Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

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at Birkbeck, University of London, told the event, which was chaired by UCL provost and president Michael Arthur, that outdated Victorian views on the “wild and untamed” nature of “the Negro” still persisted at some level in UK universities.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


We need to make room for breaking the silence March 10, 2014

These last few weeks have been difficult for us as a community—and rightly so—but despite all that’s come to light, still, so much remains hidden. Here, at Feminist Philosophers, we have been talking a bit about the pain of silence recently. I think if we are to come out of this stronger as a community, if we’re going to be able to move forward at all, we need to make room for people to not be silent. Sometimes it seems as though we are caught in a web of interlocking prisoners’ dilemmas: Conversations about harassment, discrimination, and assault are difficult and they are often politically risky. In the short run, if we have the luxury, it can seem easier to simply avoid them. But collectively we have the power to make them less risky.  We can create a culture in which victims are supported well enough to come forward and active bystanders are cultivated. We can do this by offering our solidarity with those who are marginalized, vulnerable, and would otherwise be ignored; by treating our colleagues with respect even when we disagree with them; by acting with compassion and understanding; by speaking and acting ourselves where possible.

To that end, I must acknowledge what happened here last week,  and say that I am thankful for the courageous and peaceful activism of the Northwestern students, for the intervention of Rachel McKinnon (and others) in a comment thread here, and to all of those who are working to make our discipline more inclusive and welcoming.

UPDATE: I also want to acknowledge that our comments policy was violated in a number of ways–and that I am not thankful for. Our ‘Be Nice’ rule is not here simply for the sake of our friends; rather, it’s here so that everyone can participate in healthy and fruitful discussion.  It’s important to note these violations even in cases where I’m very glad that something was said. I have also removed the links above.


Welcome to the blogosphere, DailyNous! March 8, 2014

Filed under: academia,Blogroll — Lady Day @ 3:41 pm

There’s a new kid on the virtual block, DailyNous.

It’s very early days for this new blog, but its comments policy is already a welcome contribution to the philosophy blogosphere:

9. Is there a comments policy? Yes. The comments policy is this: before you comment, imagine the following. You are seated in a comfortable chair at a table with all of the other commentators. You have gathered to discuss an issue of mutual concern, and you are aiming to learn something from the conversation. Take off your shoes if you’d like. Wriggle your toes. Appreciate the wonders of everyday life in the twenty-first century. On the table in front of you is your favorite beverage. Through the window is your favorite view. And seated next to you is a child, who you brought with you for a lesson on how to discuss controversial issues with strangers. Are you imagining all of that? Okay, now try commenting.

I might just make this the policy for the next grad seminar I teach too. It’s kind of awesome.

(h/t AM)



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