Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

So you think you are not biased against any group. So what? January 6, 2014

Filed under: academia,bias,gender,politics,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 10:26 pm

In the “Men behaving splendidly” session at the APA, there was some discussion of what percentage of women should we push for. Elizabeth Harman made a strong and important point; it was roughly this: When we give conferences we are educating the next generation, so we should have 50 % women philosophy speakers.

Whatever the right numbers, it is a very safe bet that a conference without women speakers, or with a very small minority of them, is not encouraging women to participate in philosophy.

But, you might say, you don’t think badly of women philosophers; you may an effort to include some, but it doesn’t always work out. Well, read below; in some ways it makes points made at the APA, but briefly and directly:

From Nancy Di Thomaso:

In a study I conducted among white workers, I found that 70% of the participants’ jobs, past and present, had been landed with the help of friends or relatives who were in a position to provide inside information, exert influence on the candidates’ behalf, or directly offer job or promotion opportunities.

Yet virtually all of these employees, as well as white managers I’ve interviewed, maintain that they oppose racism and are in favor of equal opportunity.

In my work on diversity, I often meet CEOs who are genuinely concerned about disparities and are highly motivated to increase their organizations’ diversity. Yet they frame the issue in terms of discrimination and “bias against.” They don’t see the powerful locked-arms effect of the “bias for” that’s prevalent in hiring and promotion decisions. I once spoke to an executive whose company was being celebrated for its commitment to diversity, but over dinner I was told proudly by one of the key HR managers that the company relies on referrals from existing employees for many of their middle-management hires.

Which brings me to take an unpopular stand: Up with bureaucracy.

I don’t mean the kind of bureaucracy that drives people crazy. I mean the kind that provides minority candidates with protections from biases that are embedded in corporate decision-making. It’s perfectly logical for managers to want to interview and hire known quantities—résumés can be opaque and mendacious, and there’s no Angie’s List equivalent for finding highly recommended employees (at least not yet). But when it comes to hiring and promotion, I’m in favor of a systems approach that reduces reliance on the kinds of judgments that lead to bad decisions—an approach that is measured not on process but on outcomes with regard to the competency, race, ethnicity, and gender of hired or promoted employees.

I’ll be the first to acknowledge that a systems approach can feel inadequate; the “numbers” never tell a complete story. Neither companies nor universities rely solely on test scores, because they know that doing so wouldn’t lead to the best outcomes. So the trick is creating a systems approach that evaluates candidates in a holistic way. That means an array of metrics, from competency tests to psychological profiles regarding fit for the job. Companies need to establish specific criteria on what constitutes competence in any given job, and they need to collect data on those specific criteria rather than rely on assumptions or impressions. To be effective, metrics need to be specified in advance, and they need to be up to date and not based solely on managerial perceptions.

Part of the solution is a new mind-set on executives’ part. There’s abundant evidence that just trying harder or wanting to do better doesn’t make a difference. What does matter is being conscious of the decisions we are making—we need to move these crucial decisions from the unconscious to the conscious realm. If we think about being accountable for the decisions we make, and if we stop believing that we can make truly unbiased or objective decisions, then we are less likely to make decisions that reflect implicit or unconscious bias in favor of people like ourselves—and more likely to end up with a workforce that is more diverse and better fits the needs of our organizations and their global clients.

 

A blow to size shame! December 21, 2013

Filed under: bias,gender,politics,Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 10:56 pm

Until recently, rare was the ‘elite designer’ who made more than an occasional size 12; sizes 2 and 4 were preferred. It seemed to me, anyway. The idea sseemed to be that if you wanted off the rack high-end clothes, you either had skinny genes or you worked at it. If there’s a uncontrollable cause to your size 16, just forget it, the designers seemed to say. You don’t deserve our clothes.

This punishing attitude no longer has sway. If indeed that’s what was going on. At the Neiman.Marcus.com sale, along with many others, Michael Kors, Jean-Paul Gaultier, and Escada are all making XL. AND the Gaultier goes up to XXL.

