NY Theaters: Only 20% of the playwrights produced are women.

Goodness, that’s as bad as philosophy!  The relevant article in the NY Times is occasioned by a meeting scheduled for Monday, but the explanations/suggestions given by those interviewed are interesting at  least as samples of culture if not as solutions.  A sample:

[THE WINNER] “I personally don’t think playwriting is a gene on a Y chromosome,” said Theresa Rebeck, a playwright whose work (“Omnium Gatherum,” “Mauritius,” “The Scene”) has been produced frequently on New York stages, including on Broadway. She added that there has been a reluctance to confront the issue: “Many of our male peers find the debate intolerable. Men in the community seem to think that everything is fine.”  Ms. Rebeck said that male friends “in the system say to me I have to keep my mouth shut; don’t be part of the problem, don’t be a whiner.” But Ms. Rebeck, who has written on the subject in the London newspaper The Guardian and attended the last meeting, has disregarded their advice.  “I think it puts in question excellence,” she said. “Whether it’s cronyism or bias,” she added, the result was that a message is sent that what is put onstage is “not about excellence.”


-[a general suggestion]  “It’s harder for women playwrights and directors,” said Oskar Eustis, artistic director at the nonprofit Public Theater, because “it’s harder for professional women in the United States.”…“The issue is best dealt with by consistent consciousness-raising rather than a specific program,” he added, saying the same approach applies to minority playwrights.  [Hmmm, jj]


-The explanation for such an imbalance is a puzzle, said André Bishop, the artistic director of Lincoln Center Theater, which has one Broadway and two Off Broadway theaters. Some people argue that “most artistic directors are men, and they don’t relate to or connect with women as much as men,” Mr. Bishop said. “Connecting to a play is a very personal and unconscious thing,” he mused. “I hope that isn’t true, but I don’t know.” He added, “I try to think about these things all the time, but I don’t, because I’m a pathetic mortal.”


Lynne Meadow is an example of that rare commodity Mr. Bishop referred to: a female artistic director in New York. Ms. Meadow, who has led Manhattan Theater Club for more than 35 years, reviewed submissions from recent years and estimated that about 40 percent came from women. Of 22 plays commissioned in the past eight years, 8 have been by women, she said.  [that’s 36% jj] Manhattan Theater Club has two Off Broadway stages and one Broadway theater.


-[a suggestion] For Carole Rothman, the co-founder and artistic director of Second Stage, the disadvantaged position of women is a familiar story. … She added that contacting enlightened foundations that provide money to the arts and recruiting powerful female artists like Eve Ensler and Jane Fonda are other useful tactics.


Hiring? Read This First

The US job market season is almost upon us. Soon we’ll be hearing about how women and minorities have an advantage because everyone is so eager to hire them. And yet we’ll also be hearing complaints about the continuing underrepresentation of women and minorities. By the end of it all, people of genuine good will on hiring committees will be shaking their heads with puzzlement wondering why, despite their good intentions and efforts, they have not managed to hire more women or minorities. Research on implicit bias can help us to make sense of this situation. What I found most fascinating in the research described below was the strong desire of HR managers to hire more minorities, and the total inefficacy of this desire.

In perhaps the most dramatic real-world correlate of the bias tests, economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago recently sent out 5,000 résumés to 1,250 employers who had help-wanted ads in Chicago and Boston. The résumés were culled from Internet Web sites and mailed out with one crucial change: Some applicants were given stereotypically white-sounding names such as Greg; others were given black-sounding names such as Tyrone.

Interviews beforehand with human resources managers at many companies in Boston and Chicago had led the economists to believe that black applicants would be more likely to get interview calls: Employers said they were hungry for qualified minorities and were aggressively seeking diversity. Every employer got four résumés: an average white applicant, an average black applicant, a highly skilled white applicant and a highly skilled black applicant.

The economists measured only one outcome: Which résumés triggered callbacks?

To the economists’ surprise, the résumés with white-sounding names triggered 50 percent more callbacks than résumés with black-sounding names. Furthermore, the researchers found that the high-quality black résumés drew no more calls than the average black résumés. Highly skilled candidates with white names got more calls than average white candidates, but lower-skilled candidates with white names got many more callbacks than even highly skilled black applicants.

