Dear Wondering Woman. I’m a new incoming tenure track professor in a department that is fairly new and has not yet set policies on how to achieve tenure. There is a tenure policy at the college level but it is left to the department on how to fill in the details. How should I approach the conversation with the chair so that I have a written commitment about what requirements I need to fulfill for tenure? I am especially concerned that I receive accurate information on which publication outlets count, especially concerning types of publications, numbers of publication, books versus articles, grants, etc. In other words, I need to know as clearly and precisely as possible what is required of me. What is the trade-off between teaching and service and publication? What is the role of professional activity? What counts for professional activity? How are the various aspects of research-service-teaching valued? Do joint articles/books count? Work done with members of my thesis committee?  In essence, what should a tenure plan contain and how can I get it in writing? Thanks for any advice here.

From Jessica Lavariega Monforti (Pace University). I suggest asking for a discussion to create a Letter of Expectations where the Department Chair and faculty negotiate and then agree upon the requirements for the third year review and ultimately tenure and promotion. The letter is then signed by both parties and included in review and tenure/promotion dossiers. In this conversation(s) you can ask the questions you outlined above. Using this tool, you can get a better sense of what the performance expectations are across research, teaching, and service in your department.

Sexual Harassment

  1. A fellow faculty member – an older, tenured professor – has been sexually harassing me. What do I do? I’m afraid if I confront him directly that he’ll retaliate. I know there are university procedures to follow but I’m afraid that following them will let him know I am the one who filed a complaint, then I’ll risk not getting tenure, or even losing my job before I get up for tenure.
  2. I am a male faculty member and am aware that there is gender and sexual discrimination going on in my department. What is the best way to address it? Should I speak with offenders individually? Have a group meeting? Should I include female faculty too, or just focus on other male faculty?

Note from Kristen. This column has two questions on sexual harassment. Given the nature of the second question in particular, I sent this out to several male colleagues as well, people who are well known scholars and top APSA officials active in APSA and the profession. I include their responses, which often were asked to be anonymous.

Comment from a senior male colleague. This man writes that during his first few months as Department chair (now 30 years ago) he had to deal with two serious cases of sexual harassment. One led (with his strong support) to the firing of a tenured professor.  “At that time this question would have been realistic, though we handled it.”  But this male comments that he would honestly be shocked now to learn that any major university lacked strong protections for complainants in this situation.  (This is different from student-student harassment, where protection is harder, he thinks.) He notes further that if the question means “discrimination,” not “harassment,” then open political action (lobbying colleagues and administrators) is the way to go.  Whom to approach, in what sequence, and in what forum (public/private) should depend on the local politics, but those questions seem pretty straightforward.  He was puzzled by the question’s phrase: “Should I speak with offenders individually?” because he found “offender” sounds more like harassment than discrimination, but if the question refers to faculty members who are defending discriminatory policies (e.g., job searches, salaries, office sizes, etc.), then beginning in private conversations would be more effective. He concludes that public conversations (and even confrontations) seem perfectly legitimate response to this kind of discrimination.

Comment. The point about the distinction between discrimination and harassment is well taken.  Discrimination calls for systematic analysis and remedies rather than ad hoc treatment as in the case of harassment.  Because departmental leadership may well be at issue here, bringing up the topic can be tricky.  In any event, both private and public airing seem justified, the particulars being heavily dependent on the immediate environment.  Sooner or later, and preferably sooner, the chair has to be involved.

A senior colleague – male – comments: Usually, my recommendation would be to start with the departmental chair (unless he/she happens to be the harasser or known non-sympathizer!).  That was the procedure used for the one clear case that I know about here.  Doing so follows a chain of command, begins a paper trail, does not at that stage involve other people, and may in the best of circumstances result in changed behavior. The chair may be able to effect changed behavior without the offended person being identified.  Of course if the behavior is egregiously bad and patently actionable, then the next or even the first step would be to contact the relevant university office. Retaliation would be unlikely under those circumstances given the rules at work today.

