Departmental Politics · Hilarious But True · Nature of Academia · You Know You're a Political Scientist When...

If Job Talks Were Honest…

During the Skype Interview…

Interviewer: So, tell us why you applied for this job.

Candidate: LOL, are you kidding? I applied for every single job on the market right now. Even ones I’m not remotely qualified for.  You’re my third Skype interview this month. I will literally take anything at this point.

On-Campus Introductions…

Faculty Member: Do you have any questions for me?

Candidate: I went online and found your name and one research project you’ve worked on. I don’t care about you at all, but please tell me about that project so I can act interested and seem prepared.

At Interview…

Search Committee Chair: How do you feel about moving to this crappy city?

Candidate: Well, I would never move here in a million years, but tenure track jobs are impossible to find, so I’m going to use this as a stepping stone.

*interviewers nod and take notes*

Candidate: Also, I got divorced and want to get as far away from my ex as possible.

*audible impressed sounds from room*

During Job Talk…

Faculty Member: Tell us more about this project.

Candidate: It’s actually a failed chapter of my dissertation. The topic sounds sexy, but I will never revisit it once I have a job.

At Dinner…

Search Committee Member: Would you like red or white?

Candidate: Anything that can get me absurdly drunk, so that I can complain about my current department and regret everything at 4am.

*wine glasses clinking*

During Last Meeting…

Search Committee Chair: What’s your perspective on diversity, and how will you contribute to our mission of inclusion?

Candidate: I am a woman/minority/LGBTQ/not-old-white-man.

Search Committee: You’re hired!

Candidate: Excellent. I’ve just used this to negotiate a retention offer at my current institution. Thanks for the help!

Hilarious But True · Nature of Academia

7 Things I’m Going to Accomplish This Summer

Summer is almost upon us, with most of our fellow political scientists either in the process of giving finals, grading finals, or submitting final grades.  I can see the Promised Land. We’re almost to summer, guys.

So, here are the

7 Things I’m Going to Accomplish This Summer:

  1. Finish my APSA paper.  Okay, okay.  START my APSA paper.
  2. Get an article out for review.  I’m like thisclose to finishing this article up.  Just a few more tables and I’m good to go.
  3. Start a new article.  I’ve had ideas cooking all semester, and I haven’t had a chance to actually get any of them on paper.
  4. Work on that new course prep.  I’m finally getting to teach the course I’ve been begging to teach for years this fall. Which means I need to actually write it.
  5. Revise curriculum requirements.  The committee that I shouldn’t have volunteered for has been slacking. Summer will be the time to catch up.
  6. Read more political science.  Pretty sure I haven’t picked up a journal since my second baby was born.
  7. Get that July conference presentation ready.  I forgot I submitted to that conference. Probably need to figure out what I’m going to say.


hahahaha guys. I’m totally kidding.  Let me write the real list:

Thing I’m Going to Accomplish This Summer:

Hilarious But True · Nature of Academia

The 5 Types of Couples in Political Science

At first, I thought it was weird how many political scientists are married to each other.  I mean, do they actually talk about political science at home? How horrible is THAT?  I’ll leave my political science at the office, thank you very much.

As I’ve been in the discipline for a while, I’ve seen my share of political science couples, and in traditional Poli Sci Bitches format, I’m presenting you a list of the 5 Types of Couples in Political Science:

