AAP on Women in Philosophy

I’m later to this than I should be (in fact, I keep worrying I may have already blogged on it!), but far better late than never. The Australasian Association of Philosophy has put together an enormously impressive, very thorough report on the state of women in Australasian philosophy. But there’s more going on than just the report. There’s the fact that the committee behind it included not just women philosophers, but men, including very senior men. There’s the fact that *every* Australasian Head of Department has formally committed to supporting it. And there’s the fact that there was funding from the AAP and a University of Wollongong grant to support it. This sort of widespread institutional support is a rarity in efforts of behalf of women in philosophy, but it really shouldn’t be.

Anyway, it’s well worth a look. You might start with the executive summary. It’s apparently going to be discussed at a department meeting of every Australasian philosophy department (recommendation 8, on page 14). Just this level of engagement with the issues is an amazing thing, and hopefully it (and the other recommendations) will have a significant effect. (Thanks, Rae!)

3 thoughts on “AAP on Women in Philosophy

  1. It’s a wonderful and indeed amazing thing for them to have done. And it was funded!!!

    I’ve skimmed the ex. summary, and I’m wondering whether my sense that they are not paying that much attention to implicit biases is correct. If so, I wonder if there’s a way to suggest they do. Here’s one place where that shows up; where women are anomalous in a field, putting one senior woman on a search committee is not all that likely to do that much good. It takes about 1/3 of a committee – going from what I’ve read- to be female for the feeling that it isn’t a field for women to be substantially lessened.

    This does raise a question for me: a lot of people in the States think that conscious bias is pretty much past** and we need now to try to lessen unconscious bias. I wonder if female philosophers in Australia would say the same of their community.

    **Of course, this may not be true. I hear too many tales of female philosophy grads being told by their male colleagues that women can’t do philosophy.

  2. jj,

    The National Academies of Sciences 2009 Report “Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty” (Here is a link to a free executive summary http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12062) looks at the effectiveness of various strategies for increasing the proportion of women in applicant pools. This data is problematic because it shows that most schools are not doing very much, and so other strategies may be effective if they were consistently used. But, of what is currently being done they write,

    “It does appear that women were more likely to apply for a position if a woman was chairing the search committee. The proportion of females on the search committee and whether a woman chaired the committee were both significantly and positively associated with the proportion of women in the applicant pool.”

  3. alphafeminist, thanks so much. So it does look as though simply requiring one senior woman on the committee is pretty minimal. Perhaps they’ll look at this discussion. Thinking that they might do so, I wonder if there are one or two resources you might particularly advise them to consult.

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