Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

If you’re wondering how wrong university procedures can go… April 24, 2014

[Trigger Warning]

This story from Brown University will give you some idea. I encourage anyone who is confused about why victims may not come forward especially to read it. But of course, this isn’t just about Brown.

Students were outraged in 2013, when Yale University disclosed in a semi-annual report that only one of six people found responsible for sexual assault had been suspended, and the rest were punished with reprimands, training or probation. A subsequent report showed one student was found guilty of sexual assault and was given a two- term suspension, and the rest of the assault cases hadn’t concluded or did not lead to a formal investigation.

From the 2008-09 academic year to 2012-13 at Harvard College, five students were required by the Administrative Board to withdraw from the undergraduate school due to “social behavior – sexual.” Two students were punished with probation for “social behavior – harassment/sexual” and the college took no action against six students for “social behavior – sexual.” Harvard College was hit with a federal complaint last month for, among other grievances, forcing sexual assault victims to live in the same residence halls as their attackers.

Documents provided by Dartmouth College show that from 2010 to 2013, sexual violence cases resulted in two students being “separated or resigned” from the college, two students suspended, two placed on probation and four found “not responsible.”Dartmouth may implement a policy that would make expulsion the preferred sanction for students guilty of sexual misconduct.

Colleges are not required to disclose how many students are investigated or punished for sexual misconduct. Columbia University, for instance, has so far declined to release such statistics.

Three women accused the same male student at Columbia of sexual assault. Still, two of the reported victims told HuffPost that the male student was found not responsible and was allowed to stay on campus.


Bias at early stage April 23, 2014

Filed under: academia,bias,science — Jender @ 12:25 pm

A fascinating new study examined rates of response to emailed requests for a meeting by prospective PhD students. Here’s what they found:

[T]he researchers found that there was virtually no difference in the rate of response when prospective students asked for an immediate meeting. But when they tried to schedule one in a week, white males were 26% more likely to successfully schedule a meeting and 16% more likely to receive a response. While white males were more likely to get a response if they asked to meet in a week rather than the same day, female and minority students had a better response rate when they asked to meet immediately. The response rate for women and minorities was 14 percentage points higher at public institutions than at private schools. Further, a $13,000 increase in a faculty member’s salary was associated with a four percentage point drop in the email response rate to women and minorities, but faculty salary had no such effect on white males.

Really fascinating, and important for philosophers to bear in mind as we try to make our field less white and male. (Thanks, S!)


SASSY Sharing Academic Sexism Stories w/You April 12, 2014

Filed under: academia,sexism — hippocampa @ 2:27 pm


@anyatopolski alerted me to the Sassy platform (Sharing Academic Sexism Stories with You),  which was launched on International Women’s Day last month. The site, in four languages, was founded by an independent group of volunteers from Belgian academic institutions and NGOs who wanted to provide an online space for stories that are otherwise only shared in private conversations.cropped-wp_header_bg_blueredgray_ac1[1]

Yesterday at the first official meeting of SWIP.NL (in Dutch), which was attended by both Dutch and Belgian members, the question was raised whether sexism was worse in the Netherlands or in Belgium. The proportion of female professors is appalling in both countries, and appears to be even worse for philosophy than for other subjects.

It would be nice if all the SWIPs in the world would team up together and get some funding to get it properly researched!

This SASSY project, however, is yet another good initiative to show that there really is a problem with sexism in academia.


Whiteness of academia, and celebration of eugenicist April 7, 2014

Filed under: academia,race — Jender @ 9:51 am

Gosh, could there be a connection?

William Ackah, lecturer in community and voluntary sector studies at Birkbeck, University of London, told the event, which was chaired by UCL provost and president Michael Arthur, that outdated Victorian views on the “wild and untamed” nature of “the Negro” still persisted at some level in UK universities.

“This [idea] that black life is…anti-intellectual still echoes down the corridors of time,” Dr Ackah said on 10 March.

“Society has grown comfortable with black people in sport or music, [but] it has a problem with black people leading in public life and academia, even if…we are more than capable of doing so,” he added.

The situation contrasts with US universities, where the existence of black studies courses had created a space for black academics to gain a foothold in academic life, Dr Ackah explained.

And also…

Amid many comments from a mainly black audience of students and academics, UCL itself was also criticised for its uncritical praise of one of its benefactors, the Victorian polymath Francis Galton, known as the “father of eugenics”.

One student raised the issue of UCL’s Galton Lecture Theatre – Galton also endowed a professorial chair in eugenics, now genetics, at UCL – in light of the scientist’s controversial opinions on the “inferior Negro race”, whom he hoped to be supplanted in Africa by the “industrious, order-loving Chinese”.

“Why do we celebrate someone like Francis Galton who hated us [ie, black people]?” the student asked.

Thanks, N!


On the Absence of Black British Academics

Filed under: academia,race — Jender @ 9:43 am


It is a shocking statistic that there were just 85 black professors in UK universities in 2011-12. In stark terms, this means that there are more higher education institutions than there are black British, African and Caribbean professors actually teaching in them. The latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency put the number of UK academic staff from a known ethnic minority at 12.8%.

