Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Yes, sexual harassment is a thing October 21, 2014

Filed under: sexual harassment,women in philosophy — philodaria @ 4:02 pm

Those who read Robert Hanna’s response to being named in the recent CHE article regarding the situation at CU-Boulder, may have also read his paper that he links to in that response, Sexual McCarthyism, Polyamory, and the First Amendment (if you don’t understand the relationship between those concepts named in the title, you’re not alone–neither did I). Here is an illuminating snippet:

In professional academics, we are now, sadly, in an era of sexual McCarthyism. . . Notice how the phrase “sexual harassment” sounds a lot like “sexual assault” and non-rationally evokes the same moral disgust as the latter phrase, even though the phrases actually mean very different things. But the non-rational emotional association with the ugly phrase “sexual assault” is no doubt precisely why the sexual McCarthyites chose the equally ugly phrase “sexual harassment,” and not, e.g., “romantic relationship troubles.” Indeed, sexual McCarthyites like to talk about “victims” of “sexual harassment precisely because in fact there are no such people as “victims” of romantic relationship troubles–there are just people in all their multifarious peculiarity, having the all-too-familiar romantic relationship troubles with each other — but they want to evoke, non-rationally, the impression that there are such victims.

To be clear, sexual harassment is a thing, and it is not the same thing as ‘romantic relationship troubles.’ For one, ‘romantic relationship troubles’ presupposes the existence of a romantic relationship, and sexual harassment often happens outside the context of any relationship (cf. street harassment), let alone a romantic one. For two, just as an example, sending colleagues unwanted emails soliciting sexual interactions would be sexually harassing, but not an instance of romantic relationship troubles even if you have romantic feelings towards them. Why? Because if your colleagues do not want to be in a romantic or sexual relationship with you, regardless of your desires, there is no sense in which this a problem with your romantic relationship to them–namely, because you do not have one.

As an interesting matter of history, ‘sexual harassment’ was not coined in order to elicit moral disgust regarding behaviors which have no victim. Quite the contrary. Susan Brownmiller recounts how the term actually came to be in In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution (reader’s of Miranda Fricker’s Epistemic Injustice will be familiar with this already, as she quotes this passage in her book):

One afternoon a former university employee sought out Lin Farley to ask for her help. Carmita Wood, age forty-four, born and raised in the apple orchard region of Lake Cayuga, and the sole support of two of her children, had worked for eight years in Cornell’s department of nuclear physics, advancing from lab assistant to a desk job handling administrative chores. Wood did not know why she had been singled out, or indeed if she had been singled out, but a distinguished professor seemed unable to keep his hands off her.

As Wood told the story, the eminent man would jiggle his crotch when he stood near her desk and looked at his mail, or he’d deliberately brush against her breasts while reaching for some papers. One night as the lab workers were leaving their annual Christmas party, he cornered her in the elevatorand planted some unwanted kisses on her mouth. After the Christmas party incident, Carmita Wood went out of her way to use the stairs in the lab building in order to avoid a repeat encounter, but the stress of the furtive molestations and her efforts to keep the scientist at a distance while maintaining cordial relations with his wife, whom she liked, brought on a host of physical symptoms. Wood developed chronic back and neck pains. Her right thumb tingled and grew numb. She requested a transfer to another department, and when it didn’t come through, she quit. She walked out the door and went to Florida for some rest and recuperation. Upon her return she applied for unemployment insurance. When the claims investigator asked why she had left her job after eight years, Wood was at a loss to describe the hateful episodes. She was ashamed and embarrassed. Under prodding—the blank on the form needed to be filled in—she answered that her reasons had been personal. Her claim for unemployment benefits was denied.

‘Lin’s students had been talking in her seminar about the unwanted sexual advances they’d encountered on their summer jobs,’ Sauvigne relates. ‘And then Carmita Wood comes in and tells Lin her story. We realized that to a person, every one of us—the women on staff, Carmita, the students—had had an experience like this at some point, you know? And none of us had ever told anyone before. It was one of those click, aha! moments, a profound revelation.’

