Conferences · You Know You're a Political Scientist When...

You Know You’re a Political Scientist When… (#APSA2017 edition)

  1. You are praying there isn’t an earthquake/tornado/fire/hurricane/swarm of locusts in San Francisco next weekend, because everyone knows APSA is cursed.
  2. You are still frantically writing the second paper you’re presenting (why did you commit to 2 papers?!) and are still laughing at APSA for demanding you upload it last month.
  3. You bemoan, for the 57th time, why the f*#& we have a major conference on Labor Day weekend right after the semester has started. (Thank God we know how to petition to change that shit.)
  4. You are wondering if you can squeeze in a trip up to Napa while you’re there, and how you could word it that so your institution will pay for the rental car.
  5. You are looking forward to seeing your friends- the ones that could afford the million dollars it takes to conference in San Francisco, that is.

party time


MPSA Presentations: Finding Women Who Know Stuff!

The Americanist Bitch gets to go to MPSA this year (IR Bitch Note: I spent all my travel funds on ISA.)  and instead of finishing up the paper I’m supposed to be presenting, I’ve been combing the program for panels I want to go to.  I feel like I’m being really ambitious, but I’d like to attend at least TWO panels I’m not presenting on.  So, to make life easier for all of you who are similarly looking for interesting panels, I’ve created a handy list of a few panels, by subfield, where you can find Women Who Know Stuff!

Comparative Politics

Parties, Politics, and Institutions in Latin America

Interested in Latin America, and want to see a handful of women (that’s right! more than one!) presenting research on parties and bureaucracy? Check out this panel on Saturday at 9:45.

Political Violence

Gender, Discourse, and Radicalization: The Case of ISIS Jihadi Brides

Wow, talk about a fascinating (and maybe depressing?) topic, this roundtable is made up exclusively of women who definitely know stuff and political violence and gender.  Thursday at 11:30.

International Political Economy

Causes and Consequences of International Cooperation

Interested in trade agreements or the WTO? Check out this presentation on WTO negotiations. One woman surrounded by men. We’ve all been the Token Woman, so show up to support her on Thursday at 9:45.

Political Theory

Okay, to be honest, I’m not interested in theory. But Women Do Know Stuff about it, so if theory is your thing, find a theory panel that’s not a manel.


Networks Theory and Applications

Women Who Methods are some of our role models, because it’s such a male-dominated subfield. Despite what Barbie told us as kids, Math is NOT hard for girls, at least not any harder than it is for boys, especially if there are great female role models in the field. Find one at this panel on Saturday at 8am (yikes) which features another woman surrounded by men.

Gender and Politics

Gender and the U.S. Supreme Court

As an Americanist, this one is right up my alley, and the papers are all similar thematically, which should make it a very interesting panel. Check out presentations by more than one woman, and then watch them discussed by more than one woman on Friday at 9:45.

Families, Politics, and Policymaking

The Bitches are both moms. This panel takes a look at some family situations and how that translates into politics and policy. Lots of great women presenting their research on Thursday at 11:30.

Teaching and Learning

Alternative Teaching Methods

I thought that zombies were on their way out, but apparently not, because there’s a really fun paper title in this panel. Teaching & Learning isn’t taken particularly seriously as a research agenda in political science, which is a shame because we’re uniquely situation to use our training as researchers to do great research on teaching.  Check out Zombies and more at this panel Saturday at 9:45.

This list is certainly not exhaustive. There are countless Women Who Know Stuff presenting at MPSA this year. Have a female scholar to recommend? Or want to promote yourself? Let us know, we want to promote you, too!

Conferences · Hilarious But True

The 7 Presentations You See at MPSA

The Americanist Bitch will be hitting up MPSA in less than one month! How could I forget- the conference emails me a NYE-like countdown every few days or so. So, in honor of this… achievement?…. we present: the 7 presentations you will definitely see at MPSA, rated by Chicago landmark.

