Shana Tabak’s announcement of the Pioneers of Women in the Law reminds us of the need to make sure that women are written into both the history and scholarship of the international law.
A year ago I wrote about a paper in circulation that documented a gender citation gap. The study has been published, and it is generating a debate. Recently, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article noting the cultural tradition of women feeling uncomfortable citing their own work. The article reminds us of the need to cite our own work, and to pay attention to gender balance in our own citation practices.
In political science, the focus is also moving to Wikipedia. We have long known that Wikipedia, like many encyclopedias, tends to write out the contributions of women. Indeed the format of an internet based encyclopedia may even exacerbate the problem, since 90 percent of Wikipedia’s contributors are men.
I plan to study the representation of women political scientists on Wikipedia, comparing it to their representation in institutions like editorial boards and learned societies. My interest in this topic was piqued when I found a page that lists American Political scientists with Wikipedia pages. Former presidents of APSA, winners of the most prestigious Woodrow Wilson Book Prize, and many other notable female scholars were not on the list.
Take a look at the Wikipedia list of international law scholars. Maybe I missed some names, but I found 8 females on this list.
In addition to studying the female pioneers of international law, we need to counter the practices which continue to marginalize female voices. The question is not ‘if’ women’s contributions are written out. The real question is what are we going to do about this? The solution in a number of fields is for women scholars to organize and write more entries. On the eve of ASILs conference (which I will unfortunately miss), it seems timely to put this issue on the agenda of IntLawGrrls.