This is a guest post by Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham (@kgcunnin), Associate Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland.
Foreign Policy recently published our article on women and the tenure process in International Relations. The article centers on the challenges women face and offers some suggestions on how to manage them for pre-tenure women based on our experiences. We conclude the article, in part, with a call to allies (i.e. people who are not, or are no longer, affected by these biases or are in a position to address them). Here, I offer 8 ways that such allies can do this:
- Understand the ways that the system is biased against women and the role that we all play in maintain the status quo.
- Revise your syllabi to include work by women.
- Reach out to women (especially junior women) by incorporating them in professional networks and inviting them to participate in special issues and topical conferences.
- Refuse to participate in men only events (i.e. panels, forums with all men).
- Call out instances of bias when you see them.
- Don’t hijack women’s conversations in professional settings, and work to ensure everyone is expected to speak in important conversations when you are in charge.
- Ask women about their research.
- Work to change the system when you can (advocate for parental leave policy, advocate for attention to genders issues in your department like uneven service obligation, bring up gender bias in teaching evaluations whenever this is used to evaluate faculty, advocate for back-up care, subsidized daycare, attention to public school breaks and holidays in establishing academic calendars, and spousal hiring).
Some of the suggestions are low cost to implement, some require more commitment and investment on the part of allies. Not everyone need be the standard bearer for gender equality in academia, but we can all work for it by utilizing the opportunities presented to us.
Great post. I think men on search committees need to actively seek out and include women for the short lists and interview lists for open positions. I think something equivalent to the NFL or Rooney rule for women ought to apply for academic jobs. It’s tough when you are simultaneously trying to satisfy multiple forms of diversity at the same time, but if people aren’t careful, it’s pretty easy for searches to invite a bunch of guys, and white guys at that, as final candidates. It’s also important for men to be advocates for the search committee’s final recommendations to the dean or department chair. If a department is making multiple hires in a year, and none of them end up being women, it’s pretty easy to see why many departments end up skewing male. Since many departments are gender imbalanced to start with, it’s not going to be enough for the handful of women to press for more gender inclusion unless men step up and say it’s embarrassing that our department is 2/3 or 3/4 male.