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

2 thoughts on “Welcome to the Wondering Woman

  • October 1, 2016 at 4:55 pm
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    Just found this. So glad your are doing it.

  • March 4, 2017 at 3:39 am
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