In contrast, black and minority ethnic students are well represented. In some institutions, such as City University, they make up nearly 50% of the student population. Yet even in these universities black academics are a rarity, particularly those in senior positions.

It is hard to think of an arena of UK public life where the people are so poorly represented and served on the basis of their race. Yet this scandalous state of affairs generates little by way of investigation, censure or legal scrutiny under the 2010 Equality Act.

Thanks, N!


‘Flexibility stigma’ bad for all workers April 4, 2014

Filed under: academia,work — Heg @ 8:14 am

Interesting: this blog post summarizes a paper on what it’s like to be in a department where attempts to work flexibly are stigmatized:

To capture flexibility stigma, our survey asked whether STEM faculty who are fathers and mothers of school-aged children are seen as less committed to their career than their non-parent colleagues, and whether the use of formal or informal work-life policies has negative consequences for careers…

… we find several important consequences of being employed in a department with flexibility stigma, regardless of whether they personally have childcare responsibilities: faculty who report a flexibility stigma in their departments are less likely to intend to remain at their institutionless satisfied with their job overall, and feel like they have less work-life balance than colleagues who do not report such stigma in their departments. In other words, flexibility stigma is bad for all workers in the workplace, not just those personally at risk for being targets of the stigma.


What is it like to do a PhD with disability & chronic illness? March 24, 2014

Filed under: academia,disability,health,mental health — hippocampa @ 12:41 pm

bw2fa7xcqaad-qe[1]@zaranosaur‘s own experiences with having to juggle her chronic illness while trying to do a PhD led her to start a blog on just that: what it’s like to do a PhD with a disability & chronic illness with the accompanying twitter ID @PhDisabled. From the website:

The experiences of disabled PhD students are seldom heard in the world at large.  This is despite the fact that there are many out there whose doctoral efforts are inextricably shaped by their experience as PhD students with disability or chronic illness.

Our goal is to create a space for PhD students with disability or chronic illness to share their experiences.  It is only by sharing these experiences that we realise that we who walk this path are not alone.  It is only by sharing these experiences, by beginning to talk openly about them, that we can hope that things will one day improve.

We welcome submissions from all PhD students, past, present or otherwise, on all aspects of the experience at the intersection of academia, disability and chronic illness.

People are invited to share their stories and the response is overwhelming. Also check out the hashtag #AcademicAbleism.


A question about standpoints and understanding March 19, 2014

Filed under: academia,Uncategorized,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 9:25 pm

Standpoint theory in epistemology provides a gateway for my question: For our purposes, the theory can be something vague like, “Human beings often have perspectives that make some truths access to them, while the truths are not accessible to those without the perspectives.” For example, one might want to claim that there are truths accessible from the point of view of a gay person which are not accessible to others.

I was struck today by the fact that the vague principle above implies something we might find very troubling; namely, human beings typically lack perspectives that make some truths accessible to others. E.g., over some wide area, heterosexuals lack the perspective from which they might understand gay experience.

By way of background, let me say I have been thinking recently especially about conversations I had with Robert McClelland when we worked on the 2013 APA Central Division Meeting. He arranged a number of sessions on African American experience and thought. I learned a great deal from him in the short time we could talk, but I was also left with an abiding sense that too much experience that was a matter of course for him was nearly beyond my understanding. For example, the role of sports in the formation of young black boys’ ambitions was something of which I had only the most superficial of understandings.

I’ve been wondering how to understand and change my ignorance here. But right now I’m also wondering why I missed the fairly staggering implications of standpoint theory? Perhaps I didn’t really, and am simply seeing things mistakenly as if they were new. My sense right now is that there’s a pretty big chasm between many of the beliefs I employ in everyday life and those of people of color, of different ethnicities, etc.

I’d love to hear or see what others think about understanding others. It would be very easy to work one’s self into a quite skeptical mood here. There’s been some discussion in a number of places (e.g., new apps) of epistemic equals. We could see this point as a worry about how even to understand the implications of a fairly frequent lack of epistemic equality.


Disciplined for racism March 12, 2014

Filed under: academia,race,Uncategorized — Prof Manners @ 5:52 pm

Alfred Duckett, the only African American professor in the Cameron University Department of Music, is being disciplined, perhaps fired, for creating a hostile “racist” climate.  The article is disturbing, suggesting that part of the account of Duckett’s “problematic” behavior included placing anti-racism signs on his office door, advocating for diversity in hiring, raising race as a topic for departmental discussion, and describing a colleague (or her comment) as racist.  The AAUP is assisting Duckett, as it does seem this conflates “talking about race” with “racism.”  Very disturbing.   Link here: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/03/12/cameron-u-professor-sues-first-amendment-violations


Why Isn’t My Professor Black?

Filed under: academia,race — Jender @ 9:19 am

For those of us who couldn’t make this excellent event at UCL, a recording is available here! (Thanks, N!)



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