On women in philosophy – stats and other blogging

Thanks to Esa for the following links to other blogging about women in philosophy:
Report of the APA session on women in philosophy on Berit Brogaard’s blog here.

Some further (and rather controversial) discussion on the topic of women in philsophy can be found on Weatherson’s blog here and also here.

The Haslanger paper that is discussed can be found here.

6 thoughts on “On women in philosophy – stats and other blogging

  1. There are so many issues related to the under-representation of women in philosophy that I can’t even begin to address them here. But I will mention one. In reading job application files as well as files for graduate school admission, I have noticed an extremely small percentage of women are included in the pool to begin with. It is rather shocking to me how few women, in fact, are applying to our M.A. program at this point, and I have heard from at least one other M.A. program that they are experiencing the same trend. (I’m talking about something like 3 out of 50 applicants.) Perhaps women undergraduates are all applying to Ph.D. programs, but I tend to doubt it. In addition, in reading both sets of files, I have noticed that the letters for female candidates are far more likely to mention aspects of their personality than letters for male candidates. A typical thing that is said concerns the women job applicant’s strengths in teaching (implying she is weak in research); or, terms used to describe the research are never quite as strong as for male candidates–it is never cutting edge, ground-breaking, brilliant, etc. In the case of graduate school applicants, the female student is often described as unusually socially adept, e.g., the “spark plug” of the Philosophy Club, a wonderful presence in the department student lounge, etc. etc. I don’t think that male writers or readers of such letters are very likely to notice such discrepancies, but they really stood out to me in the last go-round. It is as if the women students are not quite seen as being in the same game as the men students, or not assessed by the same standards. I find this quite frustrating, and it’s occurred to me to write to some of the letter-writers for these students to point out what they are doing, but I am hesitant to do so (for a variety of reasons).
    More later.

  2. Interesting. This trend in letter-writing is one of the things Haslanger points out in her paper. I do wonder what the right thing to do is. Certainly one thing is to try to make *everyone* aware of this– both letter writers and letter readers, and not just those who read feminist philosophy and go to meetings of the Committee on the Status of Women. But it’s not really clear to me how to do this.

  3. Apparently what Freeland says about lettes applies generally to letters of reference. I’ve seen a study on letters for medical school graduates and they show the same bias.

    There are at least two problems with getting faculty to change: first, having an effective advocate within a department. second, getting profs, particularly male profs, to admit they are or have a problem.

  4. I guess a cross-post to something like Leiter or TAR might help out with raising awareness re these issues about letter writing.

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