At the other extreme let’s say the harassment is mild, maybe even ambiguous, and the harasser does not recognize his behavior as harassment (alright, maybe denial but let’s say it’s so), and is otherwise known as a fair-minded person.  It’s possible, maybe even desirable, that the offended person in that situation confront the offender instead of going to the chair.  Overall, one way to look at what course of action to take from a tenure type perspective is to argue that ongoing harassment seriously impedes progress toward tenure, so why isn’t it just as good or even better strategy to confront the offender or file a complaint and risk possible retribution.  At least his duplicity would be revealed and the ongoing harassment (hopefully) ended.  This is a “what have I got to lose” approach, admittedly not without risks.

Kristen Monroe adds: I want to add to an aspect of the problem that the previous speaker raised, and I think which is an important one: the extent to which we all often are simply insensitive. It’s important, if possible, to not frame the situation in a way that allows for no apology, no growth on the part of the insensitive person who may have made the sexist remark, engaged in the offensive behavior. (This is not to say we should turn a blind eye, saying “Boys will be boys” and count on self-correction.) But if we can encourage changed behavior on the part of the sexual harasser or – more likely – the person whose insensitivity has led him – or her – to sexually offensive behavior or even discrimination, then we’ve made a big change. Similarly, it is extremely important to empower the person who has been harassed. I had one student who was being harassed by a male faculty. The man would sneak up behind her and kiss her neck, or make sensitive remarks. She was from a country with traditional norms, and did not want her husband to know of her situation, for fear he would make a scene and force her to withdraw from graduate school. I respected her wishes on this and asked if I could talk with my dean (a man), without revealing either the student’s name or the name of the faculty member involved. She agreed. The dean asked if she would meet with him, and eventually she did. The dean walked her through a scenario in which they acted out a different type of behavior. She was to pretend she had been touched, at which point she would whirl around, point her finger in the man’s face, and say, with great anger and force: “If you ever touch me again, I will report you so fast your head will spin. “In another scenario, she told him she would knock his block off. The student felt tremendously supported by the dean – a man – and said that she felt empowered and informed on what to do in the situation. I thought this was a good resolution, and was pleased that she had trusted me enough to tell me about the situation in the first situation. I was proud of my dean for his way of dealing with it even though I also was unhappy that the solution essentially had protected the school and the offending faculty, who remained in his place to prey on other women, without any correction or without paying for his behavior in any way. But I felt that I had to respect the student’s wishes here, and to protect her privacy. I welcome any thoughts on a better solution to a situation such as this one since, as the initial question makes clear, the fear of retaliation against one who protests is a real one, based in some reality.

Comment from Martha Ackelsberg. Many institutions now have some sort of “diversity officer,” ombudsperson, or other person in such an office. Often, those are the folks who are best equipped to help individual faculty members figure out how to intervene in, and/or otherwise handle such situations. I have often found it useful to go outside the immediate department for advice of this sort. Depending on the advice/conversation, you might then decide to bring it up with the individual faculty members, with the chair, or to have the diversity officer suggest resources for a department (or, under appropriate circumstances, come to a meeting and provide some information/workshop/guidance). (Martha Ackelsberg, Smith College)

Comment from Sara Mitchell: I think a good first step is to speak with the Department Chair about what you have observed or heard. The Chair could discuss the issues with the Department’s Executive Committee (if one exists) and the entire department at a faculty meeting. If you are more senior, you may ask to add the general topic to the agenda of a faculty meeting. If you are not comfortable paying those costs (e.g. as a more junior person), then either find a senior ally who can help you raise the issues or speak with the Chair. How private or public the response could be depends on the nature of the problem. Let’s imagine that senior male faculty are discriminating against junior female faculty in some manner. It could be difficult to address that as a collective in a faculty meeting if the offenders make up a larger percentage of the senior faculty. Another thing that the Department Chair could be encouraged to do is share articles that address particular gender discrimination issues in the profession (e.g. citations, publications, student evaluations) with all faculty members. Really serious discrimination issues should be raised with higher level administrators. (Sara Mitchell, Iowa)

From Michelle Swers. I would endorse Martha’s idea of speaking to the diversity officer. Another possibility is if the department does provide a faculty mentor to junior faculty and the person has a good relationship with that senior faculty mentor they could discuss the concern and how to proceed with them.  Otherwise I think approaching the department chair is a good suggestion.   Michele

From Anonymous (get approval before sending out): In case you haven’t seen the Science article: click here!

