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The mysterious absence of women from Middle East policy debates

Interesting and stunning numbers, particularly as women are very present in this field.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/01/20/the-mysterious-absence-of-women-from-middle-east-policy-debates/

Last year, six leading Washington think tanks presented more than 150 events on the Middle East that included not a single woman speaker. According to data, which we recently compiled (available on request), fewer than one-quarter of all speakers at those events were women. How is it possible that in 2014, not a single woman could be found to speak at 65 percent of these influential and high-profile D.C. events?

Such questions are increasingly common in other fields, including the natural sciences. In our experience, organizers of all-male events reply to challenges with one of two answers: “I didn’t even notice there weren’t any women!” or “I couldn’t think of any women to invite.”

Really? Well-known women experts in Middle East politics are on the faculties at Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Stanford, Chicago, Northwestern, American, Georgetown and many more universities. Nine of the 15 members of the steering committee of the Project on Middle East Political Science (directed by Marc Lynch) are women. A dozen women have served as president of the Middle East Studies Association. Women are likewise a palpable presence in Middle East policy: Well over a dozen women have served as U.S. ambassadors in the Middle East, and Anne Patterson currently serves as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, the highest-ranking U.S. diplomat dedicated to the region.

As for the think tanks, women run the Middle East Institute, the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution (Tamara Cofman Wittes), the Middle East Center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Center for the Middle East and Africa at the U.S. Institute of Peace, and play key roles at the Middle East programs of the Center for a New American Security and the Atlantic Council. Women journalists covering the region are powerhouses in print, on air and on Twitter; there are, frankly, too many of them doing cutting-edge work in the region to even start to list them.

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