PS: Political Science & Politics

The Profession

Women Don't Ask? Women Don't Say No? Bargaining and Service in the Political Science Profession

Sara McLaughlin Mitchella1 and Vicki L. Heslia2

a1 University of Iowa

a2 University of Iowa


This article examines the dual problems of “women don't ask” and “women don't say no” in the academic profession. First, we consider whether female faculty bargain more or less frequently than male faculty about such resources as salary, research support, clerical support, moving expenses, and spousal accommodation. Analyzing a 2009 APSA survey, we find that women are more likely to ask for resources than men when considering most categories of bargaining issues. This finding goes against conventional wisdom in the literature on gender and bargaining that suggests that women are less likely to bargain than men. Second, we seek to understand if women are reluctant to say no when asked to provide service at the department, college, university, or disciplinary levels. We find that women are asked to provide more service and that they agree to serve more frequently than men. We also find that the service women provide is more typically “token” service, as women are less likely to be asked by their colleagues to serve as department chair, to chair committees, or to lead academic programs. The implications of these results for the leaky pipeline in the academic profession are discussed.