Gender Tutorials: Causes and Cures

 I was reminded yesterday of Virginia Valian’s Gender Tutorials at a Hunter College web site.  All of them are worth going through; the second and third are especially imporant for understanding gender schemas and their effects, even effects on how one judges oneself. 

The 4th tutorial is about what you – students – can do.  I don’t think it is all right.  For one thing, she starts out by telling you that you’ll encounter a receptive environment if you suggest changes.  Well, maybe  in the sciences (tho’Mr JJ says “no”), but philosophy is thousands of years old, and I can tell you, a lot of people do not like new ideas.  BUT there are  some useful ideas about trying to improve the environment.  For example, TAs can ask the professor to introduce them to students in a way that increases confidence  all around.  Just the presence of more women helps, so you can ask that women be invited to give talks.  (She doesn’t say this, but I’d have some names in mind, and maybe even a list with some accomplishments mentioned.)

There are more ideas.  So see what you think!

Girls innately bad at math? Nope.

A new study suggests that lower girls’ math scores result from lower status in society more generally. The cross-cultural study reveals that:

Globally, boys tend to outperform girls in maths (on average girls score 10.5 points lower than boys) but in more “gender equal societies” such as Iceland, Sweden and Norway, girls scored as well as boys or better.

For example, the maths gender gap almost disappeared in Sweden, while in Turkey girls scored 23 points below boys in maths.

Average girls’ scores improved as equality improved and the number of girls reaching the highest levels of performance also increased, the researchers found.

Girls outperformed boys in reading everywhere, but even more so in places with greater gender equality:

On average, girls have reading scores that are 32.7 points higher than those of boys (6.6% higher than the mean average score for boys). In Turkey, this amounts to 25.1 points higher, and in Iceland, girls score 61.0 points higher.

Researchers conclude:

Sapienza said: “Our research indicates that in more gender equal societies, girls will gain an absolute advantage relative to boys.”

I must say I’m just as sceptical about claims of girls’ innate superiority as I am regarding claims of their innate inferiority. And just as disturbed. Still, this is fascinating stuff, and clearly bears more investigation.

One thing I wonder about is how ‘gender equality’ of an overall society is measured, and the exact details of how it’s realised in different societies– as well as details of their educational systems. Sadly, I don’t have time to go read the article right now! So if you do, please tell us about it.

“Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”**


And here it is:  The AAUP’s the “2007-08 Report on the Economic Status of the Profession“. For those who don’t want to pore thru the whole thing, here are the “highlights”. Enjoy! ***


Have you been wondering whether you’re fairly paid compared  to the guys?  Whether women are fairly represented?  What happened to all those who don’t identify happily as one or the other?  Have you really, really, wondered?  After all, you should have been able to predict these answers:  No.  No.  Everyone is male or female.


But have a look.  Warning:  the details are depressing. !

**Thanks to Percy Bysshe Shelley

***hat tip to the PJMB

The Analytic/Continental Divide, II

This morning I was fairly happily going through a big book of essays by analytic philosophers writing on THE philosophy of perception.  It turns out, editors Gendler and Hawthorne tell us,  that “much contemporary discussion of perceptual experience can be traced to two observations.  The first is that perception seems to put us in direct contact with the world around us: …The second is that perceptual experience may fail to provide such knowledge.”

Then I got the table of contents from The Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology.  And I thought perhaps we should revisit Jender’s interesting remarks about analytic and continental.

So here are the essays, followed by reviews.  Calcagno’s topic might, I think, been related to the analytic books’ discussion on intentionality, so I looked up “Michel Henry.”  And something in David Woods entry make me think I might find that close to analytic, do I went to look at what he had to say.  I’ve put the two pages below the lists.  I want to suggest, though, that the analytic is far away from, and the continental looks like  might get closer to what we might think of as second-stage cognitive neuroscience.  So far my favorite short statement comes from Read Montague and Stephen Quarts:

… [E]arly investigators thought that the really important problem was to find the functions or computations being implemented by the brain independent of the specifics of their implementation using biological components. This view is now seen as impoverished because as structures constructed by evolution, most creatures are tightly woven into particular environmental and social niches, and are the ’answers’ to manifold questions posed by their environs.  (My stress.)

Roughly, cognitive neuroscience is looking at well-functioning vision where this means vision that is aiding flourishing within one’s niche.  Analytic philosophy has a much more static and individualistic interest in the truth-makers of perceptual statements.  A hypothesis that might capture the difference is that continental philosophy is likewise more interested at least in the process of life as lived.  At least sometimes.

