An NSF sponsored study has looked at two factors influencing women to stay in – or drop out of – engineering, which, like philosophy, is a predomiantly male feel. They are: self-efficacy and a feeling of inclusion. Self-efficacy is about feeling oneself capable of setting and achieving goals.
One thing that is interesting about these two features is that professors can help at least some with each. They are also factors which, through perhaps workshops, a sponsored philosophy club and so on, a department can address. At the same time, there will be a lot of ways, one suspects, that leave women students feel they have less control – including negative stereotypes and an absence of women in the curriculum – that may be below the radar of many or most profs. Similar factors, along with some additions, will surely be impacting ethnic minorities and disabled students.
It might be interesting and even fun to get students together to discuss the many things sending the message that women can’t do philosophy.
Obviously, feeling self-efficacious and feeling included are not the same things, but some factors affecting one may well affect the other. But what about factors affecting inclusion that are independent? What do you think?