This is not an advertisement. The clothes easily within an academic’s budget tend to go when the sale starts, though you might still find some now. Similarly for the non-pretentious clothes which are just very well made.

BUT at least larger women, i.e., more normal sized women, are now recognized by the fashion industry. One possible cause for shame is at least mitigated.

 

Publishing less December 13, 2013

Filed under: academia,bias,gender,politics,Uncategorized,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 5:48 am

 
From The Scientist
 

… researchers from Indiana University, the University of Montreal, and the University of Quebec have looked at citations across [science]disciplines by gender and demonstrated that female scientists publish less and receive fewer citations than their male counterparts around the world. The analysis was published as a comment in Nature this week (December 11).

The team classified authorship by gender for over 27 million authors of nearly 5.5 million papers published between 2008 and 2012. They found that in the majority of countries—including the U.S., U.K., Japan, Canada, and China—women published less than half as often as men. In countries with fewer total papers, women contributed more equally. The researchers also examined collaborations and found that women did not have has many international collaborations as men did, and that papers with women as first or last author received fewer citations than papers with men as first or last author.

As they note, those with well funded large labs could expect to have a high number of publications. But the lower rate of publication for women might have other explanations. Perhaps women’s experience leads some of us to expect people are not going to be particularly interested in what we have to say. Or perhaps some of us occupy a less standard stance, which makes our work less easily acceptable. Or perhaps in philosophy women publish just as much as men do.

What do you think?

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and the bad isms of prejudice. December 12, 2013

Filed under: academia,bias,gender,human rights,politics,race,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 11:45 pm

The bad isms are racism, sexism, ageism, etc, etc.  There is a lot of recent work on how to combat biases of these kinds, particularly implicit ones, of which their possessors are not aware, or are only slightly aware.  Leverhulme, for example, generously funded 4 workshops at Sheffield on the topic.

Cognitive Behavioral Theory could also be seen as addressing biases in one’s thinking.  It is also, apparently, empirically tested and quite successful.  Plus, it also often comes with great little handbooks.

Particularly attracted to the idea of developing a handbook, I’ve been wondering whether anyone has ever tried to do a CBT version for racism, etc.  (I’m assuming a technique not identical to plagiarism could make the handbook development easier than it might be if one were starting from scratch.)

Do you know of anyone who has tried to develop CBT for racism, sexism?

The state of Texas, and no doubt many other states and countries, have something like mandated workbooks for these things, which are on the web in the form of exams.  These are worthless, really.  What will you get if you give the same test to 800 faculty?  Lots and lots of copying.

 

Women in Media in 2013 December 5, 2013

Some progress, but a lot of room for positive change.

  

 

A discussion of women, philosophy and more December 4, 2013

Filed under: academia,gender,politics,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 12:51 am

Readers here might be interested in this discussion on Brian Leiter’s reports blog.

 

How to dress for success at the APA conference in Dec

Filed under: academia,gender,politics,Uncategorized,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 12:45 am

It is hard to know quite what to do, and even what to advise someone to do.  So we should be grateful to twentytwowords.com.  They have compiled a large number of stock photos with images of strong successful women.   I think a black suit may be very important, especially if you want to look like one of these images.

Have a look.

 

 

Women MPs should ‘toughen up’. November 29, 2013

Filed under: hostile workplace,politics,Uncategorized — axiothea @ 7:42 am

Melissa Kite, in yesterday’s Guardian describes women who leave UK politics as a result of bullying by their male colleagues as ‘shrinking violets’.

There is some victim blaming in the article:

The problem is not that male politicians can be childish and offensive, but that today’s female politicians don’t seem to know how to handle them.

And a suggestion that women who can’t handle bullying in parliament are lacking not just in insensitivity, but in political conviction:

Ultimately, politics requires women with hides like rhinos, women who are sufficiently on fire with conviction to stand up and fight.

