Task Force on Systemic Inequality in the Discipline

Announcements and Updates


January 28, 2022

The Full Task Force Report is released via the APSA member newsletter. Visit the Task Force Microsite to read the report and review resources. APSA would like to acknowledge the support of the ASAE Research Foundation, Truist Foundation (formerly SunTrust Foundation), Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, LLP, and Atlanta CVB.

December 22, 2021 

The Task Force Executive Summary and Recommendations are released to the membership and to the public. Read more!

September 2021

The task force working groups completed its report and presented its finding to the APSA Council during the Fall 2021 Council Meeting at the 2021 Annual Meeting. The Task Force also held a virtual roundtable to share it findings and recommendations with the 2021 meeting attendees.

April 2021 

The task force provides an update to the APSA Council during its Spring Council Meeting: On February 19, 2021, Dr. Paula D. McClain, immediate past president, held a Zoom meeting of the APSA Task Force on Systemic Inequality. The agenda for the meeting included: Status updates from each working group chair, a discussion of the Task Force data needs, status of working group research projects and survey plans, and a discussion of available remaining budget. Kimberly Mealy, APSA, provided an update on the successful grant that APSA received from the ASAE Research Foundation’s Innovation Grant in the amount of $30,000. 

December 2020 

The APSA Presidential Task Force on Addressing Systemic Inequality in the Discipline, created by immediate past-president, Dr. Paula D. McClain, has been awarded a $30,000 grant from the ASAE Research Foundation’s Innovation Grants Program (IGP) to support its research project entitled “Addressing Issues and Mechanisms of Systemic Inequality in the Political Science Discipline”. The task force seeks to develop recommendations, strategies and best practices to identify and remove institutional barriers that lead to inequities in the profession and to examine the experiences of, and provide support to, underrepresented and marginalized political scientists.  

June 2020

The Task Force co-chairs held a planning meeting in May 2020. Below is a list of the members of the each of the four Task Force Working Groups. The full task force report will be published in early 2022. A summary of the recommendations is available in the Task Force Executive Summary document. For more information, contact [email protected]


Task Force Executive Summary and Recommendations

Working Group Descriptions and Rosters

Citation Working Group

John Garcia, University of Michigan/ICPSR, Chair There is an emerging literature on the citation patterns for women in political science, especially in international relations (Dion, Sumner and Mitchell 2018; Teele and Thelen 2017; Maliniak, Powers and Walter 2013; Zigerell 2015), but the same research does not exist for scholars of color and LGBT scholars in the discipline. Given the quick adoption of the biomedical science approach of using H indices as a measure of influence and merit of an individual’s scholarship in tenure and promotion cases, the careers of women of all races and scholars of color can be severely affected. As Ray (2018) contends inequality is reproduced by citation patterns and is legitimized in the uses of these supposed meritorious metrics.

Working Group Members

  • John A. Garcia, ICPSR, Chair
  • Eric Juenke (Michigan State)
  • Gabe Sanchez (UNM)
  • Andrea Benjamin (Oklahoma)
  • Karam Dana (U Washington-Bothel)
  • Ashley Jardina (Duke University)
  • Camille Burge (Villanova University)
  • John Ishiyama (Univ. of North Texas)
  • Chris Parker (Univ. Washington)
  • Natalie Masuoka (UCLA)
  • Carrie Liu Carrier (TCU)

Climate Working Group

Carol Mershon, University of Virginia, Chair This working group addresses the climate for underrepresented groups in, and all members of, the profession. The climate primarily at the APSA's Annual Meetings and in other APSA official venues and outlets (e.g., as manifested in the policies, processes, and outcomes of APSA's flagship journals). Yet the group also attends to climate in colleagues’ home institutions, where we build and live out our professional lives. This working group will address the following research questions. How and how much do microaggression, bullying, exclusion, and disproportionate service burdens delay the progress of women, LGBTQ, and minority faculty in the career and at times lead to exit from academe? What does research identify as best practices for building welcoming, inclusive, and equitable environments, and how can APSA support best practices?

Working Group Members

  • Carol A. Mershon, University of Virginia, Chair
  • Brooke Ackerly, Vanderbilt University
  • Sekou Franklin, Tennessee State University
  • Cyril Ghosh, Wagner College
  • Melissa Michelson, Menlo College
  • Evelyn Simien, University of Connecticut
  • Sophia Jordán Wallace, University of Washington
  • Hongying Wang, University of Waterloo
  • Betina Cutaia Wilkinson, Wake Forest University

Graduate Student Working Group

Niambi Carter, Howard University, Chair This working group seeks to understand whether identity causes students to be marginalized in their graduate departments and whether this influences their decisions to choose an academic or non-academic career. Our task is to elucidate the myriad issues that emerge for graduate students and how these issues influence the choices of underrepresented graduate students to engage the discipline. Toward this end we will address issues of departmental inclusion, disciplinary representation, and professional outcomes. Issues of departmental inclusion include but are not limited to the following: course offerings and syllabi; completion of departmental requirements (i.e. comprehensive exams and dissertation proposals/defenses) mentoring by faculty; ability to compose committees; distribution of research opportunities; and funding for conference participation. Similarly, disciplinary representation captures whether young scholars are participating in annual or regional meetings; their experiences of the climate at these meetings; their inclusion in associational decision-making. Lastly, for those scholars who choose to complete their graduate programs we want to know whether they choose an academic career path or non-academic career path.

Working Group Members

  • Niambi Carter, Howard University, Chair
  • Fernando Tormes Aponte, UMBC
  • Zein Murib, Fordham University
  • Najja Baptist, University of Arkansas, at Fayetteville
  • Kesicia Dickson, Michigan State University
  • Sara Sadhwani, California Lutheran
  • Alan Le, University of Minnesota Jair Moreira, UIUC

Tenure and Promotion Standards: Burdens of Faculty of Color Working Group

Cathy J. Cohen, University of Chicago, Chair The journey to tenure is filled with challenges and deadlines. However, once tenure is accomplished it is a significant life milestone. And while the next structured evaluation of one’s work usually comes when being reviewed for promotion to full professor, we know that much can happen to an associate tenured professor to make the move from associate to full difficult. This committee will explore two important moments in a faculty member’s career, their promotion to associate with tenure and their promotion to full professor. We are especially interested in how those two points of evaluation possibly differ for scholars differently or marginalized positioned. Specifically, we the committee will examine what impact race and/or gender and/or sexuality and/or type of institution has on one’s ability to move “smoothly” through the ranks from assistant to associate and once again to full professor. Moreover, we will examine how differentially positioned faculty, based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and institutiontype, perceive and experience structural differences in the standards for evaluation at these two critical junctures.  

Working Group Members

  • Cathy Cohen, University of Chicago, Chair
  • Regina Freer, Occidental College
  • Christina Greer, Fordham University
  • Taeku Lee, University of California, Berkley
  • Matthew Nelsen (Research Lead), University of Chicago
  • Ricardo Ramirez, University of Notre Dame
  • Christina Rivers, DePaul University, Chicago
  • Todd Shaw, University of South Carolina
  • Dara Strolovitch, Yale University
  • Janelle Wong, University of Maryland