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Gender in the Political Science Classroom looks at the roles gender plays in teaching and learning in the traditionally male-dominated field of political science. The contributors to this collection bring a new perspective to investigations of gender issues in the political behavior literature and feminist pedagogy by uniting them with the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). The volume offers a balance between the theoretical and the practical, and includes discussions of issues such as curriculum, class participation, service learning, doctoral dissertations, and professional placements. The contributors reveal the discipline of political science as a source of continuing gender-based inequities, but also as a potential site for transformative pedagogy and partnerships that are mindful of gender. While the contributors focus on the discipline of political science, their findings about gender in higher education are relevant to SoTL practitioners, other social-science disciplines, and the academy at large.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253033215
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 07/12/2018
Series: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Pages: 298
Sales rank: 1,042,826
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Ekaterina Levintova is Associate Professor of Political Science, Global Studies, and Democracy and Justice Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. She is co-editor (with Kevin Kain) of From Peasant to Patriarch: An Account of the Birth, Upbringing, and Life of Nikon, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

Alison Staudinger is Assistant Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies, Political Science, and Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

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Gendering the Political Science Classroom While Mainstreaming Gender in the Discipline: Understanding the Barriers and Exploring Solutions

Ingrid Bego

In 1936, the political scientist Harold Lasswell stated that politics determines "who gets what, when, and how." Particularly, Lasswell (1936) argued that the political science discipline should dedicate itself "to [studying] the influence and the influential," (25) the distribution of power and resources in the society. Almost forty years later, political science as a discipline would acknowledge that perhaps individuals' identities play a role in how they participate and partake in the political process. Prior to the feminist movement of the 1960s, only a few books or articles pertaining to women were written by political scientists1 and from 1901 to 1966 only eleven dissertations focusing on women were completed (Shanley and Schuck 1974). Thus, political science, not unlike other disciplines within the realm of social science and beyond, has risen out of a legacy of omission and has only a very short history of critically assessing identity politics, and, more particularly, the role of gender in politics.

It is not surprising that like the political institutions it examines, the political science discipline struggles with barriers to equality in representation, pay, prestige, and parity in positions of leadership (American Political Science Association 2004, 2011). Like political institutions, higher education institutions and whole disciplines (including political science) are prone to resisting change and perpetuating the status quo. Historical institutionalists argue that "institutions are sticky" and likely to change only under certain periods of upheaval referred to as "critical junctures." (Hall 1986; Pierson 2000; Thelen 1999; Thelen and Steinmo 1992). Thus, even though gender equality and gender justice are globally accepted standards of human rights, institutional inertia continues to perpetuate the status quo, requiring strong winds of change sweeping a discipline to significantly change norms and practices. Higher education institutions provide ideal conditions for perpetuating existing inequalities: access for the next generation of political scientists is only granted to those who have been successfully taught and mentored by previous generations. Until the axes of inequality are fairly represented in each aspect of political science, we will continue to reproduce a work force of future academics, professionals, and global citizens who will accept and be willing to move forward under the same gender norms and concepts that were either left undiscussed or mirrored inaccurately in our classrooms. This chapter argues that, using the tools political scientists themselves have developed to understand institutions, we can transform our discipline and match the global commitment for a more just and diverse future.

I propose expanding two concepts in political science to ground this change: gender mainstreaming and gendering of a topic or policy. These two underexplored ideas can serve to anchor gender as a threshold concept, as discussed in the introductory chapter. The term gender mainstreaming arose out of the United Nations (UN) Conference on Women, in Beijing, China, in 1995. The UN argued that "gender mainstreaming entails bringing the perceptions, experience, knowledge and interests of women as well as men to bear on policy-making, planning and decision-making" (United Nations 2002). This meant that gender would become part of mainstream policies, requiring all policymakers to consider the impact of their actions on women and men. The concept of gendering has been mainly used by scholars of public policy, referring to the insertion of language that explicitly makes a distinction between the experiences of men and women during policy debates (Ferree and Merrill 2000; McBride and Parry 2011; True 2003). Gendering the policy discourse recognizes that issues affect different women differently and presents actors and supporters with the opportunity to legitimately participate in the process and affect the policy outcome.

