IR and diversity: 17 ways to find more diverse experts

Leah de Haan

This image of actor Mr T is taken from the Allwhitepanels Tumblr page.

As a young woman working in the discipline of International Relations, I don’t think it is unfair to say that the world can seem a little bleak. Do you remember the all-male list of scholars who have had the greatest impact on the field of international relations over the past 20 years? Or the all-male reading lists supposedly representative of an entire discussion in International Relations (find a great alternative syllabus of female authors here)? More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that so many people tune out as soon as feminism, gender, diversity, inclusion, sexuality, race (the list goes on) are discussed.

Since I have joined International Affairs however, I have noticed the beginnings of a momentum shift. In 2017, women were represented in 44% of the articles (by either authoring or co-authoring an article) and it is the policy of the journal that every article considered has at least one female peer-reviewer. This is of course a drop in the ocean but I do believe it is a great place to start our journey towards diversity and inclusion of all forms. After all we still regrettably live in a world where if you are not an older white man — see the list of people with the supposed greatest impact on IR — you are less likely to be cited, less likely to be published, less likely to be trusted as a source of information and less likely to be taught.

Changing who is considered an expert is fortunately on the agenda of some really great organizations — and they are keen to share their networks. I am hoping that, by sharing the resources that I use and know about, these changes will be made faster. Of course, if I have missed any (which I am sure I have) please add them to this post in the comments field below, as we would love to grow our database of these types of resources.

1. Listing female experts

There are a number of websites which provide lists of female experts.

Women Also Know Stuff

Women Also Know Stuff has to be one of the most famous websites attempting to change who is seen as an expert and provides a very clear retort to people who say that while they did indeed look for a female expert, there were none. Their database consists of 1342 female experts (and counting) on a huge range of subjects within politics and international relations — including some of our authors.

Mulheres Também Sabem

The Portuguese Women Also Know Stuff provides another directory of very capable women. These translations are of course really important because language and geographical barriers are also part of the reason why some women are not seen as experts. Mulheres Também Sabem is actually a bit broader than its English equivalent as it includes Masters’ students and experts on other social sciences.

Academic Women in Public Administration

This is another great organization which conducts research, hosts events and maintains a fantastic directory on academic women in public administration. I particularly like this website as it connects academia and policy-making and its list thus includes women who are experts on both.

The Brussels Binder

The Brussels Binder is focused on policy debates and tries to ensure that policy-making and policy evaluation is more conscious of diversity and gender. Due to this they are largely focused on think-tanks (Chatham House has already signed up to this initiative) and provide a directory for events, research and media regarding policy-making. They also have a great toolkit for organizing gender-sensitive events and how to respond to resistance.

Women’s Media Centre’s She Source

Next to being a gender-sensitive, female-focused media centre, Women’s Media Centre also has a great directory for journalists, bookers and producers on basically any topic you can imagine — recent additions include experts on Trump’s budget plan, immigration and the Black Panther film.

2. Supporting women in the media

Foreign Policy Interrupted

FPI is also trying to tackle the gender representation problem, but in a different way. Their specific focus is the gender disparity in the media’s discussions of foreign policy — whether it be opinion pieces, quotes on front covers of newspapers or television appearances. In order to do this, FPI tries to give women the tools and training to be heard in an environment that does not try to or particularly want to hear them.

The OpEd Project

Similarly, The OpEd Project attempts to find what they call under-represented experts. They then train these experts and connect them both to a network of mentors and to a whole variety of media networks to help diversify these platforms’ voices.

3. Panel shaming

There are also a number of websites which focus on panel diversity.

The Allwhitepanel and Allmalepanel Tumblr pages

These pages are two of my favourites — they shame organizations who have hosted and individuals who have participated in all-white or all-male panels. While this might not be addressing the root causes quite so clearly, it does mean everyone can join in — you simply take a picture. One thing that is a little disappointing is that the Tumblr page which highlights all-male panels is discussed and visited significantly more.

#ManPanels

#ManPanels attempts to make discussions on global policy-making on peace and security more inclusive — by providing a list of very capable women and a list of men who have committed not to speak on all-male panels.

The Pledge

This is another website where men vow not to be part of any all-male panels and provides advice on how to respond when this attitude is criticized. My personal favourite: ‘What if a woman drops out at very short notice? I get it: shit happens. You could cover yourself by planning to have two women on the panel (gosh!).’

GenderAvenger

GenderAvenger, apart from having a great name, allows you to add statistics and information to your photo of all-male panels. They have also teamed up with arementalkingtoomuch.com for the new #whotalks project which allows you to monitor panel inclusivity by time spoken.

4. Ethnic Diversity

Writers of Color

Writers of Color attempts to address the whiteness of experts in the media and in academia and has created a directory to counter this. In their own words: ‘Don’t you hate when editors use “I don’t know enough writers of color” as an excuse to back up the homogeneity of their publications? We do too. Here’s a fix’.

Black British Academics

This website, similarly, attempts to tackle racial inequality, however it is focused on higher education and academia. They have a multitude of projects and attempt to address racial inequality, eurocentrism and whiteness of education in many different ways — I think the different networking opportunities are really valuable and their book on narratives of surviving in British academia is a great resource.

POC Also Know Stuff

Similar to Women Also Know Stuff and Writers of Color, POC Also Know Stuff also provides a directory to counter the media’s whiteness — sadly it does not appear to be publicly available yet but it is a great place to sign up and I look forward to accessing it.

CiteBlackWomen

The Cite Black Women Twitter feed is another one of my favourites. It encourages everyone to contribute and learn from each other, for example in the #CiteBlackWomen Syllabus 2018 Hive Mind people post the different relevant work they are reading. It is a very organic and collaborative counter-narrative to the white syllabus that tends to be taught.

5. LGBT Scholar Network

This final one is a little shorter (and almost more of a request). I wish there was more available regarding LGBTIQ+ scholars and maybe there is, but I simply cannot find it. Despite this, the LGBT Scholar Network Twitter feed is a great place to network and find interesting work by LGBT authors.


Leah de Haan is the Editorial Assistant for International Affairs at Chatham House. She recently completed an MSc in International Relations at the London School of Economics.

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