research to a broader audience.   Third, inform your institutional Media Relations team about your media features and research accomplishments.  Women are often hesitant to “brag” about their successes, but your colleagues, students, and parents should hear about the work of women in the university – this is a big part of changing perceptions regarding expertise.   And finally, say yes to media requests when you can.  If you do say no, make sure that it is NOT because you are feeling uncertain about your capabilities.  Feelings of uncertainty or inadequacy about our scholarship plague scholars regardless of gender, however, research shows women are more likely to say no because of those feelings.  Empower yourself, and that will hopefully embolden others to do the same.

What can women political scientists do to foster the next generation of women experts?

Searles: When I mentor my students, I am frank about the ways implicit (and sometimes explicit) biases shape our profession.  And while it is of course important to have that conversation with our women students, it is equally as important to have the same conversation with men.  Moreover, it is important to point out that woman political scientists should not bear the burden of securing a greater voice for the next generation – men should also take on the responsibility of promoting the work of their woman colleagues, co-authors, and students.   Can’t do a media request?  Suggest a woman in your field.  Attending an all male-panel?  Point this out to the organizers, suggest some women experts and recommend they use womenalsoknowstuff.com next time.

Tell us more about your background and work in political science.

Searles: I am an Assistant Professor of Political Communication, jointly appointed in the Department of Political Science and Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University.  My research draws on political communication and political psychology to better understand the effects of news and campaigns in American politics.

Tell us about a recent research project.

Searles: Right now I am focused on a project that uses eye tracking technology to better understand when campaign advertisements are most effective.  Using this technology I can get a better understanding of participant attention beyond unreliable self-report measures, which is particularly advantageous when we’re trying to understand the effectiveness of negative advertisements.  I am most excited about this project as it has the potential to not only contribute to scholarship on the subject, but also influence campaign advertising in practice.

Look for more profiles from Women Also Know Stuff editorial board members in the coming weeks.