The Status of Women in Australian Political Science

32 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2012 Last revised: 30 Jul 2012

See all articles by Mhairi Cowden

Mhairi Cowden

Australian National University

Date Written: 2012


This report provides a summary of the discussions, presentations and recommendations arising from the workshop, ‘Women’s Advancement in Australian Political Science’. The workshop was prompted by the continuing underrepresentation of women in the discipline of Australian political science and brought together women working in the discipline from undergraduate to professorial level. The workshop discussion identified three issue areas that help explain the continued underrepresentation of women within Australian political science, despite the high number of female PhD candidates. These areas are: the leaky pipeline, the normative political scientist and the chilly climate.

In addressing these problems this report puts forward detailed recommendations divided between recommendations for the Australian Political Studies Association (APSA) and recommendations for departments and the discipline as a whole. Finally the conclusion notes that there are clear reasons for seriously addressing these concerns: first, it is important as a matter of fairness to individual women themselves. Second, it is important also for pragmatic reasons. This report concludes that it is although some factors contributing to the underrepresentation of women in political science throughout Australia are easier to address than others, change is possible.

Keywords: Women, Political Science, Discipline, Underrepresentation

Suggested Citation

Cowden, Mhairi, The Status of Women in Australian Political Science (2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Mhairi Cowden (Contact Author)

Australian National University ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601

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