Michel Henry’s Non-Intentionality Thesis and Husserl’s Phenomenology

Giorgio Agamben, Gilles Deleuze and the ‘Idea of Language’ in the Synthesis
of ‘Being’ 

The Virtual and the Ether: Transcendental Empiricism in Kant’s Opus Postumum

Aletheia and Heidegger’s Transitional Readings of Plato’s Cave Allegory

The Wholly Other: Being and the Last God in Heidegger’s Contributions to

Fixing Marx with Machiavelli: Claude Lefort’s Democratic Turn



Lars Iyer: Blanchot’s Vigilance: Literature, Phenomenologyand the Ethical,
by Thomas Carl Wall

Jacques Derrida: Sovereignities in Question. The Poetics of Paul Celan, by
Gabrielle Hiltmann
Alan D. Schrift: Twentieth-Century French Philosophy: Key Themes and
Thinkers, by John Mullarkey 

José Medina and David Wood: Truth: Engagements Across Philosophical
Traditions, by Paul Grosch

Dennis J. Schmidt: Lyrical and Ethical Subjects: Essays on the Periphery of
the Word, Freedom, and History, by Lars Iyer



Ruud Welten © 2001

Phenomenology and the Prohibition of Images

in Emmanuel Levinas and Jean-Luc Marion



.          ………

In the first section of this part, the antagonism between the idol and the icon, as elaborated in Marion’s God without Being, is examined. The idol fixes the gaze, whereas the icon is experienced without subjective fixation. The idol is analysed, in Husserlian language, as a type of intentional fulfillment. Before exploring the notion of the icon as a ‘perfect inversion’ of the intentionality of the idol, the question of visibility and invisibility in relation to art and visual culture is studied. This is studied in relation to a phenomenological interpretation of the ‘norm’ for the icon as given in Colossians 1:15 wherein Christ is described as ‘the image of the invisible God’. The philosophy of Michel Henry offers a framework for considering invisibility phenomenologically. The quest for religious art is elaborated through a comparison of Marion and Henry. Marion’s thinking on invisibility, which is based on the formula given in Colossians, has consequences for his view of the world and its visibility. This view is compared to Heidegger’s thoughts on ‘worldview’ (Weltbild).


Comments by David Wood Interview by William McClure, Sydney, November 2001

WM Would you say that you are obsessed by “time”?

DW Yes, I am. And it is, I suspect, characteristic of everyone’s obsession that it seems to them wholly reasonable to be so obsessed. It is, famously, possible not to think much about time at all. Or, if one does, to be neurotically obsessed, for example, with being ‘on time’, or with the efficient use of time etc. I am not obsessed in that way at all. There are those who are morbidly concerned with their own mortality. Not me. My ‘obsession’ is best described as a reflective fascination with the way time is woven into everything we do and care about. Sometimes this has to do with the way things take time to develop, how things unfurl in time – such a relationship, or the way a child grows up. But time also operates as a constant dimension of virtual existence. The significance of our lives is tied to the ways in which we brood on, or build on the past, and the way we imagine, fear, or plan for the future. And the ways in which, as we say, we ‘live for the present’. To be, like me – obsessively curious about time, and fascinated with time – is to constantly notice the strange shapes of time, its twists and turns, and the poignancy of memory and hope. It is not typically a cause of troubled anxiety, but of repeated delight. You could compare me to a musician who hears sounds everywhere – in the street, in the insects in the trees, creaks in the floorboards – and who enjoys acknowledging and noticing these little sound creatures. And just as it is not hard for a musician to alert his friends to this world of sound, so too the chronophile quickly has people catching on. Captivation with time is infectious.

What do you think? An open thread

This is an open forum. Let us know what is on your mind.

Some possible topics to pick up:

In the first open thread, we had a request from moralagent.  We’ve provided a lot of dismal observations about women in philosophy. How about some strategies for coping?

In the same thread Brandon suggested we have guestbloggers.  And Shelley mentioned having a guest with a point of view shaped by different cultural experiences.  Any nominations?

How about recent studies on diversity issues?

I’d love to hear about what participants here are reading, whether or not it is academic.

Please don’t feel restricted to those topic!


The “Gentle Lady” Demonstrates Journalistic Integrity

Katie Couric has had a huge amount of criticism as a lightweight since becoming anchor. Well, she’s the only anchor who demonstrated any journalistic integrity this morning, in a discussion with Charlie Gibson and Brian Williams of whether (!) TV news did its job properly in the run-up to the Iraq war:

While Katie Couric impressively argued that the media did fail to do its job — pointing out that the White House threatened networks which were perceived to be too critical with cutting off access to the war and that anyone who questioned the war was deemed unpatriotic and all of that “affected the level of aggressiveness that was exercised by the media”

And how did Gibson respond?

I think the questions were asked. I respectfully disagree with the gentle lady from the Columbia Broadcasting System [group giggles]. I think the questions were asked. . . .

I genuinely don’t know where to begin with that response to Couric’s excellent points.

Perhaps this is all a nice demonstration of standpoint theorists’ claims that outsiders are more likely to facilitate knowledge-seeking, since they have less of a stake in the status quo. (And yes, I’d say Couric’s treatment has demonstrated that she is in an important sense an outsider.)