For what they are worth, here are a (very) few thoughts on your question.

#1 is both the easiest & hardest–easiest because it doesn’t raise the nasty question of dealing with colleagues, but it is also probably hardest to solve.  Of course the person should avail herself (yes, it could be himself, but almost never is) of all the university rights, such as time off & day care (if the person believes in day care).  In general, as much child care as the couple feels comfortable with should be out-sourced even at some expense, because this is an investment.  But there are real limits here, especially if the child is anything other than a perfect angel.  Worry & love can’t be outsourced, & they take time, attention, & energy.  Maybe universities should put more time on the tenure clock.

#2–I’d advise going to a trusted senior faculty member, although of course is he/she talks to the offender it may give away that the person has complained.  But that person (& I hope others) can at least partially protect the person when she comes up for promotion.

#3–not sure.  There often is an ombudsperson in the university, & that would be my first stop.  In addition, I’d talk to colleagues who I have reason to believe would share my views that we have to put a stop to this.

Interesting that we–or at least I–haven’t heard of harassment cases in Poli Sci recently, but does this mean that a) things have gotten better; b) I’m just out of the loop; or c) it’s been subtler & deeply hidden.

Another private comment: My only concern is that in the section on sexual harassment you strongly recommend reporting even more subtle cases, before you suggest consultation with a trusted source.  I’m a little less confident than you, perhaps, about how well these mechanisms work at every school.  Maybe others on this list can suggest an approach that recognizes the possibility of shortcomings in the system designed to address this problem while encouraging taking positive action.

Another comment: Regarding sexual harassment, maybe you could say something like, “If the sexual harassment or discrimination is not overt (as in, subtle comments that still have the effect of making you uncomfortable), see if you can consult with a trusted source.  In many cases reporting the incident officially will be good both for your sake and because it could be a part of an ongoing problem.  You should find out what arrangements your university has for doing this reporting completely privately.   Universities are now required by law to have such arrangements. [I’m pretty sure this is true for all universities but there may be exceptions], but they vary greatly from university to university. “Do others on this list have any suggestions for wording in this tricky matter?   I just wrote this out a couple of minutes ago – does it seem right?

Another reader commented on the above comment: I would add to/amend these comment by noting that, while universities are required to have reporting protocols, they can be different. I don’t know whether they are all required to have a way to report “completely privately,” or, more to the point, what, exactly, “completely privately” could mean. Ultimately, the person may have to make her/himself known… but there should be ways to encourage folks to report in whatever ways they can, given the varied institutional practices/rules.

Raising children while having a Career

I just had my first baby and am wondering if any of you older women, who have raised children while building successful careers, have any advice to give? Any hints on how you balanced it all?

Kristen Monroe: A supportive support system –husband, friends, parents — helps, also a willingness to spend most of your money on help. I was extremely fortunate. My mother met me at several professional meetings and hung out with the children while I went to meetings. We had a full time housekeeper and hired college girls to work as mother’s helper. (Sometimes they played with the children while I was in the home, working but in the background so I could exercise some supervision. Sometimes they wrapped Christmas or birthday presents, and ran errands for me, leaving me to play with the children. I effectively hired mother’s helpers not babysitters since I preferred to hang out with the kids instead of running errands or wrapping presents.) Lots of people love day care; it didn’t work for me. I’m also told daycare leads to a lot of colds, or other minor illnesses that move from one family member to another so we tried to have people in the home. A luxury, not everyone can afford, I realize.

