Kathleen Lennon’s obituary for Margaret Whitford, which is also a great primer on feminist philosophy in the UK from the 1980s on, is here.
‘It is difficult to convey the desert which faced women philosophers in Britain in the early 1980s’, Margaret Whitford once remarked. It was a desert that Margaret’s own work was pivotal in modifying. At a time when feminism was flourishing outside the academy, philosophy seemed especially immune from its influence; both in terms of content and in terms of numbers of women philosophers employed in academic departments. Philosophers who attempted to interrogate the foundations and presuppositions of their discipline, explicitly from their position as women, uttered what she later (in her inaugural lecture) identified as ‘fragments of ideas … murdered at birth’ by the policing of the philosophy establishment. To provide the conditions of possibility within which such ideas could take root, Margaret, along with other feminist philosophers, started women’s reading groups, seminars and workshops. From these came the establishment of the UK Society for Women in Philosophy, which her energy and vision were pivotal in maintaining. This established the Women’s Philosophy Newsletter (later renamed the Women’s Philosophy Review), which Margaret co-edited and produced from 1991 to 1997. She remained as books reviews editor until 2001.