Our Diverse Community

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ISA is committed to ensuring welcoming and hospitable spaces for every member of our diverse community. As part of our work towards creating an inclusive community of scholars, we ask that all members reflect on the unconscious biases that they hold as they engage in professional activities associated with the organisation (including reviewing for ISA journals, building proposals for ISA conferences, and participating in ISA events and activities).

There are many types of unconscious bias, which manifest in both the language that we use, and our behaviour. Affinity bias, for example, can cause us to gravitate towards people who we perceive as similar to ourselves. This might mean we unconsciously exclude, or do not give opportunities to, people that are perceived as different. Reflecting on affinity bias is particularly important for senior scholars engaging in formal and informal “networking” conversations. Age bias can lead to people perceived as much older or younger than the “norm” of middle-age being excluded or having their contributions dismissed or trivialised. Racial/Ethnic bias can lead to people of colour being excluded from certain discussion on the basis of assumptions around what they might have interest/expertise in. Gender bias can lead to women being invited to speak less often, or talked over more frequently, or passed over for opportunities on the basis of assumptions about current or future parenting responsibilities. The unconscious biases that we hold can thus lead to exclusions in professional settings, through language and behaviour. This video is a useful resource on unconscious bias. You can also take the Implicit Association Test if you are interested in learning more about the biases you hold.

In North America and Western Europe, as well as Australia and New Zealand, throughout history and still today, various identity categories are privileged over others. These include, but are not limited to, whiteness, heterosexuality, masculinity, cis-gender presentation (which is the presentation of gender that maps directly and in an uncomplicated way to the sex an individual is assigned at birth), and being perceived as “able bodied” and neurotypical. To say that these identities enjoy privilege does not mean that individuals who identify with these categories will never experience difficulty; it means that in most circumstances, whiteness - for example - is not going to be a barrier to success or inclusion. This essay provides a useful explanation of social privilege.

These forms of privilege co-exist with more obvious forms of privilege such as institutional prestige, which is also a useful point of reflection.There is a lot of assumed knowledge about norms and behaviour at the ISA annual convention, which is why the ISA produces a First Time at ISA? guide. Knowing the “hidden curriculum” is a form of privilege and inclusive practice requires being sensitive to the subtle ways we send signals about who belongs where, and how (you can explore the hashtag on Twitter for more information, which is particularly relevant to those who are first in their family to complete higher education).

The ISA Code of Conduct applies to all individuals in the context of ISA activities. In order to participate in the ISA 2021 Convention, all registrants agreed to abide by the ISA Code of Conduct in the registration process. If a situation arises that you feel is a violation of the Code, please reach out to a member of the ISA Executive Committee.

If you need ADA accommodations at an ISA convention, please contact us as soon as possible at adaneeds@isanet.org and someone from ISA Headquarters will be in touch.

ISA Resources

The ISA has many different resources and activities supporting wider participation and representation, including:

  1. Emerging Global South Scholar Workshop at annual ISA conventions and international conferences to promote and support junior Global South scholarship and networking (organised by the Global South Caucus)
  2. Chandra Sriram Human Rights Section Global South Travel Grant to assist scholars working or studying at an academic or policy institution in the Global South with costs associated with attending the annual convention.
  3. FTGS (Feminist Theory and Gender Studies) Convention Award to assist applicants affiliated with or graduating from institutions that do not enjoy significant resource and geographical privilege with costs associated with attending the annual convention.
  4. Lynne Rienner Publishers Global South Travel Grant to assist scholars working or studying at an academic or policy institution in the Global South with costs associated with attending the annual convention.
  5. Susan S. Northcutt Award, which recognizes a person who actively works towards recruiting and advancing women and other minorities in the profession.
  6. Pay It Forward, which is a mentoring program designed for self-defined ‘early career’ women within the International Studies profession.
  7. “In Other Words” roundtables at the annual convention, which aim to increase linguistic inclusiveness in reflection of the diversity of the organisation.
  8. “Structuring Inclusion/Challenging Oppression” panels at the annual convention, which provide space to consider practical reforms and institutional mechanisms to advance inclusivity in ISA and across the academy.

Looking for More?

  1. Many Research and Workshop grants include specific provisions geared toward Global South scholars;
  2. The organisation attempts to curate relevant Global South data, including publication submissions/ responses/ acceptances, conference participation, governance participation, and travel grant awards; and
  3. The organisation undertakes dedicated fundraising geared towards Global South members’ advancement within the ISA.

For more information on these and related initiatives, contact the Committee on the Status of Engagement with the Global South.