What Makes Someone a Political Methodologist?
by Justin Esarey, Rice University
This essay argues that one can understand what it means to be a methodologist by studying the character of the methods community. An analysis of multiple sources of information, including a text analysis of published abstracts from Political Analysis and American Political Science Review, reveals that methodologists are focused on building, assessing, and improving quantitative models and techniques of immediate practical importance to substantive political scientists. However, many women who share this focus do not participate in the community’s basic activities, such as attending and presenting at the annual meeting of the Society for Political Methodology. By comparing gender representation in statistics and mathematics departments to that in the methods community, the essay concludes that nothing about the substance of political methodology is a barrier to gender diversity in the field. However, aspects of the community’s discursive culture might contribute to underrepresentation among women and other groups.