Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

A Reply to “The Gender Academy” July 14, 2014

In a July 5th article, “The Gender Academy,” University of Colorado Boulder philosophy grad student Spencer Case complains about his department’s new “Best Practices” document, which recommends, among other things, that classroom discussion facilitators make an effort to assist students from underrepresented groups in participating in discussion “by, for example, intervening when such students are interrupted or spoken over while attempting to contribute.”

“This is micro-managing and worse,” he objects, “Instead of being an objective facilitator of learning for all, the teacher must now be an advocate for some.”

Kudos to University of Colorado Boulder philosophy grad student Sofia Huerter, who wrote a reply to Case, drawing on Jenny Saul’s work on implicit bias and stereotype threat:

“I have, for some months, permitted myself to remain silent with regard to the climate in my department because I have become so preoccupied with my own fears of confirming stereotypes about women in philosophy, namely that we aren’t very good at it for one reason or another. I have felt fearful that any slip-ups on my end will result in accusations of fallacious and misguided reasoning, engendering yet more negativity in the debate about the status of women in philosophy…

Stereotype threat is a psychological phenomenon which affects the way that members of stigmatized groups perform. Victims of stereotype threat tend to under-perform on relevant tasks, such as writing papers, because they are unconsciously preoccupied with fears of confirming stereotypes about their groups…

As women enter graduate programs in philosophy, they are likely to be reminded of their under-representation in various ways. For instance, as Jennifer Saul notes, in most classes, other than perhaps feminist philosophy, they are likely to encounter syllabuses consisting overwhelmingly of male authors, and the people teaching most of their classes are likely to be male. Further, those who are teaching are susceptible to implicit bias. As such, we are likely to witness in philosophy departments the same well-documented asymmetries in the treatment of male and female students that have been observed in other areas of academics. For instance, we are likely to see teachers calling upon male students more often than female students…”

(See here for the full reply.)

UPDATE: Case has published a reply to some of his critics, in which he argues that feminism is not a sub-discipline of philosophy and ought to “be discussed alongside conservatism, libertarianism, liberalism, fascism, and socialism in political-philosophy classes.” Presumably his arguments are directed at feminist philosophy, and not feminism — which is not (and as far as I know has not ever been) characterized as a “sub-discipline of philosophy.” Even under this charitable reading, however, Case’s argument is little more than a classic example of a straw-person fallacy; the argument shows merely that feminist philosophy should not be “insulated” from “criticism” — which, of course, is not a conclusion that anyone would contest. What the “Best Practices” document recommends is that philosophers refrain from disparaging sub-disciplines of philosophy, not from providing a rational critique.


Disability and Graduate School Considerations April 14, 2014

Filed under: deaf,disability,graduate students,minorities in philosophy,Uncategorized — Teresa Blankmeyer Burke @ 11:33 am

Helen de Cruz has a great post up at NewAPPS that discusses, among other things, why graduate students might opt to attend unranked programs.


Another, often overlooked, consideration in play for some graduate students is disability. Some campuses are more friendly and accommodating to students with particular kinds of disabilities, some local communities have more resources than others, some states have policies that make it easier to be funded by vocational rehabilitation than others, some states (in the U.S.) provide tuition waivers to students with certain disabilities, and so on.




Reader query: Misguided ‘diversity’ efforts in recruitment March 13, 2014

Filed under: minorities in philosophy — Jender @ 12:37 pm

A reader writes:

Given the expertise of this blog and its readers, I would like to ask for some help. I have a philosophy student who is currently considering offers from several graduate programs. She returned from a recent campus visit feeling traumatized after school representatives marginalized her through efforts to demonstrate their “inclusiveness” and “commitment” to diversity.

I apologize for the vagueness of the details and understand the specifics may affect responses. The student liked the idea of presenting her situation to this blog, but for the purpose of protecting my student’s identity, I’m not going to name the “diversity” groups(s) or the specific graduate program. For now, I’ll include that the program is a highly interdisciplinary, social justice-oriented program. She is a member of a community with protected status and has been offered significant scholarships reserved for school-specific diversity initiatives.

Some examples she provided for how the school treated her as a token and exotic other:
- Planning events with unrelated “diverse others” that erased significant differences between heterogeneous identities
- Focusing on her “diversity status” in every encounter and putting her in situations to speak for an entire community, which distracted attention away from her work as a scholar
- Being told that if she had problems meeting admission requirements, including standardized testing, that the school has a “diversity exception” permitting them to accept lower scores, GPAs, etc. for diverse applicants, even though SHE HAS ALREADY BEEN ACCEPTED to this program!

Advice she has requested from us:
1. The economic incentives and research opportunities are substantial, but she’s concerned about working with and being mentored by people who treat her this way. What thoughts do you have on navigating this conflict?
2. How to respond to the program. She is considering turning down the offer, but also wants to explain why. How to do this without being reduced to an “ungrateful other”?
3. “Is grad school even worth it?”

Advice I’m requesting:
1. Experience with how to mentor a student through this process.
2. Strategies for using my professional position to help her respond that can deflect some of the focus and energy directed at her personally?


Samir Chopra on the Dearth of Black Philosophers March 9, 2014

Filed under: minorities in philosophy,race — Jender @ 2:18 pm



Want to improve the climate in Philosophy? Sign up to help! February 19, 2014

Filed under: minorities in philosophy,women in philosophy — jennysaul @ 6:23 am

Philosophical Spaces has made it easy. This post gives a list of simple things you can do. There’s even a link you can click that takes you to an online form allowing you to volunteer. And, if you have money but not time, there’s a link you can use to donate to the APA Fund for Diversity and Inclusiveness.