  1. The Famous Power Couple.  These are political scientists who probably met in grad school, and have been together ever since.  They both have extensive CVs and awesome books. Maybe a few of them are co-authored with each other, but their individual contributions stand alone. Everyone knows who they are, and if they’re on the job market, universities go out of their way to make sure they both get full time faculty positions.  Celebrity Couple Equivalent: Beyonce & Jay Z. Even Obama wants to hang out with them.
  2. The Imbalance of Power Couple.  So, one of them is a star with a CV that goes on for days, and book deals in the works.  A rising star in the discipline, maybe. On some editorial boards and making a name for him/herself.  But the political science spouse? Not so much.  Maybe some good teaching evaluations, but not many publications.  The spouse gets hired too, of course, but no one in the department is very happy about it.  Celebrity Couple Equivalent: Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe. She didn’t even remember him in her Oscars acceptance speech.
  3. The Spouse Who Gets Hired As Staff.  One political scientist, and then another political scientist who somehow gets hired to do advising or run the Model U.N. program or something.  Weird, right?  It’s great for the department because building inroads in administration can be helpful. Also, getting gossip from the Other Side is nice. Everyone likes the Staff Spouse because staff make our lives easier.  Celebrity Couple Equivalent: Chris Pratt and Anna Faris. We love them, and the fact that he’s more famous than she is doesn’t bother anyone.
  4. The Couple With A Guy Who Likes Students. A Lot. So gross, but sadly too common.  In its “best” form, this political scientist collects pretty young female grad students to “mentor” but doesn’t cross the line.  At worst, the guy cheats on his wife with undergrads.  Yes, I’m calling it a guy, because it almost always is, but women who cheat on their husbands with students are also equally gross, for the record.  Unfortunately, the guy has tenure and the nature of academia means that running him out is an uphill battle.  Celebrity Couple Equivalent: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. Don’t sleep with the nanny, Ben.
  5. The Non-Academic Spouse Couple.  This person married smart and doesn’t have to talk about political science at home.  The spouse probably has a way cooler job than political science (professional chef! movie critic! hacker!) but is usually ignored at political science events anyway.  Celebrity Couple Equivalent: George and Amal Clooney.  Remember when all anyone cared about was her baby bump at her U.N. hearing?



Hilarious But True · You Know You're a Political Scientist When...

You Know You’re a Political Scientist When… (MPSA Edition)

  1. You always forget how pretty the ceilings are in the Palmer House, but you NEVER forget how slow the elevators are.
  2. The discussions on Poli Sci Rumors about the best hookers in Chicago no longer shock or surprise you.
  3. Your entire trip to Chicago is filled with back-to-back cocktail hours with grad school friends, co-authors, former coworkers, current coworkers, and other “networking” opportunities.   “Dry Second Half of April” is the Political Scientist version of “Dry January.”
  4. More than half of your events in #3 involve a woman and a man having drinks unsupervised. Mike Pence would not approve.
  5. And you’re officially a political scientist when you’ve graduated from starstruck grad student to confident scholar at the bar. Now you’re the one the grad students ask for career advice (while hitting on you).
Departmental Politics · Hilarious But True · Tenure

Best Strategies for Earning Tenure (by Hogwarts House)

We’ve mentioned that we are untenured women (who are also bitches), which means we spend a good deal of time ruminating on the best strategies for making sure we get tenure when the time comes.  We’ve seen too many of our colleagues (many women, but of course, men too!) be denied tenure. Sometimes the reasons seem relatively clear-cut:  at the R1 university, three publications in six years won’t cut it. At the SLAC, failure to demonstrate enough service via committee participation or undergraduate research.  All the usual suspects.

We’ve also seen some sort of arbitrary reasons for tenure denial.  Crazy deans on power trips.  “Too many publications” (I didn’t know that was real).  Departments that don’t consider certain subfields to be worthwhile (I don’t even mean just gender stuff, either. Try being a Ukrainian elections person, or in some places, a political theorist).  Then the truly whacko reasons, like “took time off to have a baby” or “didn’t like his wife, who teaches in the German department.”

But we must all play to our strengths, and the tenure process is long and difficult.  And, because we’re not just Bitches but also Extremely Nerdy Bitches, we’ve provided some strategies for your success*, based on your Hogwarts House.


There are people who might say that Ravenclaws are most well suited to academia, and those people might actually be onto something.  If you’re a Ravenclaw, you’ve got a brilliant take on your topic, and your work is novel and insightful.  Even if you’ve chosen an obscure subfield, your groundbreaking methods and theory transcend the substantive choice.  Publish a lot. Publish really good stuff.  Publish in great journals, but publish in mediocre ones too, because even your mediocre work is more well written and better political science than everyone else’s best.  Get a bunch of grants, give a TON of invited lectures, maybe start a web series about your little corner of political science.  Then, just watch the votes roll in.


