Women in Think Tanks Reading List

20 February 2016

In reference to the series from this blog on Women in Think Tanks: Thinking about gender and equal opportunity in think tanks, we present this Reading List, which presents an annotated review of what’s available on the web on the subject.

The Women in Think Tanks series

Women in Think Tanks: Thinking about gender and equal opportunity in think tanks.

Introductory post. Meghan Froehner, editor of the series, presents the authors of the series and presents the themes that will be discussed. She also expands on how her own experience in working for different think tanks has been marked by this issue.

Perspectives from a Former Think Tank Director on the Gender Dynamics of Knowledge Organisations

Second post from the series. Here, Priyanthi Fernando, international development consultant and former Executive Director of the Centre for Poverty Analysis in Sri Lanka, discusses how the issue of women’s participation in think tanks leads to rethinking the nature of think tanks as organisations, taking into account how power structures operate within them, and how this sheds light on the gender relationships that occur inside them. She further discusses problems arising from this categorisation based on her own personal experience working and leading a Sri Lankan think tank for ten years.

More Women in Government, More Women in Think Tanks

Third post of our series on Women in Think Tanks. Ruth Levine discusses the value of matching diversity in public policy with think tanks and scholars and of having women engaged in policy research in contexts where women are increasingly serving as elected representatives and appointed officials. She touches on the benefits of increased representation for think tanks in having their voices heard and suggests strategies for fostering women’s participation in think tanks.

Experiences from two DC-based Thinktankers: Women-led Organisations and the Critical Importance of Recognising Care Work

Fourth post from our series on women in think tanks. It provides a perspective from two DC-based thinktankers. The editor relays feedback from interviews with Claudia Williams, of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, and Tiffany Boiman, of the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor. The post discusses their experiences in women-led organisations and the importance of recognising workers’ care responsibility through organisational policies on family leave and work life balance.

Women in Think Tanks in Peru: Conversations with Cynthia Sanborn and María Balarín  

The fifth post. Again, it draws on interview feedback from two women thinktankers, this time working in Peru. Cynthia Sanborn contributes her perspective as the Director of CIUP, emphasising organisational assessments of diversity and the crucial role of providing spaces for women researchers to maintain the same level of visibility as male researchers, as well as the possible role of donors in supporting organizations gender equity efforts. Maria Balarín shares her perspective from her work at GRADE as well as her research findings from a recent publication on women in the social sciences, emphasising the importance of recognising and addressing subtle institutionalised gender dynamics prevalent across professional fields.

Women in think tank series: lessons so far

This post reflects on some of the lessons learned so far and outlines future actions that On Think Tanks will promote to pursue this agenda in the future.

Redefining the ‘ideal worker’: Rachel Moss offers a unique perspective on gender performance in the workplace.

Are we allowed to show emotions in the workplace? How is this different for women and men? This is a repost from Rachel Moss’ article on gender and emotionality in the workplace, based on her own experience as a scholar and on her studies in performance of masculinity in medieval romance.

Consolidating themes and identifying strategies for change: next steps in supporting women in think tanks

Series editor Meghan Froehner attempts to answer key questions about the importance of promoting women in think tanks, outlines a set of recommendations for think tanks, and a possible agenda for future action.

Strategies to increase women in higher education leadership in public universities un Uganda

The effort to address women’s continuous under-representation in leadership positions in universities and research is a matter of principles, but also a way to address large losses for higher education institutions, as women’s abilities are being under-used. This blog post summarises the findings of a study presenting strategies to increase women’s participation in positions of leadership in public universities in Uganda.

Women in Think Tanks: bad news/good news

Women’s Advancement in the Think Tank Sector

The Think Tank Diversity Consortium (TTDC) is composed of 10 leading DC think tanks. It aims to provide transparent information and encourage a stronger focus on diversity within the think tank community. This article reviews the findings of the TTDC in regards to gender equality within think tanks.

On Think Tanks: Female think tank leaders around the world. July 2012

In 2012, On Think Tanks presented a review of the situation of women in think tanks. It’s an introduction to the topic. It states that, even if a large number of think tanks have an important presence of women within their organisation, few have women in leadership positions. It concludes that limited access to higher levels of education seems to be the main driver behind women (and men) reaching top positions. Gender differences are relevant in that there is still higher pressure on women to dedicate more of their life to family, even within academic circles.

