We get a lot of grief for our Gendered Conference Campaign, both online and off– enough that sometimes I honestly just can’t face doing a post and waiting for the shit to hit the fan again. We do spend time wondering if it’s worth it, and if it’s a good way to accomplish our goals or if it’s just making people angry and being counterproductive. So it was lovely to get this email over the weekend, which I thought I’d share with you:
Our chapter of Phi Sigma Tau held our conference yesterday which turned out to be a great example of gender representation in philosophy. When the president of PST began planning the conference, I talked to him about the importance of gender representation and directed him to this website. He was hesitant at first, but after about half an hour he began to see the bigger picture. I explained how important it is for philosophy students to see female names on conference schedules and hear women’s voices if for no other reason than it breaks the stereotype that philosophers must be male. This hadn’t ever occurred to the president of PST before, but he said he would think about it. Over the next month he sought me out a few more times to ask my opinions about when gender should be relevant and when it shouldn’t, so he was clearly making an effort.
The conference yesterday was a great success. Although the genders were nowhere near equally represented, women were represented in a way that may not have happened unless I spoke up. There are so few female grad students in our department that it is clear the president called every single woman asking her to take part.
Out of ten speakers, only one was a woman.
Out of ten commenters, two were women.
Out of ten moderators, four were women. (this was a new position that I suspect was created solely to include more women in the conference.)
That might not seem like very many women, but I heard multiple people from other programs comment on how many women there are in our department. Again, there are actually very few women in our department, but the president made sure they were all seen on stage. It changed the face of the conference in a way that gives me hope for the future of philosophy. Although the men who planned the conference were hesitant about my views at first, after reflection they realized I was right and acted on those new beliefs. I could tell they were proud of the non-gendered conference they put together, and I’m sure they will make the same effort in ever conference they put together throughout their careers. They stopped seeing my request as affirmative action, and started seeing it as a way to improve the field they love so much.
Thanks, ES– you’ve made my week!