There’s a post up on this over at NewAPPS; go check it out!
Equality in higher education: a fair outlook? May 3, 2013
It could be wishful thinking, but it seems to me that efforts to promote equality in UK higher education have picked up some momentum recently. For instance, last week the latest round of Athena SWAN awards were announced, which
recognise success in developing employment practices to further and support the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) departments in higher education… The Charter exists to instigate real and continuing change for women, and also their male colleagues… departments have to demonstrate not just a commitment to improving working practices but also measure the impact these changes are having, and tackle areas where progress hasn’t been as fast.
The Equality Challenge Unit have also announced that they’re going to expand the pilot which extends the Athena SWAN programme beyond STEMM subjects to humanities and social sciences (philosophy, are you listening?) as well as beginning a small pilot project doing similar work on ‘race’ equality. And they’ve just published some nice short briefings for academic staff on inclusive practice, promoting good relations and pastoral care.
Then there’s the Royal Society’s programme of work on diversity, including the STEM disability committee and a new diversity blog. There’s Sheffield University’s Women Academic Returners’ Programme, which offers additional support (worth a maximum of £10,000) to women returning from maternity leave to minimise the impact on research activities. Oh, and the Guardian Higher Education Network is having a live online chat about diversity in the university, today at midday.
There are things to celebrate: genuinely, if cautiously. It’s good that the topic is getting attention.
But. But… to me, it feels a bit thin – even (potentially) a bit self-congratulatory. Lots of us individually know full well that sexual harassment is a real and serious and current problem in universities, and one which is compounded by the failures of institutions to respond effectively. So is bullying. But ‘we’ don’t yet seem to know this collectively, as the academy, in a way which would make it intolerable for it to continue.
If the BBC can finally start to be honest about bullying and sexual harassment, why can’t we?
APA Scheduling April 15, 2013
For at least the last 7 years, the Pacific APA meeting has fallen over the Easter holiday (and other associated holy days for Christians). For at least the last couple of years, the Pacific APA has also fallen over part of Passover. I realize this has been brought up for discussion before, but I want to raise the issue again because it does strike me that this is a very serious issue of inclusion. Several wonderful philosophers I know had to skip this last APA meeting because of religious obligations. This is not purely a matter of religious inclusion either; those whom have primary care responsibilities for children will, I suspect, find attending both the Pacific and the Eastern division meetings rather difficult given school holidays.
I am sure no one is intentionally scheduling meetings so as to keep the religious philosophers and the primary-caregivers out—but the effects are problematic regardless of intentions. So, here is my question: Why is the APA schedule as it is, and what can we do about it?
Regarding the “why” issue, we already know the motivation is to keep costs down, and for whatever reason, hotel rates for conferences tend to be less expensive at these times, and rearranging the schedule will increase the cost. I’d be curious to know just how much of a difference in cost is at issue here, but however much it is, it seems there’s an easy solution: Move the APA meetings to less expensive locations to compensate for the difference.
Yes, I know; if we don’t have the APA meetings in lovely places like San Francisco, it might turn out that conference “attendance” will drop. Now, I’ve put “attendance” in quotes, because while this is the most common reply I’ve received when discussing the possibility of moving the meetings, it is entirely unclear to me how many philosophers who are primarily motivated by the location, actually attend the conference itself outside their own sessions.
The Ethics of Public Shaming March 22, 2013
I came across an article today about an instance of public shaming and its backlash in the tech industry. There is something about this story that bothers me, so I’m going to try to spell out exactly what. It’s connected to my experience of conversations about public shaming within philosophy as a profession. I’m hoping people who have thought longer and harder about this than I have will chime in.
Here are my (underdeveloped) thoughts on public shaming and the ethics of using it to combat hostile environments:
When it comes to holding people accountable for their actions in a community, our uncertain knowledge of others’ action is a big morass–one that I want to leave to the side for right now. In the articles I’ve linked to, there is a big issue that goes beyond uncertainty as to whether something inappropriate did occur. PyCon was relatively certain the men in the audience did something inappropriate, since it reprimanded them. The men in the audience pretty much admitted they did something inappropriate, since they apologized and promised to alter their future behavior. But given that relative certainty, PyCon and others have still said that Richard’s use of public shaming was an inappropriate response to overhearing inappropriate jokes. (I believe, regardless of whether such shaming had led to anyone getting fired or not.)
