So what should we say when a conference has 90% male philosophers as speakers? Better one or two women, rather than none?
Maybe it is enough to emphasize that participating in what is in effect an exclusion of women from public arenas in philosophy is damaging to the profession, to women in the profession, and to students. It damages the profession in that, if nothing else, it brings it about that many, many talented women do not participate. A further result, I would argue, is a kind of ossification of views. The damage to women in the profession is clear: they remain marginal, excluded from the insider’s discourse. And students? Like their few female professors, women students suffer the epistemic injustice Miranda Fricker has described, implicitly positioned as having a voice of lesser value.
Notices of conferences like the one below cross my mailbox everyday:
From the APA:
The University of Texas at San Antonio Department of Philosophy welcomes Dr. Robert Audi (Notre Dame) as the ’08-’09 Brackenridge Philosopher in Residence for the Brackenridge Philosophy Symposium…
The theme of this year’s Symposium focuses on ethical and epistemic implications of Audi’s intuitionism. Confirmed participants for this year’s Symposium are: Roger Crisp (Oxford), Ernest Sosa (Rutgers), Mark Timmons (Arizona), David Sosa (Texas-Austin), Carla Bagnoli (Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Hugh McCann (Texas A&M), Peter Graham (Cal-Riverside), Christopher Kulp (Santa Clara), and Ralph Kennedy (Wake Forest).
The conference web site also lists 9 moderators, one of whom is a woman. Counting Audi, this gives us 19 participants, with two women. That’s 10.5% women.
The conference itself is about the “Ethical and Epistemic Dimensions of Robert Audi’s Intuitionism.” Could we please not say “O, there are no women working in that sort of area”? Let’s not be silly.
Over the last year or so, we’ve taken some notice of some conferences with a problematic representation of women. This link should get you most of them, along with some irrelevant bits.