David Easton taught me to work at home in the morning, where there would be no distractions from research. Boundary lines are important, to keep one job (motherhood, being a professor) from eating up everything else. A friend in computer science (first woman ever to get tenure in computer science at Harvard) says she never even checks emails on the weekends. This is designated her family time. She also alternates evenings so that Monday and Wednesday she has a free evening – work, hit the gym, visit with friends, see a movie — while her husband has quality time with the children; Tuesday and Thursday they shift. Weekends are family time. Elinor Ostrom suggested to always have things you want to do together to relax and keep the marriage going. She and her husband hiked and –I think — made furniture.

I found it really important to find friends who will come and bring pizza and hang out on the floor, playing with you and your child while they talk with you. I essentially quit entertaining, shifted to pot-lucks instead of dinner parties. Dinner parties always seemed a good idea when everything is going well two weeks before, which is when you invite someone but invariably some child got sick the night before and I was so tired I could barely talk, let alone cook. I have friends who somehow manage to do it all, and my hat’s off to them. One senior woman – now in her 90s and married to a former dean – told me she found the big family potlucks I hosted more fun, and was sorry she had always hustled your children off to bed for a dinner at 8 party with only adults. Who knows? But keeping friendships is important.

I found it was very important to remind myself that having children is a gift; it’s not something just to be handled. The same with our jobs. Most of us do them because we love the work. It’s important to keep this in focus. Too often I wasted emotional energy feeling guilty about not doing enough in one area or the other. This is truly stupid and I hope you all avoid making that mistake. It’s important to enjoy both the time doing the work AND the time just relaxing and enjoying the precious hours with your child or children. In fact, our children are not with us all that long, so it’s very important not to feel so pressured by career demands that we forget to enjoy them, and our lives with our friends and family. (I speak as a woman who just returned from the wedding of one of my sons.) Also, ask for help. A lot of us are willing to chip in and help out if you need it. Don’t be afraid to ask for support.

From Angela Lewis: I have found the best way to try to strike a good balance with career and family is to first understand you are not superwoman.  Ask for help.  Have a support system in place.  For me, the most important thing was becoming an 8-5 employee.  For most of us in the academy, we like the flexibility of going to work when we want to.  But, if you make a standard work schedule for yourself during the time the child is being cared for, you will be amazed at how much you can accomplish.  Try not to be burdened with work during family time.  Children grow up.  It’s understandable if you have a paper deadline or project that may need your attention after hours, but try to make sure you protect your family time.

It’s also important not to forget about self-care.  Don’t be so overwhelmed with the career and caring for your family that you are not taking care of yourself.  Make sure you go to the doctor. Schedule time out with friends who are not academics.  Have a spiritual life.  Take vacations.  You will find if you have an appropriate balance, you will be more successful as a mother and an academic.  This is a short answer to a complex problem, but I hope it has given you enough information to get started.  I am a single mom. A professor. And I had my child before tenure. It can be done. Angela Lewis

From Marie Provine: To the new mom:  We tend to think of this “balancing” in terms of the negatives – too little time for everything you did before, energy drain, etc.  But that new baby will insist on another framing that leaves room for the happy seductions of parenthood.  My sons were born while I was in graduate school, and in a time where reduced loads and parental leave were unknown and untried.  I muddled through, but even then the babies were a wonderful diversion and reminder of life’s deeper streams.

What is considered standard in your department and college or university?  If you feel that you can work within those parameters, then the issue becomes how to organize child care to protect your prime teaching and working hours.  Your teaching hours may be a given, but it’s important to think also about when you are most productive academically.  For me, it’s morning and late afternoon, for example.  Once you have that in mind, try to set up what works for you and remind yourself that this is not being “selfish.”  It’s doing what you need to be successful in the long process of building a career in academia.  Your family and your budget will adapt.  And the adaptation will change every year, or more often, as your baby develops new capacities and the child-care options change.  Marie Provine (ASU)

Comment. A man – from the period when one had what were considered “traditional” marriages during the 1950s — adds that, based on his experience and watching his younger colleagues over the years has led him to suggest the value of having well-understood rules about the division of labor re child rearing and household management. This involves repetitive behavior, which contributes to efficiency, and avoids day to day dithering about who should do what, which saves time.

