Philosophy facts, thanks to the Splintered Mind

Our friend, Eric Switzgebel, has posted some revealing  figures about women in philosophy.  In studying philosophers’ voting patters, he and his collaborator gathered a lot of data about philosophers.  Though the sample was just 5 states, they covered them very thoroughly.  In addition, there were age data for philosophers in 4 states. 

They’ve reused the figures to look at men’s and women’s comparative progress in the profession.  Switzgebel concludes that the record shows women move through the profession more slowly than men. 

Another dismal fact emerges; the comparative perceptage of non-TT positions women occupy.  For those young women with birth dates ranging from 1970-1979, 36% are in non-TT positions!  That’s compared with 13% of the guys.

Switzgebel mentions an obvious factor which may slow women’s progress:  marriage and/or  children.  In addition, women are more often “the trailing spouse” in the sciences, and this might well apply in philosophy also.  Of course, we need to be careful not to conclude that sexism isn’t operating.  Not only may it still be at work at a number of junctures, including what makes a male partner a hotter property on the market, but also there’s the institutional sexism of the university and college structures that are still geared to male biological lives more than female.

So thanks, Eric!  For the study!

4 thoughts on “Philosophy facts, thanks to the Splintered Mind

  1. You are welcome. It is a quite different take in some ways.

    The figures on the non-TT do make me feel so sad. We do need to address it more, I think.

  2. Thanks for the link. I wouldn’t make *too* much of the high non-TT rate among the 1970-1979 female birthyear cohort — in absolute numbers that’s only a few people. The more striking thing, to me, is the upward swing in overrepresentation of males in that group, which either means that fewer women are going into philosophy than in previous generations or (more likely, I think) that they’re hitting the job market more slowly.

  3. I think that there is a good reason to pay attention to the over representation of women in non tenure track jobs. It is worth noting that in all but one of Schwitzebel’s cohorts is there a larger proportion of women faculty who are non tenure track than men full time faculty who are non tenure track. This is consistent with data on women faculty in the academy more generally. West and Curtis (2006) found that 30 percent of full-time women faculty are in non tenure track jobs, compared to only 18 percent of full time men faculty who are in non tenure track jobs. It is important to note that women faculty have made the biggest gains in more marginal faculty positions. The new jobs for women tend to pay less, be at less prestigious schools, at low ranks or in non tenure track jobs.

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