I had a revelation at the start of this semester.
As I thought back on the courses I have taken during my time as a government major at Georgetown University, I realized that I have only ever been taught politics by old, white men.
I mean that with all due respect. Every one of my professors has challenged me, inspired me and provided me an outlet to channel my political nerdiness, and for that I am eternally grateful. Still, the homogeneity of my instructors is troubling.
The government department is not the only one that suffers from this diversity problem. Nearly all of my professors fall into these same demographics. Yet considering the evolving nature of political science and the fact that many of my peers plan to enter the public sector after graduation, the lack of diversity in our corps of government professors is a cause for concern.
According to its website, Georgetown’s government department currently has 71 regular and visiting faculty members. Only 19 of them — 27 percent — are women. Nationally, as of 2015, women held 24 percent full university professor positions across all departments, according to the American Council on Education.
Along similar lines, only 19.6 percent of the 115th United States Congress is female. While Georgetown is about seven points ahead of Capitol Hill, both institutions are a far cry from the fifty-percent threshold of equality.
I did, however, find a promising statistic. There are 78 members in Georgetown’s current class of government Ph.D. candidates, and 33 of them are women. This number rounds out to about 42 percent. What do people with doctorates in political science often do? They teach.
As fate would have it, two respected professors within the American government sub-department are retiring at the end of this semester — and their replacements have yet to be selected. I wholeheartedly encourage Georgetown’s government department to hire two female professors in their places.
Moreover, I hope the department adopts a long-term hiring initiative in which diversity of all forms is a primary objective. Of course, new faculty members should be dignified scholars and passionate teachers to ensure that Georgetown remains a top-ranked school for political science — but there is more at stake here than just a rating by U.S. News and World Report.
Georgetown is creating the next generation of political actors and leaders. It is cliche and trite, but it is true.
We as government majors are entering the political workforce with the least productive, most partisan Congress in history. Refugee crises of incomprehensible scale continue to ravage the most volatile regions of the world. If our liberal arts degrees have taught us anything, it is how to think — we are trained to be problem-solvers, but our success depends on a diverse and holistic set of skills and ideas.
As soon-to-be public servants, we will soon be asked to solve complicated issues — issues that have yet to be adequately addressed by our current leaders. Our generation must bridge the gap between the problems we currently face and achievable solutions.
As such, we must be able to approach an issue from several points of view to come up with satisfying solutions. In order to do this, we need instructors who represent more than just one block of society — particularly when it comes to gender.
Could more female professors really make us better equipped to tackle political challenges?
The successes of female politicians like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) indicate so. Women are often more efficient legislators in terms of passing bills and allocating funds. A 2011 study from the American Journal of Political Science looking at the decades between 1984 and 2004 showed that in comparison to their male counterparts, congresswomen both won greater funding for their districts and sponsored and co-sponsored more bills. Ultimately, there is something distinct in how women approach politics.
Georgetown should hire the best possible replacements to teach us political science. But more importantly, Georgetown should hire professors who can offer us different insights, share with us different experiences and present us with different challenges than we have ever faced before. The surest way to do this is to hire a more diverse group of professors, particularly on the basis of gender. To be best prepared for careers in public service, we need more women at the front of our classrooms in order for students.
Taylor Harding is a senior in the College. Contributing a Verse appears online every other Monday.