The Profession

Getting on the Board: The Presence of Women in Political Science Journal Editorial Positions

Mary Stegmaiera1, Barbara Palmera2 and Laura van Assendelfta3

a1 University of Missouri

a2 Baldwin-Wallace College

a3 Mary Baldwin College


Although the overall representation of women in the field of political science has increased gradually over the last several decades, most gains are being achieved at junior levels. When considering the status of women in the profession, it is instructive to incorporate information on the presence of women in editorial positions at top-ranked political science journals. Our 2010 snapshot of women editors in the top 50 journals in the field finds that on average, women are reasonably well represented in editorial positions in proportion to the ranks they hold in the profession overall and at PhD-granting institutions; however, substantial variation exists across journals. Our discussion of the role-model effect and the gatekeeping power of editors suggests that greater inclusion of women and others who bring different perspectives to research could result in a more vibrant range of research topics and methodological approaches published in a journal.

(Online publication October 18 2011)

Mary Stegmaier is a teaching assistant professor at the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri. Her research focuses on the impact of economic conditions on voting behavior and election outcomes in the United States and abroad. Among other courses, she teaches classes on the status of women in politics and the workforce. She can be reached at

Barbara Palmer is an associate professor and legal studies coordinator at Baldwin-Wallace College. In addition to an interest in the status of women in the profession, her current research explores congressional elections and the success of women candidates, gerrymandering and redistricting, and the history of third parties in the United States. With her co-author, Dennis Simon, she received the Marian Irish Award for Best Paper on Women & Politics presented at the 2010 Southern Political Science Association Annual Meeting. She serves on the board of Running Start, a nonprofit organization that encourages and trains high school girls to run for political office. She can be reached at

Laura van Assendelft is a professor of political science at Mary Baldwin College. Her research interests include state and local politics and women and politics. She recently co-authored Women, Politics, and American Society, Fifth Edition. She has also served on the APSA Committee on the Status of Women and as a past chair of the SPSA Committee on the Status of Women. She can be reached at


Note: An earlier version of this article was presented at the Southern Political Science Association Meeting, New Orleans, January 2011, as part of the roundtable “Getting on a Journal Editorial Board.” This paper benefitted greatly from the audience questions and the insights provided by the journal editors on the panel: Wendy Gunther-Canada, Jan Leighley, Bill Mishler, and Carol Weissert. Special thanks to Ayn Wisler and Eva-Marie Etzel for their assistance in compiling the editorial board documentation and coding the members. The authors also wish to thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable suggestions.