Women are mysteriously missing from D.C. think tanks’ foreign policy panels. Here’s the data.

In The News

August 23 at 5:00 AM

Throughout academia, including in political science, women haven’t achieved parity with men. As this series explores, implicit bias holds women back at every stage, from the readings professors assign to the student evaluations that influence promotions and pay, from journal publications to book awards. These political and sociological problems deserve study as much as any of the other issues the academy investigates. Here’s the third piece in our two-week series on the gender gap in political science — and what we can do about it. — Kim Yi Dionne

Although women make up half the world’s population and a growing proportion of scholars and analysts, they’re often absent in convenings of “experts.” That’s true across a number of industries, according to an event management company’s report on gender diversity in about 60,000 events between 2013 and 2018 across 23 countries; the company found that 69 percent of all speakers were male. That’s close to what political scientists Tamara Cofman Wittes and Marc Lynch found when examining women’s participation in Middle East Policy panel events in 2014: Fewer than one-quarter of all the speakers at 232 events put on by six Washington think tanks were women — and 65 percent of the events included no women at all.

That matters, for a variety of reasons. It means women with expertise aren’t getting the kind of exposure that helps their ideas spread and their careers advance. And it means that policies and decisions are made with only men’s input, depriving us all of women’s knowledge and insights.

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