Gathering data on gender distribution

From Kristen Syrett (kristen.syrett@rutgers.edu)
Dear all,
I’m writing to you, because I believe we are all like-minded in wanting to gather data on gender distribution and the representation of women in the field of Linguistics, and use these data to implement some positive changes in the field. I am currently chair of the LSA’s Committee for the Status of Women in Linguistics (COSWL).
The charge of COSWL is, “To monitor and advance the status of women in Linguistics.” To that end, one of our major initiatives this year (which will continue beyond this year, to be sure) is to gather and analyze data on gender distribution and the representation of women in a range of areas in the field, which can then be published and/or formally presented in a venue accessible to others in the field. (On a side note, COSWL have been actively involved in the last year in increasing awareness about the skew in gender distribution in LSA awards, particularly the Early Career Award, and was instrumental in instituting changes for the nomination process this past year, with a very positive outcome for 2015! We hope to continue this momentum this year.)
Emily and I believe that the grassroots efforts on data collection are an extremely effective way of compiling data. We also think that combining forces and working collectively on this effort would result in an incredibly meaningful and useful result.  For example, right now, if I wanted my colleagues to consider data on this topic when compiling short lists, inviting speakers at conferences, evaluating journal practices, etc., there is no common place where I can point them to reveal data on this topic, and the data are not uniformly accessible.  I had such an instance arise in the last year, and I desperately wanted to be able to refer my colleague to a reliable source of data to underscore my point, but was not able to do so.
I’m therefore writing specifically to you all to see if you (and anyone else you can think of) would be interested in working together on this data collection and analysis initiative.  We have a very enthusiastic group of COSWL members who are ready to hit the ground running with this, and who bring with them some skills and access to resources that could be very valuable in this effort. We have some ideas about our short-term and long-term goals for data collection and analysis.
The LSA could also provide us with valuable resources in reaching out to current members, but also more broadly to departments and others in the field, with the purpose of collecting and compiling data.(I had a meeting with the secretariat about this topic last week, and Emily also talked with them about this effort last year, so they are very supportive of COSWL’s work on this.) In addition, the LSA secretariat has been compiling data about gender distribution in Language and Semantics and Pragmatics submissions and publications, which could prove valuable. I see the LSA as a valuable resource in this endeavor, facilitating the collection and dissemination of relevant data.
In short, I am very much hoping that combining efforts and utilizing the resources of COSWL could really be awesome, and result in some very positive outcomes for the field.  I would be very happy to talk to any/all of you further either by email or Skype in the next few weeks. (Please forward this message along to whoever else you think might be interested!)
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience!
Warmest regards,
Kristen
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