Kristen adds: I just completed an intellectual autobiography with Kenneth Arrow (On Ethics and Economics: Conversations with Kenneth Arrow. Taylor and Francis 2016) and Arrow told me that even during the traditional 1950s, he often arranged to be home during the afternoons to help watch the children, so his wife could attend classes for an advanced degree and then practice as a psychotherapist. So the need to work full time doesn’t seem to have hindered at least one successful academic man – and the youngest Nobelist in Economics — in the 1950s!

From Michele L. Swers. Congratulations on the wonderful new addition to your family.  There are some tips that one can get through consultation but every situation and every baby is an individual and may not adapt the way we would like so flexibility and learning not to compare yourself or your child to others is key.  That said, finding a child care situation that works for you makes all the difference.  Depending on your budget and where you live there are a variety of options at a range of costs.  Family is always best if they are available and interested but as most of us academics do not have family in town there are a variety of options. If you know others who you trust that can recommend child care options you should consult them.  With my first child I put him in a daycare center followed by a nanny share and then his own nanny. I received a recommendation for the nanny to use from a colleague who had used her so I felt I could trust the source more.  There are services that vet nannies and au pair’s but it is always a concern.  Day care centers are regulated but don’t always give the level of personal attention you want and Kristen is correct that they will get sick more frequently.  Also day care centers generally work by establishing a structured routine so if your child is one that does not adapt well to a structured routine (my son would not nap) or has special needs then these providers likely won’t work for you. There are also in home providers which are less pricey than daycare and nannies and give you a smaller ratio of kids depending on the regulations of your state. However, these types of situations are largely unregulated and I would not use one unless I know someone who has used the person and was happy with them.  Once you have your day care settled be prepared for it to change multiple times before your child goes to preschool or kindergarten.  It is also worth looking into whether your university offers child care.  Often the wait lists are long and you need to get on early. At my university you needed to call as soon as you got the birth date if you wanted a chance to get a spot when the child was old enough to attend which was 18 months.

Kristen adds: Michele is correct and I second her good advice. Situations change. When our daughter was born we must have interviewed 50 people for a full time nanny position and found none of them to our liking. We then went to the mother’s helper option. We used UCI’s student employment center – most universities have something like this, I imagine – and found a fabulous pool of great undergraduate students who were willing to work in irregular 4 hour blocks. (We paid above the minimum wage, which meant we got great people.) We pieced together hours each term, depending on their class schedule and my teaching schedule. This meant we usually had no help during the break – when the girls were gone — but that was OK with me since I cherished the time with my daughter. (The boys were old enough they weren’t so keen on spending time with Mom anymore. L) It can be a bit hectic but the girls were fabulous with Chloe. I shifted to working at home so I could be back up and I did use the babysitters more as mother’s helper, as I suggested earlier, running errands for me, doing little tasks that were onerous – such as wrapping Christmas presents – and so on. But the young girls were fresh, close to Chloe in age and could enter into her little games. All of this meant I got time with my daughter and the students were fabulous. (Chloe got interested in languages and learned to count in Hindi, Chinese, and Korean in addition to the French, Spanish and Greek that her parents had taught her. She invented Basket language and Flower language and failed her first exam for admittance to a pre-school cause when they asked her to count she did it in Basket language.) So be flexible and go with what is available and best for your family situation.

