Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Code of Conduct Discussion July 15, 2014

Filed under: academia,improving the climate — philodaria @ 3:49 pm

In an article on Inside Higher Ed.

“As teachers, mentors and colleagues, we, professional philosophers, take our tasks of teaching, research, and service to the profession very seriously,” Eleonore Stump, professor of philosophy at Saint Louis University, and Helen De Cruz, a postdoctoral fellow in philosophy at the University of Oxford, wrote in their petition. “We want to create a supportive environment where fellow faculty members and students feel safe and where their concerns are heard and addressed.”

Amy Ferrer, executive director of the association, responded to the petitioners in a statement they posted on their web page. In her response, Ferrer said that members of the association’s Board of Officers, “like so many others in the profession, are deeply troubled by incidents of harassment and other misconduct that have recently come to light. We want members to know that we take professional ethics very seriously.”

. . . The eight-member task force, made up of professors from institutions across the U.S. and Canada, is expected to provide a progress report to the philosophical association’s board in November. Discussions – which will mainly be internal – are just beginning, but the task force announcement already has prompted a range of reactions.

Inside Higher Ed


Dialectica statistics: 12% of submissions by women July 14, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — KateNorlock @ 7:44 pm

From Philipp Blum (see comments on his related post on Daily Nous):

Dialectica, funded in 1947 by Gaston Bachelard, Paul Bernays and Ferdinand Gonseth, is a general philosophy journal published by Blackwell-Wiley. It is edited in Switzerland, publishes predominantly systematic and theoretical philosophy and aims to become the best journal on the European Continent. Since 2000, it practices double-blind refereeing and blind editing. We have recently updated our submission statistics (since 2000) and would like to share the following information, of possible interest to the feminist community:

- In 2013, we published 28 articles and a total of 611 pages (549 excluding commissioned book reviews),
- Of 298 articles submitted in 2013, 34 were accepted, which gives an acceptance rate of 11.41 %.
- Our turn-around time is reasonably quick (median of 3 months) and our backlog is small (currently accepted papers are published in 4/2014).
- Currently, about 12% of our submissions are authored by women.  This has been constant over the last 14 years and is surprising and worrying. What could explain this fact? What should be done about it?

(The acceptance rate of female submissions in 2013 (16%), however, is higher than the one of male submissions (14%). This has also been constant over the last 14 years.)

According to Sally Haslanger, in 2013 31.4% of philosophy PhDs in the US were earned by women. According to Kathryn Norlock, as many as 21% of employed philosophers in the US are women. The BPA-SWIPUK report for 2008-2011 says that in the UK 29% of philosophy PhDs were completed by women and that they are 24% of permanent staff.

The full statistics are available here:


Discrimination is Un-Christian Too

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennysaul @ 5:56 am

The awesome Kathryn Pogin, writing in The Stone.

Much to the chagrin of women’s rights advocates, Hobby Lobby has won its legal battle — but claims of “victory” for religious freedom must be emended. Make no mistake: This is no victory for the freedom to exercise Christian principles. Though employers like Hobby Lobby are now free to deny women access to contraceptives through their employer-subsidized health plans on the basis of religious objection, they will be violating their own purported Christian principles if they do. While Christians are not compelled by their faith to engage in religious practices that impose upon the freedoms of others, they are compelled — by their belief that all persons, men and women, are created in the image of God — to oppose discrimination.


A Reply to “The Gender Academy”

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.


What to do next? July 13, 2014

Filed under: human rights,Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 9:56 pm

In Houston, Texas, on a hot July afternoon, I pulled up to a light on Westheimer, a three or four lane street. I was in the left turning lane, next to a small island. A woman on the island came up to my window; she was in an invalid’s walker/semi-wheel-chair and help up a sign saying something about may I be blessed this day.

I usually have some dollar bills in a compartment in the driver’s armrest, but my car had just spent a week being repaired and I may have emptied the compartment first, or maybe someone else did. I couldn’t find anything. Since she had waited while I searched, I wanted to give her something. I reached in my bag while knowing that I had just been to an atm and all I’d find were $20 bills. So I gave her one.

