For scholars, citations in publications – having their work referenced by others in academic studies – play an important role in advancing the discipline and in hiring and promotions. UCI political science assistant professor Heidi Hardt says that, despite the presence of more women in higher education, recent studies have found that female-authored works are cited significantly less frequently than male-authored works. Hardt thinks that one of the factors affecting this gender gap is the underrepresentation of female-authored scholarship in graduate training.

“What graduate students are required to read shapes their understanding of who are the leading scholars and what counts as quality scholarship,” she says.

This month, she received a $52,278 grant from the National Science Foundation to take a closer look at graduate training in political science. Working together with Amy Erica Smith, assistant professor of political science at Iowa State University, the researchers are collecting and analyzing syllabi and comprehensive exam reading lists from political science doctoral programs to better understand gender representation in graduate education. They will also be creating a publicly available database with the information that they find so that others may see, at a glance, the works that are assigned to doctoral students across the discipline’s sub-fields. Their goal is to increase public awareness of gender representation – with supported resources - in graduate education so that scholars are more likely to consider diversity when creating their syllabi.

“As female-authored scholarship becomes mainstreamed, more women may pursue careers as scholars and more scholars may cite their work,” Hardt says. The project supports the National Science Foundation’s mission to cultivate a more inclusive science and engineering workforce.

Funding for the study will run through December 2017.


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