This chapter will lift the concepts of gender mainstreaming and gendering from the feminist policy literature and apply them generally to the political science discipline and more specifically to the classroom. While many topics covered in the classroom have different repercussions for men and women, instructors rarely have any type of guidelines on how to approach the issue from a gender equality perspective. Positive discrimination is looked on as going against neutrality in the classroom, yet so many of the topics discussed in class already affect women differently than men. The process referred to as degendering seems to be the status quo for the discipline. The absence of certain content is just as relevant as the inclusion of particular content presented through the concept of the "hidden curriculum" (Jackson 1968). The hidden curriculum refers to the socialization process of schooling, as well as the unspoken, unintentional teaching that takes place in our classrooms. "Until learning states are acknowledged or the learners are aware of them ... they remain hidden even if sociologists, bureaucrats, and teachers are all aware of them. Thus a hidden curriculum can be found yet remain hidden, for finding is one thing and telling is another" (Martin 1994, 162). In political science, the hidden curriculum reinforces stereotypes about gender, status, and power (Cassese, Bos, and Duncan 2012). Therefore, there is a need for a conscious effort to critically examine barriers to gendering the classroom and to propose institutional and pedagogical instructions for teaching political science in the twenty-first century.

This chapter introduces the need for mainstreaming and gendering the political science classroom and presents a brief overview of how gender as a construct has entered the discipline. The state of the discipline with regard to gendering the classroom is analyzed using national survey data as well as qualitative data presented in the American Political Science Association Task Force Report prepared in 2011. The concepts of gender mainstreaming and gendering the classroom are discussed and placed in context, explaining how gender can be applied in a way that allows for better understanding of political concepts and how it can open up even larger discussion of power structures and institutional hierarchy. Lastly, the chapter proposes some strategies and solutions for overcoming the gender-blind approach to topics (e.g., war and poverty) and how to instead intentionally insert a gender equity framework into our political science classrooms.

Gender and the Discipline

To understand the need for more systematic efforts toward inclusion in our political science classrooms, we must take a brief journey over the last four decades, during which social movements changed the way scholarship and teaching were conducted. The discipline has experienced a significant degree of change over the past forty years (American Political Science Association 2011). In many cases, political scientists themselves were change agents from within. The study of women and politics within the discipline of political science was stimulated by and has evolved contemporaneously with the feminist movement (Carroll and Zerrilli 1993). The Women's Caucus for Political Science, founded in 1971, began in 1972 to sponsor papers on women and politics at the annual meetings of the American Political Science Association (APSA), and during the early to mid-1970s the first few path-breaking books on women and politics were published. Simultaneously, as illustrated in chapter 4 by Jennifer Curtin's discussion of political science in New Zealand, the discipline was awakened to the need to study women in politics globally. By the early 1990s, the number of papers, articles, and books written by political scientists focusing on women and politics or feminist theory grew considerably. The study of women and politics also became more institutionalized within the discipline throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Two of the most important developments were the establishment in 1981 of the journal Women and Politics, today known as the Journal of Women, Politics, and Policy, symbolizing the evolution of studies across time, and the formation of an Organized Section on Women and Politics Research within the APSA in 1986. In March 2005, the first issue of Politics & Gender, a journal of the APSA's Women and Politics section, appeared in print (Isaac 2014).

