Gender Study 2016

In 2015 the Executive Committee established a ‘Gender Task Force’ to look at the issue of gender equality within the ECPR and the wider political science community in Europe. Headed by Executive Committee member Birgit Sauer, the group identified the first task as reviewing levels of representation and participation of women at ECPR events and within its activities and governance structure.

A first stage was to conduct a study drawing on data readily available at the Central Services. A framework was drafted and data collated on the following areas:

  1. Governance and leadership of the organisation – Executive Committee, Official Representatives, Editors of publications, Standing Group Convenors
  2. Marking achievement – awarding of prizes
  3. Shaping events – participation as Workshop Directors and Panel Chairs
  4. Plenary sessions at events – scholars invited to deliver welcome addresses, plenary lectures and panellists on roundtables
  5. Participation at events – as paper presenters
  6. Participation in publishing – as submitting authors
  7. General ECPR engagement – MyECPR account holders and social media followers

At the Prague General Conference Birgit presented the findings of the study at the Roundtable on ‘Gender in Political Science Research: Achievements and Outlook’. The study was subsequently updated in early 2017 with data on publishing output which was not available for Prague and is now available to read.

The main theme running through the study was that participation of women at the highest levels of ECPR governance and strategic direction of activities is incredibly low; while participation at graduate and early career researcher level is almost equal. Two assumptions could be drawn from this, either that we are seeing more women coming into the discipline now than 20-30 years ago, which should eventually lead to stronger representation of women at the higher levels as their careers progress. The second assumption might be that these numbers of women within the discipline will shrink as this cohort moves through the career stages as they drop out due to family-related issues, resulting in similar numbers at the top of the profession as we do now. Without similar participation data spanning back to the 1980s and 1990s it is not possible to run any comparisons, we can and will however continue to track participation over time to get more robust data. Nevertheless, research shows that quasi-natural developments do not lead to more gender equality in organisations.

The study was presented formally to the Executive Committee at its meeting in April 2017 and it was agreed that the Task Force should now review the conclusions and make recommendations for strategies and policies which might improve the participation and representation of women in areas of weakness throughout the organisation. These recommendations will be published after the Executive Committee have discussed them at their meeting in Oslo. In the meantime an annual review of data will now take place to keep track of trends and the results and impact of any strategies or initiatives introduced; the 2017 update will be published in March 2018. 


"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Benjamin Franklin

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