Tag: networking

A Networking Post Inspired by Networking

So, I ran into Dan Drezner in the trendy-food part of the West Loop in Chicago tonight, as you do when you are at APSA. Dan asked if I was planning to respond to his post on networking, which is critical of my earlier post. Honestly, it was not high on my agenda, but who can resist networking as a motivation to write a post on networking?

In my post, I suggest that networking can have efficiency, career opportunity, and political benefits, with the caveat that it is not easy, does not always come naturally, and can actually be harmful if it goes awry. Dan suggests that neither myself nor Christian Davenport address the pitfalls of bad networking along with the benefits of good networking, and asks me to follow up with particular practical advice (and on my unfortunate description of “ah, the stories I could tell” about networking gone wrong).

While I will resist telling my own horror stories, I will take the bait to provide some skeleton advice that I’ve learned over the years – some from my experience, some from others’; some ‘the easy way,’ some ‘the hard way.’

So here are my humble ‘do’ and ‘don’t’ suggestions …  Continue reading

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Part II: The Glass Half Full: Gendered Progress in Academic Networking

This is a guest post by Sara McLaughlin Mitchell, Professor and Department Chair of Political Science at the University of Iowa. 

In my previous post, I discussed some problems women face when networking in political science. Here I focus on the progress we have made.

As a quantitative conflict scholar, I spend a great deal of time networking in several male-dominated research communities, including the Peace Science Society, the ISA SSIP section, the APSA Conflict Processes section, and the Society for Political Methodology. I first presented at a Peace Science meeting in 1996, being one female of 9 at the conference out of 66 participants. I attended my first Political Methodology summer conference in 1994 and was one of 9 women out of 50 participants. A healthy ego combined with enjoyment of traditionally male things such as drinking, gambling, and sports eased my own integration into these communities.  Yet I attended many presentations by smart women in both organizations who soon afterwards made decisions to exit the groups or leave the profession. This included the female co-chair of my dissertation committee, two female students at Michigan State who graduated ahead of me and got jobs in top 25 ranked programs, and several women from other top institutions. Continue reading

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Netw…. Um, maybe not.

Say networking one more time

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The Glass Half Empty: Gendered Problems in Academic Networking

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Sara McLaughlin Mitchell, Professor and Department Chair of Political Science at the University of Iowa. It is Part 1 of a 2-part discussion. 

Many recent posts (e.g., posts here by David Lake, Dan Nexon, and Laura Sjoberg, and elsewhere by Christian Davenport and Steve Saideman) have discussed professional networking in political science.  Given my belief that academic experiences are not universal, a viewpoint articulated by Will Moore (https://willopines.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/some-dimensions-over-which-the-return-to-networking-is-not-uniform/), I add another perspective to this debate.  I focus on several problems female scholars might encounter in male dominated academic environments, especially as they try to become professionally networked into these groups. In so doing, I draw largely on my experiences at conferences I have attended frequently, including APSA, ISA, Peace Science Society, and the Society for Political Methodology. Gendered problems include:

1) Working hard to find people who look like you

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Don’t Stress About Networking

Editor’s Note:  This is a guest post from Professor Peter M. Haas of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Finding myself on the grey haired side of the academic divide and having experienced both sides of the process, let me reiterate David Lake’s points about networking with senior faculty.  While networking to make friends is a lovely idea, it doesn’t always work at a large professional event, nor with senior people who aren’t necessarily looking for junior friends.  The point at major international conferences, like APSA or ISA, is that networking isn’t really a social activity. It is an instrumental activity aimed at establishing name recognition for later interaction.  As they say, it is what it is.  I have found more specialized workshops and conferences a better place to network and meet, such as the annual Earth Systems Governance conferences.  They are more laid back and welcoming and they have far fewer distractions (fewer colleagues with whom to catch up, fewer publishers, fewer concurrent panels, and generally more time with less to do in more isolated venues).

Senior scholars do value the ideas of, and interactions with, junior scholars.  Indeed the source of change in the discipline comes from new ideas.  So the interaction is healthy and necessary.   Yet, everyone tends to be too busy at the large conferences.  The vast size and overbooking is actually a lamentable thing, and truly counterproductive for facilitating serendipitous contacts.

What you can hope for from networking at ISA or APSA is probably rather limited. Continue reading

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Networking at Conferences: Not Just for Graduate Students and Junior Faculty

NetworkingEditor’s Note: This is a guest post by David Lake, who is the Jerri-Ann and Gary E. Jacobs Professor of Social Sciences and Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego.

I want to weigh in on “networking at conferences” debate here on the Duck (and elsewhere), some of which has been lost in subsequent controversy.

