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Gender and bias in the international relations curriculum: insights from reading lists

Phull, Kiran ORCID: 0000-0002-1815-2518, Ciflikli, Gokhan and Meibauer, Gustav (2018) Gender and bias in the international relations curriculum: insights from reading lists. European Journal of International Relations. ISSN 1354-0661

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1354066118791690


Following growing academic interest and activism targeting gender bias in university curricula, we present the first analysis of female exclusion in a complete International Relations curriculum, across degree levels and disciplinary subfields. Previous empirical research on gender bias in the teaching materials of International Relations has been limited in scope, that is, restricted to PhD curricula, non-random sampling, small sample sizes or predominately US-focused. By contrast, this study uses an original data set of 43 recent syllabi comprising the entire International Relations curriculum at the London School of Economics to investigate the gender gap in the discipline’s teaching materials. We find evidence of bias that reproduces patterns of female exclusion: 79.2% of texts on reading lists are authored exclusively by men, reflecting the representation of women neither in the professional discipline nor in the published discipline. We find that level of study, subfield and the gender and seniority of the course convener matter. First, female author inclusion improves as the level of study progresses from undergraduate to PhD. This suggests the rigid persistence of a ‘traditional International Relations canon’ at the earliest disciplinary stage. Second, the International Organisations/Law subfield is more gender-inclusive than Security or Regional Studies, while contributions from Gender/Feminist Studies are dominated by female authorship. These patterns are suggestive of gender stereotyping within subfields. Third, female-authored readings are assigned less frequently by male and/or more senior course conveners. Tackling gender bias in the taught discipline must therefore involve a careful consideration of the linkages between knowledge production and dissemination, institutional hiring and promotion, and pedagogical practices.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 The Authors
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > J General legislative and executive papers
J Political Science > JZ International relations
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2361 Curriculum
L Education > LD Individual institutions (United States)
Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2018 13:32
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2024 03:00

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