  1. The one by the terrified grad student. Their longest section is the lit review, because that’s the only thing they’re confident they know how to do at this point in their career. They’re so cute, in their ill-fitting professional clothes and attempted networking at the Palmer House bar.
    Rating: Sears/Willis Tower, because everyone loves them but can’t quite remember their name
  2. The one by the new parent who is only in town for 24 hours. They’re visibly exhausted, they barely squeaked out a paper, but they needed to get back on the horse so their department doesn’t think they are deadwood in the making. MPSA was the “next” (read: least selective) conference.
    Rating: O’Hare airport, because that’s where they spent the most time on this trip
  3. The one by the person who has no data. They set you up with a nice theory, and maybe even cool methodology, but 10 minutes into their presentation they say, “I haven’t collected the data yet, but…” and you discover you’ve been hoodwinked. Hey, while you’re here, can you help them figure out how to collect that data?
    Rating: Giordano’s Pizza, which is supposed to be legit deep dish pizza but nobody from Chicago would be caught dead there (IR Bitch Note: Go to Connie’s instead)
  4. The one by the person who clearly wrote their paper on the plane to Chicago. Could also be a new parent (see above), but is usually given by a senior scholar who doesn’t really give a shit about presenting and is only there to meet up with his friends from grad school.
    Rating: The Berghoff, obv
  5. The one with 3 co-authors, but only 1 even has a clue what the paper is actually about. Most likely to be found in the methodology section.
    Rating: City Hall, because riding on your friend’s coattails to get a line on the CV is just like Rahm Emanuel riding Obama to the mayor’s office
  6. The one that has been presented at 3 other conferences. What school has this much travel budget these days? Koch University?
    Rating: Alinea, the snobby restaurant that nobody can get in because it’s “the best restaurant in the world.” Like everyone ate at all the restaurants and compared them. And who has time for 100 courses, anyway?
  7. The one by a theorist who has decided that they have something uniquely relevant to say about Trump’s America. No, Trump’s election isn’t the “most interesting thing to happen in American politics in 150 years.” No, you can’t just up and try and make yourself marketable. Yes, we see through your weak attempt to have more than 3 people at your panel.
    Rating: Cloud Gate (the Bean), because who knows what that thing is for
Conferences · Hilarious But True

The Definitive #ISA2017 Drinking Game

We consider ourselves extremely good at drinking and at inventing drinking games.  And when Peter Henne (@pehenne) asked the Twitterverse for help with an ISA drinking game, the IR Bitch knew it was her time to shine.

First of all, ISA looks amazing this year, especially in the wake of the Executive Order on Immigration.  If it weren’t happening in my own country, I would find Trump’s regime fascinating in terms of its impact on the international system.  I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of great panels on Friday and Saturday (the only two days I get to be there), and I definitely hope to make part of the Academic Freedom and Professional Organizations panel before I have to head to the airport, because it is such an important discussion right now.

But, back to the drinking.  And get ready to get hammered. And please add to the list as you find necessary!

The Definitive International Studies Association Drinking Game

Drink every time:

Presentation that starts with explaining the theories of international relations we have all already heard 5,781 times.

Trump administration mentioned.


Putin mentioned.

Good-natured teasing at American Politics scholars’ expense. (sorry)


Brexit mentioned.

Someone tweets asking for the Wi-Fi password.

“Bowling Green Massacre” and/or “Sweden Incident”


Take a shot:

Conference shade.

Audience question-asker cites himself.


Putin and Trump administration mentioned in same sentence.

Economist pretending to be a political scientist.


Take seven shots:

If you find yourself saying Feminist Theory and/or Gender Studies isn’t important enough to have its own set of panels. Because you DESERVE that alcohol poisoning, sir.

Conferences · Hilarious But True

The 8th Guy Who Hits On You At Conferences

The Poli Sci Bitches absolutely LOVED going to New Orleans for SPSA.  The chance to see some fascinating panels on women’s issues, to overhear young male political scientists making fun of those panels but to see our friends on Twitter be so vocally against this kind of behavior, to realize that almost NONE of the panels were male-only.  We were both hit on and flirted with at various times throughout our weekend, but never in a way that made either of us uncomfortable or ventured outside of professionalism.  It was a great conference.

But I realized we left out one major player in our Seven Guys Who Hit On You post, and this one might be the most fun (and most common) of all.  It’s:

The Non-Political Scientist

Oh man, I had forgotten all about this guy!  Picture this: it’s Saturday night at the conference, you’re a little burned out from all the work talk, and you just want to go sit down at the bar for a quick glass of wine before your next dinner with colleagues.  The man next to you is by himself, too, and he turns to you and says, “So, what brings you to New Orleans?”

This by itself is, of course, not considered “getting hit on,” but stick with me.

Now, you know what comes next.

You: I’m here for a conference.

Him: What kind of business are you in?

You: I’m a political scientist.

Him: You’re a…. a what?

You: I’m a political scientist.

Him: Oh wow! So, DonaldTrumpBenghaziPutinHackingBernieSandersEmails SinglePayerHealthcareRossPerotNPRElection?

You: Um, sure!

