A reader requested some discussion of how best to run seminars in such as way as to make female students feel maximally comfortable. Are there any “rules” that people mention to the students, beyond the usual suspects (let people finish talking, don’t dominate the discussion, be charitable etc.) Or any other tips and tricks?
Reader query: negative VS positive papers March 14, 2013
A reader writes:
I have recently learned that some grad students in my department hold the following belief: journals are more likely to reject papers that advance a ‘negative’ argument and provide a response to some well-known view than a paper that advances a ‘positive’ account of some phenomenon. That is, even if editors receive a positive referee’s report that recommends publication of a (roughly put) response article, editors still frequently reject such articles in order to publish ones with a “positive” account. Thus, grad students have been put off from submitting papers to journals, as they have felt this to be futile: I don’t yet have a positive alternative account of x, so submitting a paper that discusses someone else’s a view of x is futile, because it’ll get rejected anyway.
Thinking so struck me as prima facie false. Plenty of response papers are published by top journals (my own work being a case in point). But hearing this also got me worried: is there something to this? I always advice my grad students to start by publishing ‘negative’ parts of their dissertations first, but if the above view has something to it, my practice may be misguided. Then again, if the above is false, grad students need to know that. What do you think?
Query From a Reader: Dismissive Comments March 10, 2013
A colleague of a reader recently circulated one of my papers on women in philosophy around her department. It’s been my experience that people usually respond well to the empirical data and the non-blamey tone. (Though maybe that’s just how they respond *to me* and they say other things when I’m not there.) Anyway, this time a more senior colleague responded with dismissive mockery. Any thoughts on how to deal with this?
Reader query: sexist lecturer January 25, 2013
A reader writes:
I’m taking an ethics course in college right now. One of the chapters deals with feminist ethics. I’m really disappointing in my instructor, as he wrote the book and clearly has issues with feminists.
He brings up the ridiculous assumption (and supposed “facts”) that women can’t make ethical decisions, that we are inferior to men in the morals department, and that we can never be moral or ethical due to the differences in our brain structure…
What do I do? I don’t know if you answer questions like this, but I could really use the help. I have a bad feeling the other women in this course will just go along with what the book says.
Any reliable sources debunking this garbage?
Proper source for Jesse Jackson anecdote? January 9, 2013
There’s an anecdote about Jesse Jackson that’s often mentioned in discussions of implicit bias– involves him feeling nervous about footsteps behind him, then feeling relieved that the person is white. I’ve just had this query about it, and I’m wondering if one of you can help!
My question is this: do you have a source for the quotation? It’s not hard to find it online, but nailing the origin is harder. St John and Heald-Moore attribute it to Newsweek on 13th December 1993, but it’s not there; others trace it to the Chicago Sun Times, also from late 1993 – but I can’t find an electronic edition of that.
When they ask the interview questions that they’re not supposed to…. December 7, 2012
What do you say? A reader writes:
I’m on the job market this year. If I’m lucky enough to get interviews, I’m wondering if anyone has any advice about how to handle questions that people aren’t supposed to ask, such as if I’m married, if I have kids, if my husband would be willing to relocated, etc. I fell I can’t say it’s none of their business and still get a job offer. Is there a way to deflect these questions if they come up?
This is a really tough question. Obviously one answer might be “that question is illegal” or “none of your damned business”. But of course this may be unwise– either because you really need this job or because the person asking might be decent and good despite their cluelessness (I definitely know people like this). What do you all think?
Reader Query: Gender and Robots December 4, 2012
A reader writes:
I am looking for some literature on gender and robots for a course I am teaching in the spring. Do you (or does anyone) know of readings appropriate for undergraduate students which address either (1) why gender assignments of human beings matter/the ways in which they direct us in ordering the world or (2)issues relating to assigning gender to robots, machines and other items which don’t seem to require or have a gender?
Teaching evaluations December 3, 2012
A reader writes:
There is ample evidence that implicit bias skews course evaluations to the disadvantage of minorities and women–particularly unattractive women. Some time back I recall someone at this site remarked that she was told that the surest way to improve one’s evaluations was to lose 20 pounds. And it’s true.
Course evaluations are mandatory at my university and the plan now is to switch to online evaluations the results of which will go directly to administrators. Currently in my department at least tenured faculty don’t have to submit evaluations to their chair or other administrators. I never have.
I’d like to (1) compare notes about policies at other universities regarding course evaluations and (2) make the case that this use of evaluations should be resisted. It is a plain empirical fact that assessing women on the basis of evaluations puts us at a disadvantage–particularly if we’re unattractive.
I hope someone at this site can write on this. Setting up what is in effect a university-sponsored ratemyprofessor.com is detrimental to the interests of women, minorities, and unattractive people in the profession, it sends the message to students that going over instructors’ heads to the bosses is appropriate behavior, and it undermines the professional autonomy of all faculty.
This seems an excellent topic to discuss. Do put your thoughts in comments!
Reader query: women in continental philosophy November 21, 2012
A reader has contacted me, noting that analytic philosophers often imagine continental philosophy to be much friendlier to women, but that women continental philosophers often report very bad experiences. She’s wondering– and I am too– if there is any good source of information on the situation for women specifically in continental philosophy.