She reacted roughly the way one would react finding one had just won a significant grant. Much shouting, hand-waving, feet-kicking, etc. It seemed actually joyous, and I was very surprised. My first thought was that I had to do more.

Since then I have wondered what more I could do. I think it is unlikely that I could find her again, since people asking for money in the streets outside the center of Houston don’t seem to have turf they claim. In fact, some are driven to changing locations, and almost no one strolls around in the 8000 block of Westheimer in July. And even if I could, I doubt I’d be able to help much for various reasons.

So I thought about what a good thing it is that our Mayor has cut the homeless rate by about 50% in her two years in office. Giving to charities who help our street people seems more imperative somehow.


Map for the Gap: UK call for collaborators

Filed under: Uncategorized — KateNorlock @ 7:09 pm

To interested academic philosophers in the UK:

In order to examine and address issues of participation faced by minority and underrepresented groups in academic philosophy (e.g. gender, race, native-language, sexual orientation, class, and disability minorities), a number of UK departments have recently started to build a UK network of chapters of Map For the Gap.

With 24 active chapters to date, MAP (Minorities And Philosophy) is already a successful and widespread organization in the US and elsewhere. If you would like to have a MAP chapter at your own institution, this Call For Collaborators is for you. MAP chapters are generally run by graduate students (typically 3 or 4 per department), with some help from academic staff members; undergraduate participation is also encouraged.

At this stage we would be happy to hear especially from graduate students (groups or individuals) at UK Philosophy departments as well as from UK Philosophy academic staff who would like to coordinate graduate student interest in their institutions. Please contact Filippo Contesi ( filippo.contesi at gmail dot com ).


Yena Lee (MAP Director) & Filippo Contesi (MAP UK Director)


Another heartbreaking case of sexual assault gone viral July 12, 2014

Filed under: rape,sexual assault,social media — philodaria @ 7:34 pm

You can read about it here, and here. Jada’s bravery in coming forward is moving beyond words.


On Mitigating Bias in a Job Search July 11, 2014

Filed under: academic job market,bias — jennysaul @ 2:08 pm

I write a lot about implicit bias, and about how we should all be taking steps to mitigate it. I’m also Head of Department. So when I was placed in the position of hiring for two permanent posts, I decided to take the opportunity to put in place what seemed to me, based on what I know about implicit bias, to be the best practises. It went remarkably well, so I thought I’d report on what we did, and how and why we did it. And also on some of the difficulties, because it wasn’t QUITE as smooth as it could have been.

1. What we had candidates send: Anonymised CV and writing sample, with identifying information on a detachable cover sheet. In keeping with widespread UK practise, we only asked for names of referees at this stage, not references.


a. Detachable cover sheet only actually makes sense if these things are going to be printed out, and if they’re not being submitted electronically. I’m not sure why I asked for it, but I wouldn’t do it again. For electronic documents, removing it is a tedious bit of editing. Just ask for anonymised CV and writing sample.

b. Candidates weren’t always sure what was meant by ‘anonymised’ or ‘identifying information’. Some worried they should leave off their publications, or place of PhD, or employment. Much better to put in brief clarification of what to leave in. [What we actually wanted left off was just name and email.]

c. The e-recruitment system sticks candidates names into the file names of every file downloaded by those on the committee, adding *another* bit of anonymisation to do. Unless you have a system which doesn’t do this, you’ll need a bit of administrative help retitling all of these. (And we really should advocate for systems that don’t do this!)

It IS vital to have a bit of administrative help– someone who can check to make sure that everything actually is anonymised, who can also write assign numbers to the candidates and keep a list of name-number pairings.

2. How we long-listed: We long-listed on the basis of CV alone, to get down to 15-30 candidates. Our focus was primarily on meeting area needs and publication record.

3. After long-listing, we read anonymised writing samples. We also sent away for references. This decision was the subject of debate. I favoured waiting until we’d shortlisted, because of well-documented biases in reference-writing, and also because of national differences (e.g. US references are MUCH more glowing than UK ones). However, some wanted references to be used in shortlisting. Our compromise was to have references sent to a special email account, to which committee members would only be given access a couple of days before the shortlisting meeting. At that point, they were also given access to the name-number pairings.