People outside of Political Science really have no idea what it is we do, and usually, I am not in much of a mood to explain it to them. But the guy sitting next to me at the bar was pleasant, handsome, and seemed genuinely interested in what I do, so I explained (as best I can for an IR person) why Donald Trump happened before we moved onto more typical flirtatious conversation.

The Non-Political Scientist is always a fun time, whether he’s the guy next to you at the bar, your Uber driver who wants to explain how corrupt the Clintons are, or the friend-of-a-friend who is desperate for you to reassure him that we aren’t headed for World War 3 (umm, we’re not. right?).

SPSA was a wonderful conference this year, and the Poli Sci Bitches are thankful to each and every man and woman at the conference who believes that Women Also Know Stuff and helped make it such a great experience. See you all next time!

-Candy Ann Richards

Conferences · Hilarious But True · Nature of Academia

Clapbacks: Put Those Conference Shade-Throwing F@#%ers in Their Place!

We recently ran an excellent piece (if we do say so ourselves) about how to throw shade at a Political Science conference, but perhaps what anxious assistant professors like us REALLY need is a list of rebuttals to that shade.  When someone gives you a criticism, particularly an unfounded one, you need to be prepared. So, take a look at our handy guide below, and if you couple these Clapbacks with an air of completely and total mastery of your work, you’re ready to go.

Here are some excellent responses to Political Science Shade:

“If you had read the paper…”

This is always a go-to, especially for audience questions. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t actually in there, just imply that it is.

“You have a valid point, but it distracts from the broader question here, which is _____.”

Lull them into a false sense of security, and then distract.

“I’m sorry, I’m not sure if you’ve done work in this area, but this is really the gold standard for this research.”

Burn, baby, burn.

“I think the model level bivariate formulaic structural equation prevents the errors from deriving the midichlorians.”

The Nonsense Fancy-Sounding Words strategy can also work in reverse.


And finally, the best clapback of all.  This one’s important guys, because PLEASE, PLEASE use it. 

“You know, this is really piggybacking off of what (literally any female scholar in the room who has made a comment but was ignored) said a moment ago, and I’d like to get back to her point.”

Please!  Help us!  So many times, comments made by women in panel discussions are dismissed and then asked later by a man.  Whether it’s because we word our commentary in a different “womanly” way that somehow isn’t understood by male political scientists, or it’s just because some scholars routinely ignore good contributions from good female scholars, PLEASE be our allies.

This is exactly what this article about women in the White House was talking about. If we get shut down, ignored, or dismissed too many times, we feel like our contributions aren’t valid.

Don’t get me wrong. If a female scholar throws shade, you feel free to clap right back!  But if someone in your panel is ignoring the comments or contributions of a woman in the panel, bring her back into the conversation.  Mention her by name, if you can. Find out her name. Validate her contribution to the discussion.

And then get right on back to the shade and clapbacks. Don’t forget I know how to insult people in German.

Conferences · Hilarious But True · Nature of Academia

Throwing Shade: Your Guide to Conference Commentary

We’re just a few days away from SPSA, and many of you are probably preparing to attend a bunch of great panels.  Panels can be great places to get feedback on your work, inform your research agenda, and to throw out some Sick Burns.*

But maybe you’re new to the discipline, maybe you’re tired of saying the same old thing (“This isn’t generalizable”), or maybe you would just like to criticize a paper without paying attention to it. Whatever your situation, the Poli Sci Bitches are here to help with some Ready-Made Shade, free for use at SPSA or any other political science conference.

Get some cool water ready for THESE burns:

“That isn’t how I would define neoliberal institutionalism.”

You can fill in the blank with any definition in the presenter’s theoretical framework. Nitpicking the framework is a great way to throw them off their game.

“Frankly, it’s clear you should’ve used a negative binomial to model this.”

It doesn’t even matter if it’s true; if you say it with enough authority, you’ll sound like you know what you’re talking about.

“You know, the (insert unrelated subfield) literature has a lot to say about this. Have you read ANY of it?”

Again, doesn’t matter if it’s true, but it works wonders, because the presenter definitely hasn’t read any of it.

“Do you think if you’d compiled the strategic outcome equilibrium, you might’ve seen an increase in your convergence toward the deviation of the retrograde?”

This strategy is just nonsense fancy-sounding words.  Sometimes I feel like the discussants of my papers are making extensive use of this type of shade.

“So, where are you in graduate school?”

The sickest burn of all.  Save this one for when you’re feeling really feisty.

*The Poli Sci Bitches do NOT support using Sick Burns on undergrad/graduate students or anxious untenured professors (like us).  I mean, we don’t really support Sick Burns at all, but these are good, right?