The first wave of literature on women and politics critiqued the ways political theory and empirical research in political science have traditionally excluded women as political actors and rendered them either invisible or apolitical. This was a first step toward defining a separate space for gender and politics within the confines of political science. Several important critiques appeared in the 1970s (Boals 1975; Bourque and Grossholtz 1974; Elshtain 1979; Goot and Reid 1975; Iglitzin 1974; Jaquette 1974; Okin 1979; Shanley and Schuck 1974) as well as in the 1990s (Ackelsberg and Diamond 1987; Grant 1991; Halliday 1991; Nelson 1989; Randall 1991; Sapiro 1989). The critiques argued that the foundations of political science, namely political theory and philosophy, have excluded women from politics. Women were invisible in public matters. Feminist scholars were set to bring women back into the picture and examine the reasons women were ignored for so long, as well as how this exclusion has affected our ideas about citizenship, power, and political participation. Feminist scholars pointed out flawed propositions in previous research (Berelson, Lazarsfeld, and McPhee 1954; Campbell et al. 1960; Greenstein 1965) that portrayed women as lacking in political interest and involvement, having low political efficacy, and holding belief systems that lack conceptual sophistication. Early behavioral political scientists accepted unquestioningly the public-private divide and the relegation of women to responsibilities and activities in the private sphere, an assumption evident in much of Western political thought (Elshtain 1979). Having painted women as apolitical, researchers were not interested in asking questions about women's lack of representation in mainstream political institutions, neither were they interested in women's voices or points of view.

In contrast, as the study of women and politics developed, research was conducted that attempted to add women into politics — "add women and stir" — to make them visible as political actors while accepting the existing dominant frameworks of political analysis (Diamond 1977; Eisenstein 1981; Githens and Prestage 1977; Kirkpatrick 1974, 1976; Shanley 1989). These research studies looked at how women were faring on different political issues, including electoral politics. Women were studied as parts of social groups and movements, both anti- and profeminist (Boles 1979; Costain 1982; Freeman 1975; Gelb 1989; Gelb and Palley 1982; Klatch 1987; Mansbridge 1986; Mathews and De Hart 1990), and researchers also assessed their success in affecting public policy. The data showed that women were no different than similarly situated men: they were just as likely to raise money (Burrell 2005; Fox 2006), participate in political activities, and be interested in following political campaigns. Thus, the myth that women were biologically and unchangeably different than men was debunked. When women acted differently than men it was because of differences in variables such as education, working outside of the home, having children, and other socially constructed differences (Andersen 1975; Baxter and Lansing 1980; Hansen, Franz, and Netemeyer-Mays 1976; Sapiro 1982, 1983; Welch 1977). Some work has found differences between men and women in political ambition within political parties (Constantini 1990; Fowlkes, Perkins, and Tolleson-Rinehart 1979; Kirkpatrick 1974; Sapiro 1982), while other research focusing on women officeholders found no evidence of the discrepancy (Carroll 1985; Diamond 1977; Palmer and Simon 2003). Incumbency also played a large role in women's electoral success (Dolan 2004; Fox 2006). Additionally, cross-national studies demonstrated that women's representation in national legislatures was greater in countries with proportional representation, especially those using party lists, than in countries like the United States that elect representatives based on plurality voting (Lovenduski 1986; Norris 1985). The introduction and implementation of quotas in some European political parties has further enhanced women's representation in these countries (Dahlerup 1988). The literature on women and politics has made a great contribution by demonstrating that all political subjects are gendered rather than gender-neutral as previously claimed.

Adding women to existing models of political science research was a step forward in acknowledging the presence of women in political life; however, these efforts did not go beyond attempting to understand how sex characteristics affect political life. Biological differences alone were not what held women back in the history of humanity, rather their socialization according to these sex differences, hence the concept of gender. A major challenge for the study of women and politics was to look beyond surface differences and analyze sex and gender as interrelated but separate concepts. Research has called into question whether our dominant frameworks in political science can accommodate the inclusion of women as political actors and called for a reconceptualization of many of the assumptions and definitions central to political science (Carroll and Zerrilli 1993, 55).

Sex refers to a biological state, while gender is understood in the context of relations between men and women that are embodied in the sexual division of labor, compulsory heterosexuality, discourses and ideologies of citizenship, motherhood, masculinity, and femininity (Orloff 1996). Gender is a larger, more encompassing concept than sex when it comes to understanding politics and its divisions of power. Referring to women alone does not fully capture the modalities of interactions in political institutions and the full dynamics of the political processes. The shift from studying sex to studying gender reshaped the research questions asked and offered important new understanding of how political life has developed and changed.

