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Saturday 19 Aug 2017 | 01:06 | SYDNEY
Saturday 19 Aug 2017 | 01:06 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Women and the commentariat

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This post is part of the Women and the foreign policy commentariat debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

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1 September 2011 08:30


This post is part of the Women and the foreign policy commentariat debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

Susannah Patton writes:

All of the contributors to the Interpreter debate about 'women in international relations' in 2009 had one thing in common: they tried to point to something inherent in international relations that deters female participation. But the question of ‘women and the foreign policy commentariat' is slightly different. Rodger Shanahan's suggestion that women prefer alternative modes of communication is surely at least part of the reason for the gender imbalance in commentary.

Attending public lectures, I've noticed that no matter the topic (space exploration, foreign policy, economic policy), the first question, and then the second, and then the third, will probably be asked by a man. So it's not just in blogging where women are less represented than men. I wonder if this doesn't go to the 'male hubris, female humility' phenomenon, where women tend to underestimate their intelligence — or accordingly, the value of their contribution.

There are many, many outstanding women contributing to foreign policy commentary – as others have ably shown. But from my observations and experience (studying political science and now as a graduate working in foreign policy), my female peers and I tend to self-edit more than our male peers. It would be sloppy to infer from this that we're less interested or engaged in the subjects discussed.

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