I agree with the prior posts by Saideman, Nexon, Sjoberg, and others, available here, that networking is less important than good research, and that networking among peers is far more valuable than networking with senior scholars. The most valuable thing you, as a junior scholar, can do at a conference is cultivate a group of peers who share your intellectual interests, who come from sufficiently different intellectual backgrounds (e.g., graduate programs) that you can learn lots of new things from them, and with whom you are personally comfortable and compatible.

Some of my closest and most trusted colleagues are those I met at the first few APSAs I attended. We started off as competitors for “attention” on panels, and ended up as collaborators, commiserators, sometimes colleagues, and in the end, good personal friends. These are the people who will keep you sane in the profession. They will read and comment on your work, share your professional worries and fears, understand the frustrations of balancing career and family, applaud your successes and, yes, cry with you at your failures (I remember one devastatingly bad presentation at an NBER conference from which I would not have recovered were it not for a couple of these good friends also attending and even more bottles of wine). You can’t plan these relationships, nor randomly roam the halls of the hotel looking for them, but be open to possibilities and take risks: ask a fellow panelist to coffee at the conference, follow up on an interesting discussion, and most important collaborate in organizing a panel on your mutual interests for a future conference.

But let me offer a slightly different perspective on networking from the other posts on this topic. Yes, approaching senior scholars is hard. I have done my share of approaching over the years, and recognize the courage it takes to introduce yourself to someone you know only through their writings. Now, more often than not, I’m the senior scholar– at least by age, if not yet self-image – who is being approached. Having been on both sides of these interactions, I recognize they can often (always?) be awkward. You will sometimes get shot down, as I was on numerous occasions. Not every overture will be reciprocated. But some will — and truly rewarding interactions and mutually beneficial intellectual relationships can follow. Continue reading

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Social Media Before Conference Networking

This is a guest post by Brent Sasley. Sasley is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Texas at Arlington. He blogs at Mideast Matrix and Open Zion. Follow him on Twitter.

The political science/IR blogosphere has been engaged in an interesting discussion in recent days: whether and how junior scholars should network at academic conferences (just follow the links from this piece to get them all or scroll down through Duck of Minerva’s main page).

My own two cents is that it depends on the conference, on the specific sub-field, and on the individual academic. Some conferences—like APSA and ISA—are so big that giants in the field are always going to know they’re in demand, especially if they’ve been established for awhile. They will choose according to their own criteria whether and how to respond to people clamoring for their interest, and that doesn’t bode well for most of us.

Some sub-fields, though, are small enough that you can contact the big names and you’ll likely get a positive response and—even more importantly—genuine interest in meeting. The same goes for smaller conferences: The Association for Israel Studies is really small compared to APSA and ISA, and there is a much more intimate feel to its annual conventions. You can pretty much go up to anybody there and expect some engagement—although like at the bigger ones, you can (I know from experience) still get scholars who treat you like you’re a first-year undergrad excited simply to be in the same room as them, regardless of your own standing. Ego isn’t field-specific.

And, of course, some people are simply better at networking in person than others. Some people are more outgoing, charismatic, and insistent. Others, not so much. Continue reading

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Let’s talk about sex

Disclaimer: This is not an official response from the Duck collective, but my reaction. 

For those of you who have spent any time with me at conferences over the last year, I feel like I have been a little bit of a broken record with this as an academic message – let’s talk about sex. By that I mean sex as an act and sexuality as context for that act, and sexualized power. I’ve seen so many discussions of things that cannot possibly be understood without sex (the act) being taken account of nonetheless explained without it. Want to know who controlled what territory when in early modern Europe? Often, it depended on who was having sex with (/marrying) who. The story of the Reformation? Cannot be told without a story of the meeting of sexual desire and power. Military deployments have often relied on (or believed they relied on) the provision of sexual services in “the war zone.” G. H. W. Bush “penetrated Saddam Hussein’s inner sanctum,” and “it was dirty in there” – perhaps (and hopefully) only metaphorically. It is not unreasonable to posit a link between Bill Clinton getting a blow job from Monica Lewinsky and the United States’ bombings in Kenya and Sudan (or at least the timing of them). Who you have sex with (and their sex/gender) can lead to a long laundry list of categorizations, inclusions, and exclusions, socially and legally, in global politics. There is an international politics of fucking, and fucking in international politics that is substantively meaningful. While some queer and feminist work has touched on some of this, often the act of sex remains taboo in studying the politics of global politics.

“Out there” in IR is not the only place that there is a sexual politics. I have argued before that there is a gender politics to the field – by “gender politics” I mean a power politics of masculinities and femininities, masculinization and feminization. Here, I argue that there is a sexual politics to the field, which, while always, cannot be reduced to or held equivalent to gender politics. Sex (the act) substantively impacts the structure, content, and function of the field.
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