The women had their issue. Meyer located two feminist lawyers in Syracuse, Susan Horn and Maurie Heins, to take on Carmita Wood’s unemployment insurance appeal. ‘And then…,’ Sauvigne reports, ‘we decided that we also had to hold a speak-out in order to break the silence about this.’

The ‘this’ they were going to break the silence about had no name. ‘Eight of us were sitting in an office of Human Affairs,’ Sauvigne remembers, ‘brainstorming about what we were going to write on the posters for our speak-out. We were referring to it as ‘‘sexual intimidation,’’ ‘‘sexual coercion,’’ ‘‘sexual exploitation on the job.’’ None of those names seemed quite right. We wanted something that embraced a whole range of subtle and unsubtle persistent behaviors. Somebody came up with ‘‘harassment.’’ Sexual harassment! Instantly we agreed. That’s what it was.’

 

More news on CU Boulder October 20, 2014

Filed under: sexual assault,sexual harassment,women in philosophy — philodaria @ 8:45 pm

An article in the Chronicle, and a reply from Robert Hanna.

H/T DailyNous

 

Upcoming training for the site visit program October 18, 2014

Filed under: minorities in philosophy,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 7:05 pm

The training for the site visit program will provide you with important information on assessing departmental climate, including legal issue.  Do consider signing up!

A second Site Visit Training Workshop will be held May 31, 2015 immediately following the Diversity in Philosophy Conference to be held at Villanova University, May 28-30, 2015.  To apply to participate in this workshop, please email Peggy DesAutels (peggy.desautels@gmail.com) with a paragraph describing your interest in being trained as a site visitor and an attached CV.  Spaces in the workshop are limited.

Information about the training and the program is available here.  Note the comment from the University of Miami.

 

 

The Job market and women in philosophy September 30, 2014

Filed under: jobs,women in philosophy — jennysaul @ 8:06 pm

Meena Krishnamurthy aims to start an important discussion.

….Lately there has been a lot of talk about the problems within the profession and taking action aimed at positive change. I think the job market and best practices are something that should be revisited now.

For more, go to her post.

 

COACHE: Faculty assessing their university September 14, 2014

Or: Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education.

COACHE is a product of Harvard’s School of Education. One of its main outputs is a survey that is taken by faculty and then analyzed by COACHE. As I remember, the survey gives one standard assertions such as “The administration of this university strongly supports interdisciplinary research” and then gives one an option of five answers from “agree very strongly” to “disagree very strongly”. (Or at least something much like that.) One great thing is that the score the university gets is a comparison with what are counted as peer institutions. So if your university is ranked in the bottom third in interdisciplinarity, for example, that is not simply because you have a lot of malcontents. Rather, it is because your faculty are much more negative about that feature than most of the faculty in your peers. And that becomes a problem for the university.

If you are on the job market or if the tenure decision is coming near, do think of asking if your (prospective) university has a COACHE report, and ask to see it. (Those applying to grad school may also benefit; see the next para.) At least the one for my now former university reveals two things: (1) major weaknesses and (2) differences between tenured and non-tenured (tt) points of view; see below for a remark about this. If you want to dig a bit deeper, it may also show you more general facts about the university that are holding the problems in place. In my experience the report is stunningly accurate. That is, the university ranks low on features that, to be perfectly frank, drove me crazy. The faculty, however, love the upper administration, a fact that shows a very important disconnect.

TENURED VS. NON-TENURED points of view. In my former university the tt are generally more positive than the tenured profs. It would seem easy for the tt also to be much more negative, as I would guess they are in some other places. In any case, there are contexts in which this won’t matter, and ones in which it will. If a set of discontented tt faculty have been bullied into being enthusiastic for prospective grad students, those who believe them may be in for a shock. Equally, if the tt folk are much happier than those with tenure, they may not be a good source of information about whether you should join the department as a faculty member. Now the COACHE report does not mention specific departments, so differences in these respects are really just warning signs.