How to survive Grad School

Dear Professor Monroe. I’m a new grad student (a woman). Do you have any useful tips on how to survive grad school? Sarah

Kristen Monroe. Actually, yes. I worked with a group of female grad students at UCI on this a couple of years ago. We got a little money from the dean and we met –we being any female grad students and any female faculty, in any department on campus – once a month to discuss and share ideas about the situation for female grad students. At the end of the year, I suggested the students write up their thoughts on this. So, with thanks to William Maurer, the Dean of the School of Social Sciences, and Carrie Reiling and Jennifer Jones who compiled the final document, this is the document. We encourage you to form your own gender group, with female faculty, and to enjoy the camaraderie and support of those who have gone before you or are in this with you now. I’d also suggest you join the WCPS at APSA or your regional meetings. There is tremendous support and friendship – and wisdom – there.

From the UCI Grad students: When entering graduate school, women can face a number of challenges that might not be apparent to men, or which men do not themselves confront. Many of the suggestions below can benefit grad students in general, both men and women, but they are particularly relevant for people in any number of underrepresented categories – women, LGBTQ, students of color, etc. The key is to recognize the strengths that you bring to your study, even if they are not traditionally valued by your discipline, and seek out avenues of support.

● Perfect is the enemy of the good. You must send in work, for course papers or for publication, even if you feel it is less than complete. Uncertainty and self-doubt are normal for everyone. Be confident in what you know. You’re here for a reason.
● Learn about the imposter syndrome HERE. Lots of great scholars still feel insufficient, so you are not alone.
● Women often have to walk a fine line between being too nice and sweet on one hand and being pushy or bitchy on the other. While this is unfortunate, and you are encouraged to be yourself, work on asserting yourself without being arrogant or a pushover.

Seek out a mentor
● This person does not necessarily have to be your advisor (and it’s sometimes best if it’s not). If your school does not have a mentor program, contact the APSA and enroll in their mentoring program.
● Even if you have a good relationship with your advisor, one person cannot be everything – find a junior faculty member, more advanced grad student, or peer. Seek these connections both within your department and outside it (whether at your university or another university).

● Joining women’s groups, both in the national discipline and on campus can be a means of formal support, a way to advance your own scholarship, and a sometimes friendlier place to interact in stressful times.
● Women’s caucuses give awards, have established mentoring programs, and are often sites where senior scholars are eager to mentor
● Seek out women as peers and mentors but also allied men. Lots of people are friendly and supportive to graduate students. Be polite and professional but also have confidence in yourself.

Reproductive/parenting/family issues
● There will be assumptions that you will or won’t have children. This scrutiny can feel relentless.
● What about reproductive timing? When should you have children? Answer: Whenever you want. Many academics find that grad school is flexible enough to have children, while others want to wait until they’re more established in their careers. Some have to consider age or partners – but you need to decide what is best for you and your family.
● Learn about the resources available to you as a grad student, TA, or graduate researcher. At some universities, unions have bargained for child care and time off benefits. Investigate state programs for low-income parents (which many grad students are).

● A lot of TAs want to care for and nurture their students, which can be a double-edged sword. You should spend NO MORE than 20 hours/week on all TA duties combined (or whatever your contract says). Don’t let your job as a TA consume all of your energy – you are a student too.
● Students will evaluate you on any number of characteristics having to do with your gender, including caring/nurturing, clothing, attractiveness, etc., and your perceived effectiveness will also depend on class size. Be attentive to the nuances but don’t let what you can’t change overtake your teaching or your scholarship.
● Female instructors can be treated by students as a therapist or a mother figure, especially if personal reasons are overwhelming the student’s studies. Be kind, but consider referring the troubled student to campus resources such as counseling services or the learning center. Not only is therapy not your job, but understand that you are not qualified to handle these situations.

Sexual harassment still happens
● Unfortunately. If it does, not only is it illegal in the workplace, but it is also a Title IX violation because it impedes your access to equal education. (Check out this PDF from the U.S. Department of Education: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/title-ix-rights-201104.pdf)
● Report it. All universities have procedures to deal with harassment, and it can be handled in a way to make you most comfortable, to protect your privacy, and deal with the problem.
● Even if sexual harassment or discrimination is not overt (as in, subtle comments that still have the effect of making you uncomfortable), please report it both for your sake and because can be a part of an ongoing problem.
● This is a big issue on college campuses now and you should consult female faculty and university counselors to get guidance and support.