So, your work isn’t always brilliant. You won’t be willing any Nobel prizes any time soon.  But you’re competent, and best of all, you’ve got a knack for strategy.  Pick the field not that interests you the most, but that is the most up-and-coming and sexiest.  Write about experiments or social media or something.  Make friends with the Dean and with the people in your department who “matter.”  Your Slytherin skills should help you identify which those are.  Have a backup plan ready to go: maybe a cushy administrative job in reserve.  Spend your time claiming just the right amount of credit (not TOO much) for being on just the right university committees (but not ALL of them).  Then, if all else fails, Imperius the committee into voting for you.


Never forget that Cedric Diggory was a Hufflepuff, and he… well, he died at the end of the TriWizard Tournament, but let’s not talk about that right now.  If you’re a Hufflepuff, do what you do best. Be nice. Teach well. Get amazing evaluations, advise grad students and make sure they put out their best work. Keep your colleagues happy by asking a few thoughtful questions at faculty meetings and always voting with the majority. Never rock the boat, and publish in some lower end peer reviewed journals where you’re likely to get accepted, even though they don’t have the impact scores. At the end of the day, maybe people will feel too guilty to vote no.


There are the Slytherins, who play the game, and there are the Gryffindors, who fight the system. Go ahead. Take on Gender and Politics as your primary area of research.  And when the department questions your research agenda, call them on their bull shit.  In valiant and eloquent terms, tell them why your research matters, and why equity in political science is so important.  Make friends, but stand up for yourself. Don’t let anyone walk all over you at faculty meetings. You probably see the Slytherins as betraying your discipline. Maybe they are (isn’t that a Slytherin quality?) so make up for it by pushing for what’s right!  Now, you’d better have some publications and service on your record (Faculty Senate seems right for you), because all this fighting for what’s right might leave you a bit unpopular on the collegiality scale, but the discipline is counting on your courage and tenacity. Pave the way for future scholars!  For Godric Gryffindor!!

*Remember, we don’t even have tenure. We have no idea how to actually succeed at this.

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
Being a Woman · Departmental Politics · Hilarious But True

If You Give a Man a Meeting…

If you give a man a meeting, he’s going to want to change the location. His office. Always his office. NEVER yours.

When you change the location, he’ll probably make you change the time, too.  So, you’ll have to work it out with the Assistant Dean’s secretary so that everyone can be there.

When the meeting is finished, he’ll ask you for an executive summary of everything you talked about. In Power Point form.

Then, he’ll want to look through the Power Point on his computer to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

When he looks at his computer, he might notice the Excel spreadsheet you sent him last week. The one he was supposed to review and suggest changes but never did and is just now remembering it.

So he’ll probably email it back to you with some proposed additions (one of which is actually already on there but he didn’t see it) so he can send it to the Provost’s office.

When he’s finished sending the spreadsheet to the Provost’s office, he’ll want to be sure the new catalog copy reflects the changes in the spreadsheet.

He might get carried away and want to check the catalog copy for every course and program your department offers.

He may even end up checking the website as well!

When he’s done, he’ll probably want to go to happy hour with the visiting scholar while you make all of the corrections.

You’ll have to call and make the reservation for him.

He’ll start to head out to happy hour, but he won’t have the visiting scholar’s CV, so he’ll probably ask you to remind him what she’s presenting about.

So you’ll take a look, and you’ll tell him what she studies, and he’ll get so excited, he’ll want to work on a whole new research project. He’ll ask you to help him get some data.

He’ll write an abstract.  When the abstract is finished, he’ll want to submit it to MPSA.

Then, he’ll want to create a new selected topics course around this research agenda, which means he’ll need a course approval form.

You’ll finish the course approval form for him, and he’ll sit at his desk and look at it.

Looking at the course approval form will remind him that he needs to get the Assistant Dean’s approval to teach this course as an overload.


He’ll ask you to send the paperwork to the Assistant Dean’s office.

And chances are, if he asks you to send the paperwork to the Assistant Dean’s office…

He’s going to want a meeting to go with it.