But surely the APA national office recognizes there are female faculty

One would think so, but read on.

Of course, we do complain on this site about the state of women’s participation in philosophy.  And, of course, titles are in some ways not all that important.  However, titles may indicate attitudes, and so when a reader received a ill-informed chastising letter from the national office of the American Philosophical Association, it did not seem to make it any better that it was addressed to Ms FP Reader.

Do you want the details?  I’ll be brief.  The submissions for the Pacific APA were Sept. 1st, a national holiday.  And there’s a small quirk in the submissions process.  You are asked to submit your information and abstract and then press a button which will send you confirmation of your submission.  Terrific, but what happens when you go onto the next stage and the site says it won’t accept your word doc paper because it is not a word doc paper?  One thing you might try is to do it again.  Ha!  You cannot do it again, since it now has sent you confirmation of your submission and won’t let you submit something else.

So what should you do?  Well, Professor FP Reader wrote the person listed on the web-site as the secretary-treasurer, who of course is not the secretary-treasurer, but who was helpful nonetheless.  After all, the national office is closed, totally, and won’t be open until after the deadline.

That, according to the national office, was inappropriate for her to do, because she shouldn’t write a chair when the submission is anonymous. And the instructions are to contact the national office.  In fact, she didn’t write a chair and the national office was closed, but never mind.  Facts hardly seem the point.

Now, back to the main issue:  this is the kind of demeaning reaction to a double-bind situation that was familiar to me in convent schools as they were many years ago.  (One never forgets these things.)  It is, to borrow their word, inappropriate for the national office of the APA to address female faculty in this fashion.  It is almost, dare one say it, as if we didn’t count for all that much.

5 thoughts on “But surely the APA national office recognizes there are female faculty

  1. Hi JJ,

    I am sleep-deprived at the moment, but maybe others are too, and I’m having trouble figuring out how the title of the post fits with the posts. It looks like the problems are : (1) badly planned double-bind situation; (2) Addressing someone who is ‘Prof’ as ‘Ms’. Is there some additional problem that shows lack of recognition that there are female faculty?

  2. Should I change the title? It was meant to be a bit of a jokey exaggeration. But I’m a bit sleep deprived too.

    I would have thought the writer knows to address faculty as “Prof” or “Dr.” But that doesn’t seem to apply to women. Of course, we know that there are all sorts of reasons why women are not addressed by the titles that men are addressed by. At the very least, however, it indicates a lack of practice in addressing professional women properly.

    That coupled with the demeaning language is a red flag to me. This is, after all, the national office.

    I’d think it pretty outrageous to find a hospital where the male MDs are called “doctor” and women are called “Ms.” One thing one might say is that they don’t seem to have realized women also get MDs. To find it going on at the headquarters of the American Medical Association would be really shocking.

  3. Ah, got it! When I read the header, I was expecting to see that they’d used male titles or male pronouns inappropriately. So when I saw ‘Ms’, I kept thinking “but that means they did recognise that she was female!”

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