Resources. Click to Learn More!

Do Babies Matter? Gender and Family in the Ivory Tower
Review of Book

UCI’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity

UCI’s Childbirth Accommodation and Child Care Reimbursement

UC Student Association’s annual Students of Color Conference (SOCC)

UC Office of the President diversity policies and goals

Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia
by Gabriella Gutierrez y Muhs

Gender Bias in Academe: An Annotated Bibliography of Important Recent Studies

Comments and additional feedback from friends and members of the Advisory Board.
X. (Name used if permission given.) Grad school can be both a nurturing space where academics build their networks and professional collaborations, but it can also be competitive – so be prepared for that.
The graduate school environment is oftentimes built to engage students in criticism of previous research and students’ work. Take the constructive criticism and use it to improve your analytical and reading/writing skills; let the rest go, and no need to be your own harsh critic.
Find a group of people (outside of more formal mentors and colleagues) who are friends, people going through the same or a similar process – 2-3 people you can complaint and vent to about your graduate school experiences, as well as just life (which marches on even when you are a grad student!).

Kristen Responds. I could not agree more. It is so important to have friends, and not just professional ones. Blowing off steam is a great luxury but do it with someone who will not repeat it. A large part of learning of becoming a professional is learning to take criticism. I run an Ethics workshop where the entire course is organized around the student doing one piece of work, and presenting that work each week as it progresses, asking for input and advice, and giving input and feedback to other students. It is so helpful to students to learn that not everything is a full-grown finished project. We all need feedback and help. Your peers are invaluable in this. The nework effect is often critical and I am so grateful to friends who so generously point out research I have missed, grants I might be able to apply for, fellowship opportunities. People like Jenny Mansbridge, Martha Ackelsberg, Jennifer Hochschild, and Rose McDermott – among so many others – have become legendary in supporting women, and in supporting any scholar. It’s a community and we all gain from each other’s growth. Young scholars should think about creating informal networks to present work and get feedback, and constructive criticism.

Wondering Woman: How to write a book and then get it published

First Advice Column for APSA. Wondering Woman. 

Dear Professor Monroe. Can you give me some suggestions on how to write a book and then get it published? Thanks, Sheila

Everyone will differ slightly on how best to write a book or professional paper so you should bear in mind that what follows are only my thoughts and may not work at all for you, either because you personally have a different style/approach or because your particular research project does not lend itself to the kind of work I do. (For example, an analysis of Plato’s Republic will require a different approach than will a mathematical model of the political system.)  What follows is what works well for me. My grad students tease me, saying that my mantra is “Focus” and they are correct. I always tell them to start with a short but focused introduction that essentially is an overview of the book. There are a few critical points that I think need to be included in the introduction, as in the book itself.

Read more

Welcome to the Wondering Woman

“Wondering Woman”, is an advice column on professional issues of concern to political scientists, especially women and other minorities, as they try to combine their career with a personal life.

The column grew out of the Ad Hoc Committee on Workable Solutions to Advancing Women in the Profession, established by APSA President Carole Pateman and continued by APSA President Jane Mansbridge, with support from the Women’s Caucus for Political Science (WCPS) and the Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession (CSWP).  The idea for the column was approved by the APSA Council when John Aldrich was APSA President. In consultation with an Advisory Board, I will serve for 3-5 years as the head of the column.

Any APSA member – regardless of gender – may write with a question or comment to KRMonroe@UCI.Edu or Kristen Monroe, Department of Political Science or the UCI Ethics Center, Social Science Plaza A, University of California Irvine, Irvine CA 92697. All questions will be treated confidentially and no names will be used unless explicitly requested. Letters will be shared (without names attached) with members of the Wondering Woman Advisory Board, who may give advice and/or publicly voice different views in response to letters.  We encourage readers to leave their own comments.