From an excellent article on implicit bias here. The 2004 study referred to can be found here.

Philosophers often insist, like the HR managers in this study, that women and minorities have an advantage. Until someone comes up with a good evidence that we’re special in some way that frees us from implicit bias, I think the presumption should be the opposite. And that we need to be very aware of this. (For some more of our recent blogging on this topic, see here and here.)

The next question, of course, is what to do. Stay tuned.

Invisible Women

A small hypothesis: when people don’t get to hear about women working in a particular field, they will assume that there are no women working in that field.  Men working in that field will then spring more readily to mind, and get invited to speak at conferences, contribute to publications, etc.  This in turn means that people will not get to hear about women working in that field, and so it goes on.  The lack of visible women then contributes to general perceptions of women as no good at that sort of thing, not interested in that sort of thing, not suitable for that kind of work, and so on.  It also means that the field in question will not benefit as much as it could from the experiences, expertise, and knowledge of women, which for various reasons may be different from those of men. Over here, we’re fond of pointing out conferences that have an all, or mostly male line-up, when there are women who could have been invited, and where appropriate, we complain to conference organisers about it.  Unsurprisingly, academia is not the only place where this happens.  The Business for Millenium Development Summit kicked off in Melbourne today, to discuss how to implement the UN’s eight Millenium Development Goals, which are to: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability, and develop a global partnership for development.  Guess what?  All twenty-four speakers on the original programme were men.  After forceful words from Jane Sloane – executive director of the International Women’s Development Agency – they did manage to rustle up three women at short notice.  But if you ask me, pretty poor effort.  Read more here.

Thanks to Notfromaroundhere for sending us the story.


There’s a new website about neurocultures and brainhood:


Welcome to the BRAINHOOD site. This is the site of a network of scholars who share an interest in the rise and impact of a certain neuroscientific worldview in contemporary society; some of them have participated in the Brazil-Germany exchange program “The Cerebral Subject. Impact of the Neurosciences in Contemporary Society” (see PROBRAL).

To the extent that personhood is the quality or condition of being an individual person, we might call “brainhood” the quality or condition of being a brain. This property defines the “cerebral subject” that has become increasingly widespread since the mid-twentieth century. “Cerebral subject” designates not so much a “scientific object” as an anthropological figure – the human being as brain – with a great diversity of inscriptions, embodiments and crystallisations. Our common is to study this diversity, and to explore its concrete consequences in different realms of individual and collective practices and experiences.

This looks timely and important to me.

First Poll

WordPress has just added polls to the blog’s possibilities.  But what should the first poll be on?  Hmmmm.

Blogs often use polls to find out about their membership.  But then the first poll would be overwhelmingly significant.  It would at least seem to be about what we think is most important about the readership.

Unless it was a bit silly.  As will be our first poll, if I can just figure out how to insert it.


Next time:  something significant!

Are there questions you’d like to ask our readership?  Suggestions for future polls are certainly welcome; please let us know.  (Of course, we can’t promise we’ll use them.)

How can you change if you don’t have a problem?

Alphafeminist remarks in a comment:

I have been working on educating my department on the implicit bias work. As one might imagine, they immediately scrutinized the methodologies of the studies and proved to their satisfaction that the results did not apply to us in philosophy. One thing that we need is accurate demographic data regarding our graduate students and faculty.

That’s exactly what I’d expect, though certainly not hope for.  I take the last sentence about demographic data to suggest seeing the actual figures might show philosophers something is wrong.  But, equally, it might lead them to conclude that women just cannot do philosophy.  I’ve had a conversation to that effect with too many people already.

So what else can one do?  Any ideas?  Experiences?  Getting some senior people to buy in can help.  A lot of my optimism about the Society for Philosophy and Psychology’s effort is that the leadership sees there’s a significant problem.  I think one thing some NSF advance sites did was to have people evaluate themselves before and after  watching some material on how sexism operates.  E.g., it isn’t that hard to  recognize some of the sexist tropes in one’s thought.

Any other ideas?  Suggestions?