Department Meetings: What’s not to like?

Female Science Professor lists her top five dislikes about meetings here. My own aren’t on the list, and I’ll share one which, given the conservative nature of academia, I assume is hardly uncommon.

Sometimes I feel compelled to count and assemble the variations on the following inference:

This is a new idea.
Therefore, we will not do it.

Variations are usually created by adding a premise; to wit:

  1. Only departments much better than ours could do this.
  2. Only departments much worse than ours would do this.
  3. Research has been done, and it shows we cannot do this.
  4. Only a sell-out in love with the most vile trendiness currently ruining universities would think of doing this.**

How does one survive?  Iphones help.   You can, of course, use it to play solitaire or tetris.  Using the Kindle Reader app you can work through a book while telling yourself your colleagues will think you are just playing solitaire or tetris.  And, very remarkably, you can produce pictures using an app called “Brushes.”  Some examples:







 These are by David Hockney, and you may find you need some practice, still it is great fun.  For more about Hockney on the iphone, go here:  David Hockney’s iPhone Passion – The New York Review of Books (Shared via AddThis)

With either Brushes or  an accompanying app you can get a movie of the process by which you created the painting.  The New Yorker has a series of these; try here for at least one.



**Premise 4 may bring to mind FSP’s fifth reason for disliking dept meetings:

The insanity factor. Some of my colleagues are really strange. I am really strange, too, so it is hypocritical to list this factor, but thus far my strangeness manifests itself rather quietly. For some of my colleagues, their insanity seems to require them to repeat themselves over and over at every faculty meeting for a decade or more. The effort required for me to keep from rolling my eyes at these repeat tirades is painful and may cause me permanent physical and emotional damage.

NY Times on Women in Philosophy

The NY Times has followed up on the Philosophers’ Magazine story about the lack of women in philosophy. On the bad side, they focus only on the hypothesis that philosophers are too aggressive, without any discussion of e.g. stereotype threat and the like. On the good side, at least they didn’t choose to focus on Baron-Cohen’s view that our girlie brains just aren’t made for this. And, also on the good side, it’s great to see the issue getting some attention. (For our earlier discussion, see here.) Thanks, Kelley!

Women in Philosophy Task Force

There’s a new organisation out there for everyone who cares about gender equity in philosophy, the Women in Philosophy Task Force. Here’s the story behind it:

After publishing her essay, “Changing the Ideology and Culture of Philosophy: Not by Reason (Alone),” Sally Haslanger was inundated with requests for help addressing challenges women face in professional philosophy. She was increasingly discouraged and needed assistance. So she entered a contest held by the Essex Conference Center and Retreat in Essex, MA, offering a free day meeting package to the group that could make the best case for its cause in 50 words or less. She won! With little time for organization and planning, she gathered roughly 25 women to discuss what more might be done to address the broad range of issues women in philosophy continue to face. The Women in Philosophy Task Force was born. We define our mission as follows:
The Women in Philosophy Task Force (WPHTF) is an umbrella group that works to coordinate initiatives and intensify efforts to advance women in philosophy.
In describing ourselves as an “umbrella group” we simply mean that our aim is to empower and facilitate through coordinated action.

To join, go to the website.

And if you’re into Facebook, you can join the Facebook group as well! The organisation is open to all those committed to working toward gender equity in philosophy.

CFP: Changing organisation of care

International, interdisciplinary conference
13 – 14 May 2010, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Europe is experiencing a revival of paid domestic and care work in private
homes in the areas of child care, elderly care and household maintenance.
Theory and research point to the combination of socio-economic,
demographic and welfare causes as characteristics of post industrial
societies, which give rise to the care deficit. These characteristics are:
changes in demographic structure of population; changes in family
structures and dynamics, individualization and instability of life and
family courses; feminization of labour force and masculinization of
women’s employment patterns; intensification, flexibilization and
precarization of working conditions in paid employment; global and local
economic inequalities that foster female migration and employment in
insecure work, and persisting gender inequality in sharing domestic and
care work. Policy responses to these developments are slow: they are
either absent (lack of increase in provision of public care services;
deregulation, privatization and refamilization of care; lack of
integration policies) or inadequate (cash for care allowances,
insufficient work/life balance arrangements, introduction of quotas on
migrant care workers), which forces (mainly) women to seek for individual
solutions in the grey economy of insecure care services.
The irregular paid domestic and care workers, regardless of whether they
are migrant or local women, with their activity in the domestic sphere
reorganize the notions of welfare and the relationship between care and
paid work in European societies. Most of this kind of work suffers from
“invisibility”; moving, as it does, through informal networks of family,
kin, friends or acquaintances, and operating without formal contracts
specifying wages, hours of work and working conditions etc., often in
hiding from the state due to illegality. On the supply side, this type of
(mainly) women’s irregular work, low paid and flexible work, carried out
in informal circumstances in the private sphere, falls upon those with the
least options, lowest educational levels, and those who have limited
rights of citizenship: (undocumented) immigrants, older women, long-term
unemployed women, young women seeking their first job, single mothers,
working poor. On the demand side, it is noteworthy that the employment of
an informal paid care worker is a crucial question of class, and that it
is a coping strategy of mainly working women of high socioeconomic level.
This raises the question of crucial dependence of the provision of care in
European societies on social exclusion, poverty, migration, and class,
gender and ethnic inequalities.
The purpose of the conference is to provide an international and
cross-disciplinary space to explore this question. We are particularly
interested in papers and panels that address the following issues:
– Theoretization of care, social organization of care and (global)
political economy of care
– Care from perspectives of social justice, social equality and social
– Social inequalities, poverty and “local” care chains
– Migration and global care chains
– Intersections of class, race/ethnicity and gender in formal and informal
care sector
– Work ethic and care ethic
– Citizenship and care
– Demographic decline and care deficit
– Gender inequalities, women’s employment and care deficit
– Changing family patterns and care deficit
To apply, please send individual paper proposals (max. 250 words) or
proposals for panels (max. 350 words) of three or four related papers, a
short CV, your institutional affiliation and contact to Deadline for the submission of abstracts is 15
December 2009; acceptance of papers will be announced on 15 January 2010;
written papers should be submitted by 10 April 2010. Call can be found on
We are looking for the possibilities of funding accommodation for
participants within the East East: Partnership Beyond Borders Program. We
especially encourage participants from Eastern Europe to apply and for
whom we’ll be able to fund travel and accomodation costs.
We are planning to publish selected papers presented at the conference.
The conference Changing social organization of care and its implications
for social politics is part of the project Informal Reproductive Work:
Trends in Slovenia and EU, financed by the Slovenian Research Agency. For
any additional information concerning the conference do not hesitate to
Majda Hrženjak,, Živa Humer,