The PGR’s un-women-friendly epistemology February 11, 2014

Lady Day:

McAfee’s punch line: “Is there a systematic bias in the PGR methodology that leads it to value more male-dominated departments? Well, yes. An unrepresentative and hand-picked advisory board plus unrepresentative and hand-picked evaluators will lead to a slanted take on the value of the work going on in the profession. You don’t have to be a stand-point epistemologist to see this.”

[Update:  I'm going to recommend that anyone who wishes to comment on the post do so at Gone Public, where it originally occurred, rather than below the reblog here. To that end (and because I'm not able to moderate comments today), I've closed comments below.]

Originally posted on gonepublic: philosophy, politics, & public life:

Julie Van Camp just updated her Spring 2004 article, “Female-Friendly Departments: A Modest Proposal for Picking Graduate Programs in Philosophy” that pointed out the under-representation of women on the advisory board of Brian Leiter’s Philosophical Gourmet Report . This month Van Camp expanded the  postscript with numbers showing that in the past ten years little has changed.

Postscript: November 20, 2004 [updated 2/3/2014]

The 2011 Report:
The list of the Top 51 doctoral programs is included in the 2011 Philosophical Gourmet Report. The 56 members of the  Report’s Advisory Board for 2011 included nine females (16.1%) and was based on the reports of 302 evaluators, including 46 women (15.2%).

The 2009 Report:
The 55 members of the  Report’s Advisory Board for 2009 included eight females (14.5%) and was based on the reports of 294 evaluators, including 37 women (12.6%).

The 2006-08 Report:
The 56 members of the Report’s Advisory Board for…

View original 359 more words


What’s the state of your state? January 25, 2014

Readers: Does your state/city/municipality have non-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ communities? Is there relevant legislation in place or pending that you know of? Post here on the state of the laws in your place of residence with regard to LBGTQ equality for the sake of our readers on the market, and save some already exhausted candidates some time.


Underrepresented Philosophers Database January 8, 2014

Filed under: minorities in philosophy,women in philosophy — Jender @ 7:24 am

Malcolm Keating has built upon Helen DeCruz’s excellent work to create a really wonderful database we can all go contribute to!

The purpose of this website is to collect the names and works of philosophers underrepresented in philosophy courses at the undergraduate level. By incorporating more works by philosophers belonging to typically underrepresented groups, it may be possible to combat stereotype threat and improve retention of women, persons of color, and others who are historically minorities in philosophy.

Through this website, you may

add names of, and works by, underrepresented philosophers
search for philosophers (by a number of criteria)
view demographic information for the philosophers.

This will only work if we all do our bit by adding ourselves, and others! Also, do let Malcolm know about other things you’d like the database to include. It’s a work in progress, and he’s eager for it to evolve in response to the needs of the community!

But before you go rush off to add lots of other people, do note that due to privacy concerns you should only add yourself or historical figures.


Syllabi: Got Women? January 3, 2014

When crafting my Intro to Ethics syllabus for the upcoming semester, I tried to find as many great pieces by women as I could, hoping that I could meet the 20% challenge.  I didn’t do any conscious counting, though…until now. Here’s how it turned out:

100 total philosophers that we will be reading or reading about (about 10 are actually scientists or other non-philosophers)
56 are from required readings & activities, 44 from recommended ones.

Gender breakdown:

Required Readings (Men-Women): 68% – 32% (38-18)
Recommended Readings (M-W): 63% – 36% (28-16)

Women of color on the syllabus: Rabi’A Al- Adawiyya, Michelle Alexander, Michele Moody-Adams, and Caster Semenya as someone we’re reading about.  Wooo!! …That’s actually super sad that I’m excited to have more than 1% WoC on my syllabus.

So overall not shabby, considering that current efforts to get 20% women authors on syllabi are seen by some as necessarily lowering the quality of what we teach.  <sarcasmfont> I really had to lower my standards to include Foot, Nussbaum, Anderson, Moody-Adams, Korsgaard, Langton, and Fricker. </sarcasmfont>

I know this is not incredibly difficult when you’re teaching ethics, but it was still rather amusing how many times I stumbled upon a great piece that would make me think, “Oh ya; they do ethics and are awesome. I should teach them. Why didn’t I immediately think of that? And why aren’t they in the textbook?”

I’m using one textbook and everything else is from individual essays. Total authors from the textbook: 29. Men-Women ratio of authors I’m using: 80% – 20% (23-6).  (For the textbook as a whole the ratio is probably between 5-10%, which is my guess from eyeballing it).


How goes other people’s efforts to craft syllabi without atrocious demographics?


Gender-Inclusive Conferences Session January 1, 2014

Update: Now with John Protevi’s talk: 2013 APA Eastern session final draft

Another bit of the APA I was sad to miss was the session on Gender-Inclusive Conferences, which featured Kate Norlock, John Protevi and Jason Stanley.  (It was organised by Nancy Bauer.)  It sounds awesome– standing room only and really great papers and discussion.  I’m very pleased, though, to be able to post Kate’s powerpoints, the draft talks that Jason and John presented.

Here’s Kate’s talk: Why and How to Organize a Gender-balanced Conference

Here’s Jason’s talk: apacomments




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