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date: 26 January 2021

Measuring “Success” for Women in International Studies in Academic Settingslocked

  • Vicki L. GolichVicki L. GolichOffice of Academic Affairs, Metropolitan State University of Denver


Success is not easy to define or measure. In the academic field, traditional indicators of success include level of educational attainment, type and place of employment, tenure status, promotion or position status, publication productivity, and compensation. Alternatively, success can be defined as “the achievement of something desired or planned.” This is a more inward-looking definition of success, and adopting it might improve the chances for women to attain recognized success because it rewards what women in higher education and in international studies actually do. Some measures about how to determine success in international studies are more quantifiable than others, such as identifying obstacles women have had to overcome to enter and to thrive within the discipline. Others are controversial, such as self-professed goals that do not align with the traditional success measures. For example, many women—and even men—are simply more concerned with seeking work–life–family balance than the “prestige” of a tenured, full-professor appointment at an Ivy League Institution. Clearly, there is a need to change perceptions about what success means and what a successful life looks like. To this end, the academy in general, and international studies as an academic discipline in particular, should rethink how to evaluate quality teaching, recognize a broader range of research as valuable, and honor all kinds of service. They should also undertake some seriously introspective studies focused on why women’s work in academia remains so undervalued. Such studies must include recommendations for action aimed at rectifying current gender imbalances.

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