Young (2002) argues that gender as a concept is necessary to theorize structural processes that position individual subjects in unequal relations of power. Furthermore, she claims that the concept of gender is indispensable for analyzing the institutionalized asymmetries experienced by men and women. Gender is an attribute of social structures more than of persons (Young 2002, 422); it is a form of social positioning of lived bodies in relation to one another. Moreover, Young proposes that gender works along three irreducible axes: the sexual division of labor (or the allocation of productive and reproductive activities by sex), normative heterosexuality (or the presumption that affective partnerships and family units are based on the sexual bond between a woman and a man), and hierarchies of power (an institutionalized valuation of particular associations of maleness or masculinity). Young's approach positions gender and politics well within the scope of political science. After all, studying structures and institutions is a major task of the discipline.

One of the implications of shifting attention from sex to gender is the reformulation of the concepts that underlie our analysis — a refashioning of the discipline (Lovenduski 1998). The reconsideration of the public versus private division has been one outcome of examining gender instead of sex. Susan Carroll found no evidence of the divide, rather public and private in the lives of women officeholders seem to constitute a holistic system of interrelated social relations, where any action taken or choice made has repercussions throughout the system (1989, 63). Therefore, the private is public (Millet 1971). The statement alone did much to position gender and politics in political science, since previously women were seen as private actors and outside of the scope of the discipline. The notion of the public sphere as the sphere of male citizens enjoying rights from that women were excluded has long been central to political theory (Pateman 1983, 1988). Research on this divide (Carroll 1989; Elshtain 1981), however, has demonstrated the value of public and private spheres interacting to affect women's political stances and activities. Private issues such as domestic violence and rape need to be brought forward into the public sphere for women to enjoy full citizenship rights (Phillips 1991). What counts as political and the public sphere focused narrowly on formal activities within the conventional political arena (Waylen 2007). The definition excludes many of the activities where women's contributions are most prevalent. A wider definition that incorporates informal political activity associated with communities and social movements will give us a different picture of the nature of women's political participation.


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Table of Contents

Introduction: Teach It Forward: Gender in the Political Science Classroom and Beyond / Ekaterina Levintova and Alison Staudinger

Part One: National and Institutional Trends
1. Gendering the Political Science Classroom while Mainstreaming Gender in the Discipline: Understanding the Barriers and Exploring Solutions / Ingrid Bego
2. Divergent? Gender and Methodological Diversity in Recent Political Science Dissertations, 2012–2014 / Rina Verma Williams and Laura Dudley Jenkins
3. Gendered Representation in Political Science Textbooks / Daniel Mueller
4. Gender Mainstreaming and Political Science Teaching in New Zealand: Still a Work in Progress / Jennifer Curtin
5. Student Perceptions of Gender in Political Science Teaching and Advising / Ekaterina Levintova

Part Two: Classroom Evidence and Solutions
6. Getting to No: The Need for Gender-Conscious Pedagogy in Service-Learning Courses / Daisy Rooks
7. Class Format, Gender, and Student Attitudes Toward Political Participation / Sara Rinfret and Michelle Pautz
8. Beyond Gender Neutrality in Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and the Classroom / Alison Staudinger
9. Thinking Through Movement: Embodied Learning as Feminist Pedagogy for the Social Sciences / Valerie Barske

Conclusion: Gender Forward: Momentum for the Future / Ekaterina Levintova and Alison Staudinger


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". . . a bold and compelling collection that asks important questions about the ways in which the teaching of Political Science reproduces gender inequities." "

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". . . a bold and compelling collection that asks important questions about the ways in which the teaching of Political Science reproduces gender inequities."

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". . . a bold and compelling collection that asks important questions about the ways in which the teaching of Political Science reproduces gender inequities."

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