The Advisory Board is comprised of many past female presidents of the APSA, current officers of the WCPS, members of the relevant APSA Caucuses, and the Ad hoc Committee on Workable Solutions to Advancing Women in the Profession, plus several rotating members who are lawyers, current or former presidents of colleges/universities, or scholars focusing on issues relevant to women and other minorities. These rotating members include Judith Baer, Elizabeth Hoffman, Dale Rogers Marshall, Sara Mitchell, Valerie Martinez-Ebers, and Marie Provine. Here is a full list of Advisory Board members which may be updated time to time.

Much of the advice sought and given will probably be general, of interest – and of use – to all political scientists. The first column planned responds to a question on how best to publish a book. Other columns may be more controversial, both in the question or the advice given.  We are aware of the problems of “off the cuff” advice, as illustrated in this article Science, Not Sexism, from Higher Education, which resulted in the removal of this particular piece of advice from the “Science Careers” website of the  American Association for the Advancement of Science.

We hope to avoid such pitfalls by circulating columns to members of the Advisory Board in advance, to allow for discussion and for differing viewpoints to be reflected in the column via multiple answers to a question or via comments that respond to other comments. Other early columns will respond to questions by women of color and LGBT women about how to navigate the many subtle and not so subtle issues faced in graduate school and academia more generally, as well as by so-called “free-way flyers,” those academics without security of employment who lecture at multiple universities, who are unsure how to achieve better pay and working conditions.

Still other questions come from a past president of APSA whose student — a nursing mother — was told she could not have time between meetings during her job interview to express milk. The male adviser was angry and upset, but not sure how best to respond to this situation.

We will have one column each quarter and have several columns already in preparation. These planned columns focus on a wide range of issues of interest to many political scientists — male and female — and will begin by asking how to balance career and family, how to address sexual harassment, and special issues of concern to women of color and to LGBT or transgendered scholars among others. We invite APSA members to send us both their new questions or their comments on earlier columns. Feel free to raise questions on topics we have not yet discussed or to provide further nuance to both our questions and answers. We depend on you to tell us what topics are on your mind.

We thank the APSA for its support of this column and encourage APSA members to send questions to the column for consideration.

Warm wishes, Kristen Monroe

Advisory Board for APSA Advice Column: Wondering Woman.

  • Female presidents of the APSA (Jennifer Hochschild, Harvard, Jane Mansbridge, Harvard, Carole Pateman, UCLA, Dianne Pinderhughes, Notre Dame, Margaret Levi, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford and U of Washington, and Theda Skocpol, Harvard);
  • Officers of the Women’s Caucus for Political Science (Laurel Weldon, Purdue, Nadia Brown,Purdue, Michelle Wade, and Meredith-Joy Petersheim, Keuka College, Buffalo);
  • Members of the Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession (Stefanie Chambers, Trinity College, Leela Fernandes, University of Michigan, Nadia Brown, Purdue University, Frances Rosenbluth, Yale University, Denise Walsh, University of Virginia, Amy Atchison, Valparaiso University);
  • Members of the Ad hoc Committee on Workable Solutions to Advancing women in the Profession (Kristen Monroe, University of California, Irvine, Martha Ackelsberg, Smith College, Angela Lewis, University of Alabama, Birmingham, Michele Swers, Georgetown University);
  • Heads of the APSA’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Political Science Caucus (Valerie Lehr,St. Lawrence University, the Latino Caucus (Jessica Lavariega-Monforti, The University of Texas-Pan American, and the Asian Pacific American Caucus (Sangay Mishra, Drew University).
  • Rotating members of the Advisory Board also include members who are lawyers, current or former presidents of colleges or universities, or scholars focusing on issues relevant to women and other minorities. These include Judith Baer (Texas A and M), Jennifer Diascro (University of California in DC), Elizabeth Hoffman (Iowa State), Dale Rogers Marshall, Valerie Martinez-Ebers (University of North Texas, Sara Mitchell (U of Iowa), and Marie Provine (ASU).