Huffington Post: Women Replace Men As Leaders Of Progressive Think Tanks. May 2013

A positive review on how women have increasingly achieved leadership roles in progressive think tanks in the US. The article includes commentary from influential women leaders of DC think tanks, discussing unique perspectives women leaders might bring to an organisation; for example, by serving as role models or revamping work-family policies within their organisations. The article concludes by noting that it is harder to find female leaders in conservative think tanks.

Foreign Policy. It’s a Man’s World: Inside the gender breakdowns of Washington’s premier think tanks. July 2011

Foreign Policy magazine lists the gender-work situation within ten Washington-based think tanks. Among the organisations analysed only two have equal representation of men and women (coincidentally, the two are the ones with the smallest number of employees). Women are also over-represented in support staff and do not comprise more than a third of policy staff in any of the organisations considered.

Council on foreign relations: Ask the Experts: Where Are the Women in Foreign Policy? March 2012

Micah Zenko asked several women of different backgrounds and varying levels of experience about their perspectives on women being significantly underrepresented in foreign policy and national security positions in government, academia, and think tanks. Their answers draw on their personal and professional experience. Topics discussed include women’s disproportionate care burden and differences in areas of interest between men and women (for example, women tend to emphasize and specialise in global development and men in security issues). Several respondents point to mentoring as a key practice for improving women’s representation in the field.

Thinking About the Women in Think Tanks

This post by the Roosevelt Institute states that, although women are taking on more leadership roles in think tank management, men still dominate the thinking roles, making up the majority of scholars and “Senior Fellows” who influence policy. The post attempts to answer the following question: why does equal education attainment fail to translate into equal representation in policy research institutions? It begins by stating how,

What are gendered organisations?

‘Gendered Jobs’ and ‘Gendered Workers’: Barriers to Gender Equality in Gendered Organizations. 2002

This paper by Lindsay Payne, MA Candidate at the University of Guelph, examines the characteristics of organisations as gendered sites, offering insight into what gendered organisations are. It seeks to make a profound analysis of how organisations have been built upon gendered views of men and women, in order to show how this is has been a critical point in explaining the ineffectiveness of gender-neutral policies by feminist liberals to achieve gender equality in the workplace.

Hierarchies, Jobs, Bodies: A Theory of Gendered Organizations. June 1990

This paper by Joan Acker from the University of Oregon and the now closed Arbetslivscentrum, in Stockholm, that argues that organizational structure is never gender neutral, and that assumptions about gender underlie documents such as contracts, which are used to construct and portray of the image of the universal worker as a masculine figure.

Gendered Engagement in International Research Networks: The Implications of Family Obligations. 2011

Paper by Amy Lubitow, Ph.D. candidate, at Northeastern University. There are many barriers to women’s advancement in the academic career ladder. This paper focuses on how international collaboration and the requirements for mobility in the academic and scientific work environment of scientific affects gender relations in science and engineering. Its findings suggest that while women and parents are invested in pursuing international research projects, familial obligations pose difficulties that require strategic planning in order to be successful.

Gendered institutional research cultures in science: the post-doc
transition for women scientists (through paywall). July 2013

This study by Susan Schick Case and Bonnie Ann Richley from the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University examines perceptions of post-doctoral women bench scientists working across fourteen major US research universities, and how both individual and institutional experiences influenced their desired futures. Findings reveal three distinct career paths (research, teaching, and industry). This study provides insight into individual career decision processes involving as to how gender is experienced in male-centric cultures, how experiences of barriers are reframed, and how obstacles influence choices.

Think tanks and gendered relationships

Washington monthly: Where Are the Women Wonks? July/August 2012

This article seeks to give insight into why, although some of the most powerful people in policy today are women, male “brand-name” policy experts tend to outnumber them. As possible explanations, it states the first as generational: think tanks consist of experienced researchers and the lack of women reflects the lack of opportunities available to women decades ago. Also, the shortage reflects a lack of women in politics in general and the fact women would tend to self-select into less prominent fields. Lastly, the article touches on the continuing role of sexism and discrimination in shaping who rises to the top.

Jumpstart: Don’t limit HER possibilities! Encourage HER in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

This infographic was the winner of the 2014-2015 Competition on data visualisation held by On Think Tanks. It compiles photography, charts and data from Georgia on girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. The data shows that girls have undifferentiated scores from boys in subjects such as maths, biology, chemistry, physics and geography, but tend to be less self-confident and would be less motivated by teachers and parents to excel on these same subjects. This suggests that decisions regarding career fields are complex and shaped by societal norms about gender from a very young age.

