Joint sessions and women in philosophy

I’ve just got back from the Joint Sessions in Aberdeen, which was much fun. There were plenty of interesting talks, and a good friendly atmosphere.

Some points of note:

1. there was a SWIP UK panel session of talks, which was well attended. The line up was: 

  • Marije Altorf, ‘After cursing the library …’ Women and philosophy: a case study; Dan O’Brien, A feminist interpretation of Hume on testimony;  Vera Tripodi, On the distinction between abstract and concrete objects; and Lina Papadaki Pornography: is there a connection between treating things as people and treating people as things?

This seemed to be a good forum for promoting work by and of interest to women in philosophy. For anyone who wants to find out more about SWIP UK, the website is here:


2. My impression was that there were lots of women in attendance, and giving papers. I did a quick  count of the sex distribtution across papers given.

In the plenary sessions, M:9, F:4

In the graduate sessions, M:3, F:5

In the open sessions, M:69, F:26

Total: M:80, F: 35.


As pointed out in comments (thanks gaye!) this is rather far off 50%.


However, that there was a visible presence of women philosophers, especially at the more prestigious and well attended sessions (plenary and graduate) seems important.

In her much cited and hugely important paper, Haslanger (linked here)notes that schemas (the model with which she understands unconscious bias (from Valian)) tend to be activated when the individuals are perceived to be in a minority group – tipping point being 25-30%.

So having such a visible presence of women in philosophy may be doing good work in dislodging the clash of woman schemas with philospher schemas. One hopes…


On a less positive note, whilst the conference drew a fairly international crowd, there were very few non-white philosophers there. And all the papers I saw (which, in fairness, was a small proportion, approx 20) were by white philosophers.


(updated from comments, to remedy my maths errors! thanks again!)