As some of you may know, in the US many philosopers tend to get their jobs by applying for interviews at a large annual meeting of the American Philosphical Association. There are sometimes as many as three hundred positions up for grabs, and for those trying to get jobs, the whole process of applying and interviewing is fraught and unpleasant. This year, this experience has been chartered, in blog form, by some anonymous grad students(see here).
Much of the blog is amusing, often well observed, and highlights just how looking for a job in philosophy affects you (it sends you crazy). Some of the recent posts have started to look at just what it means to be a women or a minority going through the APA job market. Indeed, they even talk about Sally Haslanger’s recent paper on women in philosophy. The most interesting posts are this one, and this one. Sadly, part of what is interesting about them is the comments they generate.
What you find is a lot of white male philosophers – presumably grad students looking for jobs – complaining that women and minorities who get these jobs are doing so purely by dint of their gender or race and at the expense of their more qualified white male counterparts (“Its reverse discrimination I tell ya”). In one or two cases, people name black philosophers at top institutions, decry the value of their work and openly suggest that the person holds that post purely because they’re black, and it looks good if the department is ethnically diverse. You will even find the term “I’m not racist, but…”. And of course there is the age old “girls can’t do metaphysics” plum – the real reason women aren’t getting jobs easily and need “reverse discrimination” to help them out is because hard-core philosophy is abstract, and women prefer things with material results.
Don’t get me wrong, plenty of commenters point out how sexist and racist this all is, and there is alway trolling to take into account, but all the same, I can’t help feeling a bit depressed by it. We know things were bad for women and minorities in philosophy thirty or more years ago. We also know from Sally Haslanger’s paper that they aren’t all that good now. But reading some of the comments coming from those that aspire to staff philosophy departments for the next thirty years, the future doesn’t look all that rosey either.
I’m probably just over-reacting. But have a look at the comments and see what you think.