Women in leadership roles

Pew Research Center: Chapter 1: Women in Leadership. January 2015

This article addresses the subject of women being underrepresented in the US Congress and in the country’s corporate elite. The article presents statistics and trends on women as political and corporate leaders, as well as in part of the workforce. It shows a disparity between the number of women in leadership roles (20% of all Senators and House Representatives in Congress are women; 5.4% CEOs of Fortune 1000 companies are women) with the number of women in the workforce (47%, only three percent less than the number of men).

Centre for American Progress. Fact Sheet: The Women’s Leadership Gap. March 2014

The fact sheet provides useful statistics to show disparities between men and women in the labour market in the US. Although women make up more than half the of US population, hold two thirds of all undergraduate and master’s degrees, and represent 59% of the college-educated workforce (entry level), they lag substantially behind men when it comes to their representation in leadership positions, although this situation has slowly been changing since the 1990s. The fact sheet also presents statistics on women of colour and women in politics and provides a comparison of the US with other countries.

Centre for American Progress: Infographic: To Promote Women’s Leadership, We Need Public Policy. December 2014

This infographic compares the work situation between women in the highest quintile of earners with those in the lowest quintile to show the different challenges they face to achieve positions of leadership.

Carol J. De Vita Katie L. Roeger: Measuring Racial-Ethnic: Diversity in the Baltimore–Washington region’s non-profit sector. The Urban Institute. March 2010

This report by the Urban Institute Racial-Ethnic diversity in the Baltimore–Washington region’s non-profit sector shows that exactly half of executive directors in non-profits are women, but only 22% are persons of colour. Within this last figure, men and women would be also represented equal, so there doesn’t appear to be any intersectional barrier to women of colour in this particular local context, but just toward people of colour in general.

Judith Warner: For Women to Lead, They Have to Stay in the Game. Center for American Progress. December 2014

This report by the Centre for American Progress addresses the need for public policy in order to close the women’s leadership gap. For women to rise within organisations, it argues, public policy must ensure that women are given equal chances to remain in the labour force. Work-family policies are a crucial piece of this: workers covered by child care subsidies, or maternity and paternity paid leave, tend to remain in the workforce for more time than those who are not. The report suggest that public policy also plays an important part in influencing societal norms, citing how Sweden’s use-it-or-lose-it paternity leave policies has led to men taking greater responsibility in caring for children in their families. This is significant because societal norms also play a major role in limiting or facilitating women’s rise to leadership roles.

Michelle Angier and Beth Axelrod: Realizing the power of talented women. September 2014

This article discusses the findings of a survey of 1700 top US leaders, made following eBay Inc’s successful initiative to increase the number and proportion of senior-leadership roles held by women at the firm. The survey found that although men and women view gender diversity as an important business goal, men and women experience the company in very different ways. It suggests that the results from the survey ran ahead of the cultural reality, meaning people tended to express more progressive opinions that didn’t match with their everyday practice.The paper summarises its findings saying that ‘commitment, measurement, and culture outweigh a business case and HR policies’.

Women in research

Gender Barriers Faced by African Women in Graduate Programmes and Research in the Social Sciences. February, 2013

This paper was examines the barriers faced by African female graduate teaching staff and researchers. The study sought to analyse the level of female involvement in social science research and graduate level education in Africa, as well as the range and nature of challenges faced by women researchers, teaching staff and graduate students. The study also aimed to understand the strategies and practices that research organisations and universities use to address gender barriers and the extent to which they have been successful.

Action, not words, will empower Africa’s women scientists. January 2014

This article explores the reasons for Africa’s gender imbalance in science. It states that social barriers, such as the need for adequate childcare and a flexible work/life balance, and the limited opportunities and incentives for women who return to work after a career break, are not enough to understand the problem. To fully grasp it, one must take into account cultural factors as well as the fact time and resources would be over-focused on creating an ongoing dialogue and information gathering which end up as substitute to taking effective actions that address the issue.

The African Research Academies for Women

The African Research Academies for Women is an organisation that seeks to encourage and inspire STEM education among African women and bridge the gap between male and female African scientists as the continent marches forward in achieving a “developed continent” status. Its goal is to establish a number of Research Academies for women across the African continent. At the moment, it works it operates in Ghana and Nigeria.

British council: Defined by absence, women and research in South Asia. January 2015

This report examines the barriers that women researchers face in South Asia and recommends actions to address them. Based on a series of interviews conducted with global experts in 2014, it shows that in South Asia, cultural restrictions and a lack of career opportunities play a major role in contributing to the gradual drop off of women researchers after PhD level. The report suggests that this gender imbalance is not being taken seriously enough at the highest levels or by the women themselves and identifies potential solutions to tackle this issue and readdress the gender balance in the area of research.