“It’s despicable”

This was posted a few hours ago with the associated press:

Save the Children UK said in a report released Tuesday that it has uncovered evidence of widespread sexual abuse of children at the hands of peacekeepers and international aid workers in war zones and disaster areas.
The report said more than half the children interviewed knew of cases of coerced sex and improper sexual touching, and that in many instances children knew of 10 or more such incidents carried out by aid workers or peacekeepers.

In some cases, children as young as 6 years old were abused, the report said.

The study is based on research, confidential interviews and focus groups conducted last year in three places with a substantial international aid presence: southern Sudan, Haiti, and Ivory Coast. The group said it did not produce comprehensive statistics about the scale of abuse but did gather enough information to prove that the problem is severe.

“The report shows sexual abuse has been widely underreported because children are afraid to come forward,” Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children UK, told Associated Press Television News. “A tiny proportion of peacekeepers and aid workers are abusing the children they were sent to protect. It ranges from sex for food to coerced sex. It’s despicable.”

The threat of retaliation and the stigma attached to sex abuse were powerful deterrents to coming forward, the report said.

Ann Buchanan, an Oxford University expert in statistical attempts to quantify rates of child abuse, said the report does not produce comprehensive, statistical data about sexual abuse.

She said the topic is so taboo that it is virtually impossible to come up with reliable numbers, but she said the new report provides a useful starting point.

Sexual abuse is a hugely difficult, sensitive area and it’s not something that you can usually do surveys about because kids feel terrible shame and are afraid to say what’s happened to them,” she said. “Given what we know about underreporting of sex abuse, I would say this report is probably true. They’ve gone about it as sensitively as you can.”

U.N. officials in New York said the study shows the effort to combat sexual abuse is falling short.

Tom Cargill, Africa program manager at London’s Chatham House, said there is no “magic bullet” that can solve the problem quickly.

He said the United Nations is beset by a number of bureaucratic and legal problems when it comes to investigating abuses committed by peacekeepers.

“The governance of U.N. missions has always been a problem because soldiers from individual states are only beholden to those states,” he said…

The felt shame is such a common reaction to abuse, and it is something seemingly nearly incomprehensible to too many people making decisions in legal and  related contexts.

Unexpected Photoshopping

Usually we get stories on photoshopping to make women appear thinner (as well as wrinkle-free, etc). Interesting, then, to see this one about Cameron Diaz being made to look less skinny.
Does this mean that we’ve turned a corner, and that the pressure is no longer on to be thin? Sadly, one suspects not: just that Diaz took the pressure to lose weight a bit too far, which is actually nothing new at all. Indeed, this just demonstrates the difficulty of attaining the “right” body size: “Thinner, thinner, thinner! Nope, too thin!!”

CFP: Representations of Women in Film and Digital Media

Call for Papers

Pics and Politics: Representations of Women in Film and Digital Media

Wagadu. Journal of Transnational Women`s and Gender Studies
( is looking for submissions that address the visual work of women who
are concerned with gender and change. We welcome discussions of film and
media from a variety of perspectives incl. but not limited to film and media
studies, ethnology, critical theory, area studies, and art history. We envision
an issue located on the interstices of academic, artistic and activist discourse

Submissions should be marked by an interest in feminism, a fascination
for visionary works, and attentiveness to generative theoretical paradigms.
In line with the journal’s focus, we especially welcome submissions critical of
globalization and its ongoing shocks upon the subjects of culture.

Your submission may address one of the following topics:

– film and video artists (mainstream, experimental) who represent
vantage points in the history of feminism and / or discussions of sexuality, e.g.
Tracey Emin, Sadie Benning, Yoko Ono

– film and video artists who foreground (issues related to) race and cultural identity,
e.g. Yong Soon Min, Fanta Regina Nacro, Portia Rankoane

– video performance / installation artists, e.g. Kirsten Johannsen, Ingrid Mwangi

– contemporary multimedia and net artists, e.g. Shilpa Gupta

– contemporary media culture dubbed “post-feminist”, e.g. reality-tv
“Country XY`s Next Top Model”, “The Real Housewives of Orange County”;
representations of career women in film; or portrayals of girls and teenagers
in film TV and new media

– computer-based designers such as Brenda Laurel

Formats: Academic articles and analyses; reviews; art; book reviews;
festival reports, e.g. Zanzibar, Carthago; etc. (APA style format). Nota bene:
The authors take responsibility for contingent copyright issues of visuals and clips.

Deadline for submissions of abstracts (ca. 250-300 words): July 15,

Deadline for submissions of finished products: December 15, 2008

Please mail your inquiry and abstract to:

Editor: Dr. Nina Zimnik, Zuercher University for Applied Sciences,

Other inquiries:
Mecke Nagel, State University of New York at Cortland (Editor-in-Chief
of Wagadu)

Mechthild Nagel
Professor, Philosophy and Editor-in-Chief, Wagadu
Philosophy Department
SUNY Cortland
POB 2000
Cortland, NY 13045
607-753-4114 (fax)