Showing Up for Each Other: Workshopping Thriving

By Susan M. Sterett and Taneisha Means

Photo Credit: Mark Fathi Massoud. The fruits of procrastinating while an academic.

Improving inclusion in political science requires better conflict management, changing department culture, and cultivating strategies for taking care of ourselves, including moving past the inevitable rejection built into the profession. Political Science in the Twenty First Century synthesized the lack of progress in diversifying the political science profession, and the need for intentional effort to improve. This post consolidates some resources from a half-day workshop during the 2019 WPSA annual meeting about how to manage one’s life to thrive in the profession. We include resources for self-care since the academy can be hard, and we cannot control other people’s bad behavior, particularly indifference or anonymous hostile reviews. Legal complaints won’t fix it all, not least because it’s not illegal to be a jerk. Symposia in political science have suggested strategies to make collective claims. The APSA 2018 diversity and inclusion hackathon has great suggestions. Seeing the next steps we ourselves can take to thrive can still be difficult. The recent symposium in PS on stories and the profession offers reflections on thriving in difficult circumstances. Maybe the glare of attention and the recent APSA #MeToo short course will contribute to remedying sexual harassment and assault. Thanks to others’ contributions to blogs, Twitter, and reports like the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD), we have plenty of information about practical steps we can each take to make it more possible to do our work, and transform institutions so that everyone can thrive. Here we suggest some practices to allow us all to thrive by focusing on what we can do.

On April 17, the WPSA Committee on the Status of Women held a half-day workshop to learn about managing conflict in our personal and professional lives in a way that contributes to everyone’s good health. We welcomed MarDestinee Perez of UCSD’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Later in the afternoon we joined with the Committee on the Status of Latinas/os to learn from each other about managing indifference and rejection.

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(Not) Fake News? Navigating Competing Claims Regarding Status Threat and Trump Support

Jon Green, Sean McElwee, Meredith Conroy, and Colin McAuliffe 

In this research note, we analyze a recent critique of Mutz (2018). In her article, Mutz finds “status threat” to predict support for Trump in 2016. The criticism argues that “status threat” is ill- defined and -measured and that Mutz mis-specified her models. We explore each claim in turn. To view this research note as a PDF, visit here

Summary Of Findings

  • The choice to include immigration, trade, China, terrorism, and isolationism attitudes as status threat, not a material interest, as is done in Mutz (2018) is defensible. Morgan (2018) does not provide sufficient reasons for rejecting this categorization.
  • The modeling choices made in (Mutz 2018) are defensible.
  • Morgan’s concerns regarding causality are also defensible.
  • Attitudes about immigration were a key determinant in the 2016 election outcome.

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WPSA Statement of Resignation of Drexel Professor, George Ciccariello-Maher

The Western Political Science Association notes with grave alarm the resignation of Drexel University’s George Ciccariello-Maher as of December 31, 2017. Despite a formal statement in which Drexel acknowledged his “significant scholarly contributions” and “outstanding” teaching record, it had placed him on leave making it impractical for him to practice his craft. Ciccariello-Maher’s resignation is a crucial reminder that academic freedom cannot survive, let alone flourish, without the full support of the entire university community. No one should be placed in Professor Ciccariello-Maher’s positon and be required, in the face of political pressure and personal and familial death threats, to embody and defend the core principles to the mission of higher education by themselves. His fate should serve as a call to arms to the academic community at large. Organized assaults against academic freedom continue.

-Western Political Science Association Policy Committee

Ten Insights Regarding Sexual Harassment and Diversity in the Academy

Loan K. Le


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


“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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Pink Cat-Ear Hats, Knitted Solidarity, and Women’s Rights

By Meaghan Charlton

Pink, cat-ear hats emerged as the symbol of the Women’s March on Washington through the Pussyhat Project.  In response, some have suggested that the pink hats might be a goofy distraction to the women’s rights movement or a visual that problematically reduces femininity to biological characteristics. However, approaching the pink hat initiative from this angle neglects to recognize knitting’s long-standing deployment as a social movement and solidarity-building tactic, , its inclusivity of disabled, caretaker, and LGBTQ populations, and the reclaiming function the pink hat project embodies.

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