The Mystery Of The Missing Women Scientists. November 2012

This article addresses the lack of women taking up careers in science. It reviews a report by the consulting group “Women in Global Science and Technology” in the European Union, the United States, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, South Korea, and India, presenting statistics showing the low percentages of women taking up STEM careers in each country. It also disproves traditional explanations to this situation, such as that intrinsic aptitude for STEM careers are hiding on the Y chromosome. It ends explaining how social prejudices and stereotypes would be in the base of explanation for the gender gap in science.

Women in the workforce

Shelley J. Correll: Minimizing the Motherhood Penalty. In: Gender and Work, Challenging Conventional Wisdom. Harvard Business School. 2013

This article presents the case that mothers are disadvantaged in the workplace, earning less than other men and childless women. It states that there is a bias against hiring mothers, who face greater difficulties in performance and advancement in the workplace. To overcome these disadvantages, the author presents four initiatives, 1) mothers’ own efforts; 2) organizational policies to reduce unconscious bias; 3) “family-friendly” legal mandates; and 4) “family-friendly” organizational policies

Harvard Business Review: Women in the Workplace: A Research Roundup. September 2013

This blog post sums up a variety of research by business, psychology, and sociology scholars that offer a window into women’s collective experiences in the workplace. It presents different variables and statistics that serve as proof of a disadvantageous situation for women in general in the workplace.

Dalia Ben-Galim and Amna Silim. Can Public Policy Break the Glass Ceiling?: Lessons from Abroad. Centre for American Progress.. December 2014

This article reviews experiences from European countries that sought to remedy gender inequality primarily through public policy. It aims to analyse and understand the benefits and limitations of such policies. It presents an analysis on the importance of family-friendly policy, such as affordable childcare, parental leave and flexible work. It then goes on to examine the case of Norway’s gender quotas on the boards of privately owned corporations.

Sarah Jane Glynn, Milia Fisher, and Emily Baxter. 7 Actions that Could Shrink the Gender Wage Gap. Centre for American Progress. September 2014

This report from the Centre for American Progress lists recommendations to close the wage gap. They are strategies to keeping women in the workforce so they can excel and advance at similar rates to men. Particularly relevant are investing in affordable, high-quality child care and early childhood education, passing paid sick days legislation, and passing a national paid family and medical leave insurance program.

Workplaces that work: Creating a Workplace Culture that Attracts, Retains and Promotes Women. 2003

This article presents a business case with evidence of the bottom-line benefits of workplace cultures that attract women. It also provides examples of success stories from across the country and tips for how employers can effectively promote change. In addition, it includes A Framework for Assessing Your Workplace – with 20 questions that will assist employers in identifying opportunities for meaningful change by reviewing current practices and results in their workplaces.

Support, Mentorship, and Networking for Women

Are Women’s Mentoring Programs Redundant? May 2012

This article counterarguments that women’ leadership programs are a solution for reducing the gender gap in business, because of the 70-20-10 rule, where 70% of a manager’s learning and development comes from “on-the-job” assignments, 20% from mentoring and 10% from the classroom. Lack of opportunities to play key roles in companies would be the reason women are missing the opportunity for “on-the-job” learning. However, the author also questions the 20% from the cited rule, especially if mentoring comes from fellow women.

Can Women Succeed Without A Mentor? April 2014

This article presents the difficulty women have when trying to find a mentor in the business sector. One possible explanation for this would be the comparatively low numbers of female managers to females in entry levels. The fact women in managerial roles would still have harder care burden at home, and therefore, less time, would also help explain this situation.

It’s Time to Close the Workplace Gender Gap. September 2014

50 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act in the US, progress against gender bias in the business sector has been slow. Women fill 53% of entry-level positions in the biggest U.S. companies, but only 28% of vice president and senior managerial positions, and even lower percentage in corporate board membership. This article discusses the importance of mentorship for women to successfully rise in their workplaces and the role men can play in reducing this persistent gender gap.

Mentoring Women in Organizations: Practice in Search of Theory. December 2005

Does mentoring really increase an individual’s or an organisation’s capacity to develop? Is mentoring automatically helpful to women? This research argues that deficiencies in the literature keep us from informing and improving the practice of mentorship, particularly for women. In juxtaposing what we know about mentoring women in the work-place with what we do not know, this article suggests the theoretical implications of mentoring and the related areas of inquiry that we should explore.