In short, PyCon and Ars Technica seem to be making the following argument: While there is indeed a hostile atmosphere for women in the programming field, publicly shaming two men on twitter for making sexually offensive jokes at a programming conference was uncalled for, overkill, and a violation of their privacy.
(more after the jump)
The Unwritten Rules of the Game February 18, 2013
I’ve been chatting lately with a junior colleague at another university (let’s call her Barb), and with grad students in the Pro Seminar I’m currently teaching, about all of the unwritten rules of the discipline — e.g., give the same paper at two conferences if you wish, but don’t submit it to two journals at the same time. Some supervisors and programs are good at teaching young philosophers these rules; others — not so much. And, in some places the “rules” are informally taught over rounds of beer or golf games, a practice that tends to exclude whomever’s not invited for beer or golf. (Y’all know who that is, right?) There’s pretty clearly an equity issue here. As with other etiquette conventions, such implicit rules can serve to subtly cue who’s on the inside and who’s on the outside.
To that end, Barb suggests that readers post in the comments below any of those unwritten rules of the game that they’ve learned over the years, or any questions they might have about such rules. Let’s shine a little light on Philosophy’s dimmer corners!
Inclusive pedagogy in the job ad December 18, 2012
Congratulations, department chair David Concepción, because your program at Ball State University has a job ad which is a model of awesomeness. If only more ads were like this!
BALL STATE UNIVERSITY, Muncie, IN. Dept. of Philosophy and Religious Studies, invites applications for a tenure-track position, effective August, 2013. 3-3 teaching load. AOS: Metaphysics broadly construed. AOC: Area of study concerning underrepresented populations including but not limited to African American Philosophy, Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory, Philosophy of Indigenous Peoples, Women and Gender studies and animal studies. Required qualifications: (a) PhD prior to application and (b) evidence of teaching effectiveness. Preferred qualification: Experience in mentoring non-majority students, inclusive pedagogy, and diversity issues.
The department highly values the teacher/scholar model, so candidates should have a passion for, and innovation regarding, teaching and learning. Candidates demonstrating the ability to offer a wide range of timely courses that should appeal to many student populations while still being properly thought of as metaphysics will receive serious consideration.
Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Submit complete dossier, including a curriculum vitae, graduate school transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a writing sample, a brief statement of teaching philosophy, and a brief statement of research interests to: Ann Marie Adams, Dept. Administrator, Philosophy and Religious Studies, Ball State University, Muncie, IN, USA, 47306-0500: email@example.com. Electronic submission is strongly preferred. For more information, see: http://www.bsu.edu/philosophy.
The department of Philosophy and Religious Studies seeks to attract an active, culturally and academically diverse faculty of the highest caliber. Ball State University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and is strongly and actively committed to diversity within its community. Therefore, we especially encourage applications from candidates that would contribute to this commitment.
Sexism at Science Journal Nature November 27, 2012
A pretty striking statement about the underrepresentation of women from the Editors at Nature. A cause for cautious optimism? Might have been nice if they’d said more about what those ‘unconscious factors’ are, but the resulting heuristic is still a promising one:
We believe that in commissioning articles or in thinking about who is doing interesting or relevant work, for all of the social factors already mentioned, and possibly for psychological reasons too, men most readily come to editorial minds. The September paper speculated about an unconscious assumption that women are less competent than men. A moment’s reflection about past and present female colleagues should lead most researchers to correct any such assumption.
We therefore believe that there is a need for every editor to work through a conscious loop before proceeding with commissioning: to ask themselves, “Who are the five women I could ask?”
Resources related to climate November 5, 2012
I have been very encouraged as of late by the efforts described on the What We’re Doing About What It’s Like Blog, as well as by the number of signatures on the petitions in support of the Gendered Conference Campaign (both our own, as well as Eric and Mark’s). It’s wonderful that so many philosophers are actively supportive of greater equity within the discipline. I thought it might be useful, then (for myself, if no one else), if we started putting together a collection of resources related to climate issues (ideas, data, examples, strategies, etc.). There are already resources all over–some more collected, some more scattered– here and elsewhere; this is intended to be just a bit of organizing. I know I’ve missed a lot so, please, do add more in the comments! (List after the jump.)