4. How we shortlisted: Shortlisting was based on full information: CV, writing sample and references. Fascinatingly, though, even those who had advocated the use of references in shortlisting found them to be not of much interest after close examination of CV and writing sample. All felt that use of references had in the past been a merely apparently useful short-cut, which probably served to short-circuit proper consideration of more significant information. We also found that in many cases we had failed to recognise the written work of those we actually knew, so the anonymity had worked remarkably well.

You might wonder why we didn’t anonymise references. One reason is that it’s a lot of work– need to eliminate every occurrence of name or gendered pronoun. Another is that if a reference is anonymised you can’t try to take into account the tendency for referees to e.g. describe women as ‘hard-working’ and men as ‘brilliant’.

5. How we hired: Our process is a long one by UK standards and a short one by US standards. The main events are job talk (1.5 hours, including discussion) and interview, though there are also a couple of meals. The most important bias-fighting measure I took at this stage was in the discussion of each candidate post-interview. I did not allow overall gestalt evaluations or comparative evaluations until the very end. Instead, we agreed a list of topics we would discuss about each candidate in turn. I listed these on a whiteboard to make sure they got covered in every case. We carefully distinguished such things as written work, job talk, and discussion period so as not to give any of these undue weight. (There’s a good case to be made that written work is a better indication of research ability than job talk under immensely stressful conditions, including in many cases stereotype threat. Yet nonetheless it’s all too easy to focus more on job talk.) Only after each candidate was discussed in detail did we turn to comparative judgements. This lead to much richer and more useful discussion than I’d experienced before in such circumstances (and I’ve lost count of the number of hiring committees I’ve been on!). In both cases, we had very strong fields, and therefore extremely difficult decisions to make. But we all felt that this process helped enormously in making these decisions.


SWIP archive up and running!

Filed under: Uncategorized — KateNorlock @ 1:17 pm

Here is the webpage for instructions as to donation of SWIP records and organizational material to the new archive of the Society of Women in Philosophy.  From Ann Garry:

We want to direct your attention to a new philosophy archive that is now open to receive donations. *The Society for Women in Philosophy (SWIP) Records.* The Society for Women in Philosophy (SWIP) Records Collection of the Feminist Theory Archive at Brown University welcomes material related to the history of this important grass-roots philosophy organization. This archive will make available to scholars in every discipline, to future generations of philosophy students, and to the general public records of the activities and concerns of all the divisions of SWIP. SWIP has functioned for more than four decades as a “laboratory” for philosophical engagements that have transformed and diversified the projects and processes of the discipline of philosophy. This work has also made significant contributions to the development of feminist thinking in other fields and thus to intellectual history and public policy more generally.
The Steering Committee wants to thank Christina Rawls and Samantha Noll for their work that enabled the project to get off the ground. Let me also add that Joan Callahan and Sandra Harding have done much of the heavy lifting on it this year!

Ann Garry for the Steering Committee


Joan Callahan
Ann Garry
Sandra Harding
Alison Jaggar

Sometimes two negative stereotypes can conflict, with perhaps surprising results July 10, 2014

Filed under: academia,bias,gender,human rights,race — annejjacobson @ 11:15 pm

Thanks to Shen-yi Liao’s comment on this post.

The Positive Consequences of Negative Stereotypes
Race, Sexual Orientation, and the Job Application Process
David S. Pedulla1

1Department of Sociology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
David S. Pedulla, Department of Sociology, Princeton University, 107 Wallace Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA. Email: dpedulla@princeton.edu

How do marginalized social categories, such as being black and gay, combine with one another in the production of discrimination? While much extant research assumes that combining marginalized social categories results in a “double disadvantage,” I argue that in the case of race and sexual orientation the opposite may be true. This article posits that stereotypes about gay men as effeminate and weak will counteract common negative stereotypes held by whites that black men are threatening and criminal. Thus, I argue that being gay will have negative consequences for white men in the job application process, but that being gay will actually have positive consequences for black men in this realm. This hypothesis is tested using data from a survey experiment in which respondents were asked to evaluate resumes for a job opening where the race and sexual orientation of the applicants were experimentally manipulated. The findings contribute to important theoretical debates about stereotypes, discrimination, and intersecting social identities.



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