Ten Insights Regarding Sexual Harassment and Diversity in the Academy

Loan K. Le

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The flood of #MeToo revelations has demonstrated the commonality of sexual harassment and how regularly these claims go unreported, often due to personal safety, and professional retaliation fears. While the women’s movement ushered in legal recourse for sexual harassment claims, many women and men do not exercise their rights. Sociolegal scholars explain what happens to complaints on the ground as an exercise of political power that can quash the rights of those with limited resources. Amy Blackstone, Christopher Uggen and Heather McLaughlin argued in Law and Society Review that assailants often choose women who are least likely to complain. As Anna Maria Marshall and Abigail Saguy have argued, people and workplace organizations explain problems in ways that limit their meaning as unequal working conditions, or sexual assault. Taken together, institutionalized and socioeconomic barriers influence the degree to which individuals are affected by sexual harassment and their access to recourse.

The #MeToo revelations have drawn attention to additional hurdles that women face in the work place, and this includes those of us working in higher education. However, we have yet to see a discussion of the systematic problems in the academy. Here, Loan Le, President of the Institute of Good Government and Inclusion, takes up the invitation in the New West blog to reflect on how sexual harassment, stalking, and assault likely affects gender representation in the academy. Here, she presents ten early insights from an ongoing study.

Susan Sterett and Jennifer Diascro

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It’s Not “Just A Cake”: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

By Lorna Bracewell

Gay Wedding Cake

On Tuesday, December 5, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that court-watchers are calling the biggest case of the termMasterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. V. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The facts of the case are not in dispute. In 2012, David Mullins, Charlie Craig, and Deborah Munn, Craig’s mother, went to Masterpiece Cakeshop, a Denver-area bakery, to order a specialty wedding cake. After a brief conversation, the bakery’s owner, Jack Phillips, refused to make a cake for the same-sex couple on the grounds that he is a Christian and believes same-sex marriage is sinful.

Humiliated by Phillips’s refusal – in an interview with NPR, Craig’s mother recalls her son breaking down in tears once they returned to the car – Mullins and Craig decided to file a complaint against Masterpiece Cakeshop with Colorado’s state commission on civil rights. Colorado is one of only 21 states with a law prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and one of only 19 states with a law prohibiting such discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The only federal legislation affording LGBT people any form of anti-discrimination protection is the Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which makes hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity federal crimes.

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Advancement Through Narrative: Reflecting, Listening, Changing

By Jennifer Diascro and Susan Sterett

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“I need to build a house for my house.”  So began a reflection at a workshop that brought together faculty and administrators from political science to discuss what graduate students and faculty members need in the academy to thrive. What allows people to have a house for their house?

More often than not, when we think about how to thrive we try to take advice about how to succeed in our particular work settings. And this individualized information can be very valuable. Yet, our tendency is to provide suggestions that work within existing institutions. To be sure, we may share what hasn’t been effective, but most advice comes from a position of successfully navigating current structures by those who have benefitted from them. Among the notable lessons from the recent explosion of news about sexual assault in the public and private sectors is what happens when people in a profession treat persistent practices as universal and out of our control. We have legitimate complaints that we may vocalize from time to time, but mostly we work around the problems we encounter and go about our business because the norms of behavior and structures for advancement seem to provide us few choices. This is particularly true for the more disadvantaged among us, including in the academy, who are encouraged to choose strategically about family, and to negotiate individually and collectively. While well-meaning, the concern is that this contributes to an already lopsided playing field, where the burden rests on those with more to lose.

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Metrics, Metrics, (Alt)metrics

By Amy Atchison

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If it sometimes feels like success in academia boils down to metrics, that’s because in many US institutions it does (sadly) boil down to metrics. We all know that it isn’t just the number of publications you have. It’s also the impact factor of the journals in which those articles were published, the citation count per article, and your h-index score. (And don’t get me started on the non-research metrics, like course evaluations—which we all know are notoriously flawed. See here, here, and here.) Those are all pretty common measures that are widely used. But a recent Twitter thread indicated to me that some political scientists may not be aware of a new(ish) measure that can help to quantify use of your non-publication outputs as well as your social media reach: altmetrics. This is helpful if your institution puts a premium on public engagement.

Altmetrics are simply alternative measures of scholarly reach/output. They include measures like the number of downloads of your work from your institutional repository or number of mentions on social media. The usage metrics provided by Academia.edu or Research Gate are also considered alternatives to traditional metrics (use the latter with caution, though).

In this post, I focus on Altmetric Badges from Altmetric.com because they aggregate many sources of attention and because many leading journals have started adding Badges to their sites. I give a brief overview of altmetrics, including how they can be used in promotion and tenure (P&T) applications, as well as the pros/cons. I end the post with a brief overview of the problems inherent in many of the traditional measures we use to evaluate scholarship (citation counts, journal impact factors, etc.) since I have found that almost no one tells people these things in grad school. (But they’re helpful to know!)

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#WPSA17 Award Winners

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Thank you to our conference community and the city of Vancouver, BC for a successful #WPSA17! Below is a list of those scholars who won an award at the 2017 conference for their exceptional 2016 conference papers. If you would like to submit a paper from WPSA17 to be awarded at next year’s conference in San Francisco, please see the information toward the bottom of this post.

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A message from WPSA 2017 President, Julie Novkov

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Dear Member of WPSA:
 
The Western Political Science Association has long had a reputation for hosting a welcoming annual meeting where scholars consciously orient their presentations toward significant problems in politics. It is also the home of annual pre-conference workshops on Latino politics, environmental politics, feminist political theory, and other specialized inquiries. WPSA prides itself on its spirit of lively inquiry with a critical focus on political issues that matter not just to political scientists, but to anyone who cares about the health and vitality of politics, policy, democracy, and civic engagement. 

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