The reference to Mo Mowlam’s staying tough when she was called fat during her cancer treatment is particularly distasteful, suggesting, as it does, that if Mo had backed down then, she wouldn’t have been tough enough and worthy of being an MP.

 

Feminists as a group of elite white women: How have we contributed? October 19, 2013

Filed under: academia,gender,politics,race,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 7:07 pm

What happened?  The wave of feminism starting in the 60’s and 70’s was so full of promise.  How could we possibly have become – or become know as – a group working largely for the interests of elite white women?

Nearly everything in the second sentence above is contestable, but surely something has gone wrong.  For example, many of us find our female students do not identify as feminists, even though they accept feminism’s basic commitment to equal rights for women.  And a fair number of women of color feel we’ve either dumped them or just never noticed them.

Whenever I’ve been part of a discussion of this problem, we seem to end up focused on one or both of two things:  (1) our agenda is not broad and inclusive enough, and (2) we are not good at promoting/advertising ourselves.  In a recent Guardian article, Nancy Fraser sees feminism’s failures in terms of more foundational problems.  The title, “How feminism became capitalism’s handmaiden – and how to reclaim it” gives one a hint at what she’ll say.

Among many other things, Fraser sees feminism as having made some very crucial mistakes; over all

we can now see that the movement for women’s liberation pointed simultaneously to two different possible futures. In a first scenario, it prefigured a world in which gender emancipation went hand in hand with participatory democracy and social solidarity; in a second, it promised a new form of liberalism, able to grant women as well as men the goods of individual autonomy, increased choice, and meritocratic advancement. Second-wave feminism was in this sense ambivalent. Compatible with either of two different visions of society, it was susceptible to two different historical elaborations.

As I see it, feminism’s ambivalence has been resolved in recent years in favour of the second, liberal-individualist scenario – but not because we were passive victims of neoliberal seductions. On the contrary, we ourselves contributed three important ideas to this development.

1.  Combatting the idea of the family wage in a way that’s left us with two career families, usually underpaid, as  necessity.

“Neoliberalism turns a sow’s ear into a silk purse by elaborating a narrative of female empowerment. Invoking the feminist critique of the family wage to justify exploitation, it harnesses the dream of women’s emancipation to the engine of capital accumulation”

2.  Substituting identity/gender politics for class-oriented politics.

“In the era of state-organised capitalism, we rightly criticised a constricted political vision that was so intently focused on class inequality that it could not see such “non-economic” injustices as domestic violence, sexual assault and reproductive oppression. Rejecting “economism” and politicising “the personal”, feminists broadened the political agenda to challenge status hierarchies premised on cultural constructions of gender difference.”

3.  Objecting to the paternalistic government/welfare state that have left us with an attack on all welfare.

“Finally, feminism contributed a third idea to neoliberalism: the critique of welfare-state paternalism. Undeniably progressive in the era of state-organised capitalism, that critique has since converged with neoliberalism’s war on “the nanny state” and its more recent cynical embrace of NGOs.”

Her critique is presented swiftly, and there is lots to discuss.   One thing we might worry about especially now when the profession as a whole is starting to notice that the women are missing, is whether we will end up leaving professional philosophy essentially unaltered by feminist values.  Anyone for status hierarchies?

{Thanks to JT}

 

The fun ‘we’ can have when political correctness is not spoiling everything October 11, 2013

Filed under: bias,gender,politics — annejjacobson @ 4:47 pm

The most recent instant of the “having to be PC is spoiling everything” complaint? I came across one yesterday when I followed a ping back to this blog. So let’s look at that sentiment in light of a very recent case from the French Parliament, which could certainly use a few lessons in PC for some of its members.



Now isn’t that fun? Of course, women in effect are not allowed to participate in the political process fully, but that certainly does not disturb the perpetrators it seems. Perhaps lessons in empathy would also be useful.

 

 
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