Just how hard is it for women to get published?

Not as hard as it is to *believe* that she has had work published, apparently:

Female philosopher with gender ambiguous name gets published. In editorial, she is referred to as ‘he’.

Presumably the editors were made aware of their mistake, as in the current issue the editorial contains this helpful note:

Image of the first page of the fulltext

[Some people are having trouble with the image, the editorial from the current issue of Ethical Theory and Moral Practice. The key bit reads: “We have to rectify a mistake. In the editorial of this volume’s issue 3, we unjustly assumed that Jules Holroyd is a female. He is not. Our sincere apologies.]

Sigh. ‘he’ or ‘she’. if it isn’t ‘he’…

A cry out for gender neutral pronouns?

18 thoughts on “Just how hard is it for women to get published?

  1. Looks like a woman to me (http://www.shef.ac.uk/philosophy/postgraduates/testimonials.html), but you’re absolutely right about gender neutral pronouns.
    Looked up the criticised editorial… they actually did refer to her as “He” there as well.

    And then to realise that in some languages there’s even a gender distinction in the grammar.

    Is it just me or is “sincere apologies” for calling a man a woman actually rather condescending? If it had been the other way, would it even have been mentioned in the editorial?

  2. Sorry, I don’t get this: in this editorial they are saying that first they assumed JH was a female, but then they realized that was a mistake, and that is why they use ‘he’?? (which is very puzzling, since the JH I know is female!)

    Not sure what is going on here. But perhaps they first assumed that JH was female because the paper was on feminism? (unreliable inference, of course)?? And then, they thought that the name would refer to a male, not to a female? (unreliable again).
    Very puzzling!

  3. This is terrible: they were wrong to assume Jules was a female (so Jules is allegedly a man), but then “he” is not?

    I wonder if anyone asked Jules before this ran…

  4. Esa: just to clarify: in the first editorial, they referred to Jules as ‘he’ (mistake).
    But in the second editorial, in which what they should have written a correction writing ‘we mistakenly referred to ‘her’ as ‘he’, they got it the wrong way round *again*, writing that they mistakenly referred to ‘him’ as ‘she’!
    Baffling indeed!

    TB: one would hope that editors would check this kind of thing! I guess we can assume that they did not, in this case!

  5. Last week we were talking about Judith Jarvis Thompson’s `A defense of abortion’ in my Medical Ethics class. One of my students kept referring to Thompson as `him’, even after both another of my students and I corrected him and he acknowledged that Thompson was, in fact, female. At one point, he started to try to apologize for his mistake by saying something like `But it’s such a good article’. Fortunately, he stopped himself before he managed to make things even worse.

  6. Usually, Jender, I would think she should take it as a compliment, for having both defeated a stereotype and made the bias of the offender so ridiculously obvious. Unfortunately, I suspect that many of the few who will actually read the “apology” suffer from the same bias, and those who notice don’t need the jolt in the first place. I wish I’m wrong, but I’m not holding my breath. And when said bias is a variant of “oh well women actually can think, maybe”, I must say that I’m thinking more about head-butting the nearest innocent wall than extending congratulations.

    “Ethical theory and moral practice”, yeah sure. I don’t know about theory, but my bone-concrete get-together routine is sure gonna get some practice.

  7. […] Perhaps the whole feminist quarrel has pushed the language we seem to take for granted in a more female dominated direction?  Thinking about the last two questions for example, why two different words for what is essentially a disagreement, arguments and quarrels?  Is an argument masculine and a quarrel somehow more feminine? […]

  8. Re the grammatical gender and gender/sex assumption:

    I’ve for quite some time thought that it would be relatively easy to move towards a gender-neutral language in English, since English has long ago lost most of its grammatical gender. I worry that that strategy doesn’t work very well for languages, such as the ones I am most familiar with (Germanic and Romance languages), that still retain fairly integrated grammatical genders (with corresponding declensions of adjectives and even certain verb forms). Another strategy is to dissociate grammatical gender and social gender/sex. There certainly are some historical paradigm instances of such dissociation in some languages I know (eg. paradigmatic feminine ending for something strongly associated with masculinity or men).
    I rarely get to talk to talk to philosophers about this issue and would be interested to know what other readers of this blog think, although I hope I am not hijacking this thread.

  9. Not hijacking at all! (Though somehow your comment got posted twice, so I deleted one.) I’ve been wondering about how feminists who speak languages with more gender-marking than English write about the issue. English speakers of course focus on the little bit of gender-marking that we have. Do feminists speakers of languages with more gender-marking care about pronouns? I can imagine it seeming less significant because there’s so much gender-marking all over the place, but I can also imagine it seeming more significant.

  10. I wonder also whether one things of the gender of a language in a different way when one’s language has inanimate objects having a gender.

    It seems to me there are two quick things one might do – one is check out the OED and see where “gender” enters the English language and what it was doing. The second would be to do a google search – maybe google scholar – for something like “feminism” “gender” “romance languages.”

  11. Indeed, google took me straight to:
    Feminism: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies
    By Mary Evans
    Contributor Mary Evans
    Published by Routledge, 2001

    and de Lauretis’s essay, which claims that gender in romance languages is a very different thing, tied to “genus” and “genre” and having nothing to do with sex.

  12. I’m not sure the etymological roots will help us much here (no, I haven’t read the article; thanks for the pointer). After all, a masculine ending is called for in Latin (and French) when there is reference to more than one person and at least one of them is male. This is even though Latin has a perfectly respectable neutral gender that could be used in the plural (unlike French).
    In any case, I am better acquainted with the Germanic languages (NB, in the Nordic languages the word for gender is the equivalent of ‘sex’ in English -‘kyn’, ‘køn’, etc; German has mostly adopted the Latin names), and in those cases I think one needs to look at different ways in which gendering can occur: 1) word usage/ metaphor usage; 2) anaphoric references; 3) why the grammatical gender of names for professions and various things associated with masculinity or males are overwhelmingly masculine. Different strategies might be adopted in each case.
    Re the use of pronouns: there we would have to distinguish between the anaphoric references which follow the gender of the noun the reference is to and direct reference to persons, which (currently!) is governed by the presumed sex of the person.

  13. Asta, I could, of course, be misrepresenting the essay – googling for scholarship is risky – but I suspect not, in which case you might consider writing something on this?? Of course, I say this not knowing much about your interests…

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