The differences between tenured and tt points of view are interesting, and I don’t really know what explains them. When I was following the literature on sexism in STEM quite closely about ten years ago, it appeared that STEM women did not perceive the sexism until the tenuring process started. One can think of a number of possible reasons for this, and some of them would spread across genders and disciplines. Perhaps, for example, some senior faculty feel protective about the younger ones, and smooth things out for them a bit. Another might be that the tenured faculty may try to draw on more resources, and so discover what the weaknesses are. On the other hand, it would seem most unfortunately easy to make the tt faculty miserable, so differences in directions different from those at my university would seem to be more understandable.

 

Lori Gruen & 3am September 12, 2014

Filed under: cats,consent,critical thinking,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 6:45 pm

There is a lot to think about:

The opening para:

Lori Gruen is a leading feminist philosopher who asks deep questions about the ethics of captivity, ethics, animals and what we’re doing to nature. She thinks that human exceptionalism is a prejudice, that considering marginal cases helpful in seeing why, is skeptical about intuitions about far fetched cases digging up important ethical insights, that two big issues concerning ethics and animals are captivity and industrial animal agriculture, thinks ecotourism is complicated, has problems with holisic approaches to environmental ethics, thinks women have it tough, that the ethics of captivity are both complex and have had little philosophical treatment, that self-direction matters when considering how we treat animals, that ideas of a wild free of human management is unrealistic, and that some captivity is necessary. It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there…

And thanks to Richard Marshall for his deep questions.

 

Poverty, Agency and Human Rights – a book with lots of women September 8, 2014

Filed under: poverty,publishing,women in philosophy — axiothea @ 3:07 pm

People teaching a course on human rights or global justice may like to look at this new edited volume, Poverty, Agency, and Human Rights by Diana Tietjens Meyers  which not only has a very good gender balance, but also discusses plenty of issues in feminist philosophy.

 

 

 

And then there’s the Green Card … September 3, 2014

Filed under: academia,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 2:43 am

A frequent commenter on this blog now has a green card problem that will need assistance from a lawyer!

This page gives you an explanation of the problem and a chance to donate.

http://www.gofundme.com/dsafow

I’m advocating for a friend, and I have the sense that questions about this can certainly be raised. So look at the case for yourself and see what you think. I myself think that excellence in a beginning prof most certainly should not be wasted on green card issues.

 

AAP Gender Statement August 30, 2014

Filed under: gender,improving the climate,women in philosophy — phrynefisher @ 4:52 am

The Australasian Association of Philosophy has published what it describes as ‘the first of a series of notes that will collectively make up an AAP statement on gender’. It is available here.

 

Important observations on (lack of) diversity and boundary policing in philosophy August 29, 2014

Filed under: bias,minorities in philosophy,women in philosophy — jennysaul @ 7:16 pm

From Eric Schliesser and Bryce Huebner.

Eric:

Blacks make up just 1.32 percent of the total number of people professionally affiliated (as grad students or faculty) with U.S. philosophy departments.
Approximately 0.88 percent of U.S. philosophy Ph.D. students are black.
Approximately 4.3 percent of U.S. tenured philosophy professors are black.
Of black philosophy Ph.D. students in the U.S., half are female. That is about double the rate of the U.S. philosophy Ph.D. student population as a whole.
The distribution of black female Ph.D. students across philosophy Ph.D. programs is much lower than black males. Specifically, 69 percent of black female Ph.D. students are at Penn State.
The top areas of specialization for U.S. black philosophers are (1) Africana, (2) Race, (3) Social and Political, (4) Ethics, and (5) Continental philosophy…every time we treat the LEMM as the CORE parts of philosophy (recall) and every time we mock SPEP-style Continental philosophy, we are, in effect, also (further) marginalizing (insulting, demeaning, etc.) the majority of BIPs. Every time you are a bystander to this, you are very likely complicit to making matters worse when it comes to the status of BIPs. –

Bryce:

The kinds of critical race theory and the kind of continental philosophy that are commonly taught at Penn State are precisely the kinds of philosophy that tend to be dismissed, rejected, and marginalized by philosophers working at fancier institutions. Assuming that there is a stable practice of treating this kind of work as “not really philosophy,” we should expect these judgments to serve a gatekeeping function, keeping Black women out of academic philosophy, or at least keeping them from getting jobs at the ‘best’ PhD granting institutions.

 

 
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