“We’re so sorry! We didn’t mean to harm anyone!”

That is my fantasy of what Routledge might say when it is pointed out to them that their companion to ethics has 5.8% female authors (that is, 4 out of 68).

Does this hurt women in philosophy?  Let’s borrow a passage from the  gendered conference campaign and make some adjustments so it fits edited collections:

We’re trying to spread awareness of
the harm that this does, by perpetuating the invisibility of women in
philosophy and thereby feeding the implicit biases that make it more
difficult for women to be taken seriously as philosophers (or to take
themselves seriously). The absence or underrepresentation  of women in edited volumes is a near-regularity in our profession, and the psychological literature makes it very clear that– no matter what our conscious beliefs and intentions– we are all likely to continue to perpetuate this unless we deliberately take steps to overcome it. Making an extra effort not to overlook the contributions of women when editing a volume is one small but important step.

Thanks to JT.

78 thoughts on ““We’re so sorry! We didn’t mean to harm anyone!”

  1. Shocking, yet so common. I get so tired of seeing women under-represented in academic texts. Unless they are on “feminism” of course, and then it seems we are allowed a say…

  2. I miscounted: there are four women out of *over 60* contributors. Sorry, frank, two of the women are writing on feminism …

  3. JT, thanks for letting us know. I changed the post. But was it over 60? Yikes. I should just not try to do percentages.

    In case anyone is wondering about the imprecise counting, follow the link and you’ll see the authors are all right up against one another.

  4. Wow. And lots of authors I’ve never heard of, in areas where I could easily think of several women who are doing important work. Definitely deserving of being publicly shamed!

  5. This is the kind of book one could easily have assigned for an advanced intro to ethics class, but given the message it sends to women considering a degree in philosophy it most certainly won’t end up as required reading on my syllabus. What a wasted opportunity. Or maybe this is an attempt to counter the stereotypical image of ethics as the “soft” counterpart to M&E etc? Kick out the women and watch the prestige of your subfield soar?

  6. How sad. How irritating. Evidently women are not “companions” enough to ethics. What can we do to publicly shame?

  7. That’s so sad.
    And especially in ethics they can’t come up with excuses like “but there are hardly any women in this discipline – who should we have asked?”

  8. This is appalling. . .as usual.

    I sent an email letter to one of the philosophy editors for the publisher expressing my severe disappointment about the matter. What else can we do?

  9. Given the problem is the recurring under-representation of women philosophers, I think it would be a good idea to write to the philosophy editors, perhaps including the marketing editors, at Routledge. Here’s a link that has the relevant addresses.

    I can’t find any indication of an overall editor of their companion series.

  10. I just composed an email to the editors as well. This doesn’t feel satisfying enough. What else can we do?

  11. With all do respect, this is one of the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard. So you’re militating against the fact that not quite many women got inside a compilation? And you demand … apologies?

    Just one question: why is it that there are so few women in that handbook. You think they were forming a line a Routledge’s door and they kept saying no and no?

    PS: were YOU in the companion, trying to overcompensate the difference?

  12. Are you guys joking? You “composed an e-mail” to the editors? Saying what?! I would give everything to see that e-mail. I really would!

  13. Well, with all “do respect” to you argumentics, I’m not sure quite why it is you find the idea of arguing for more equal representation so unutterably humorous you felt the need to comment on it (twice) . Do you think these collections are somehow assembled and handed down from on high by perfectly neutral arbiters who are impervious to cultural biases or nepotism? What level of representation do you feel would be ‘realistic’ for female philosophers to expect, and ungrateful to aspire beyond?Does it matter if, through the pervasive lack of women’s voices in collections like this, female students can’t envision themselves as philosophers (yes of course, some bolshy students – like me! – will be galvanised with feminist fervour after noticing this underrepresentation, but many others feel intimidated or simply put off by the imbalance).

  14. Hi Argumentics,

    With all due respect, your comments reveal a profound ignorance about how academic publishing works, so unless you want to embarrass yourself further I suggest you educate yourself before you speak.

    Now: back to the important issues.

  15. Good news, argumentics, you need not “give everything” to see an email to the editor. If you read this post, you read the email.

  16. Oh, “all do respect”, “all do respect”. Isn’t that skittish!

    Does anyone here have, at least vaguely, the idea of how many women could have written entries in that handbook or companion or what it is?

    Do we have 45, from which the bastards have chosen to publish only 5 or 4? Do we have 20? 200?

    How can you compare 4 to 68 (and then bold, italic, red, whatever format you could find on that 68)? You should compare 4 to ‘x’, the one you have no idea of.

    But, suppose there were 500 women available (willing, AND COMPETENT) for writing what was to write in that companion. Who are you going to blame for not choosing them? And are you going to blame in their stead? And if you get 499 “the other author was simply better, regardless of the sex”, then what?

    PS: please try and surpass the 5th grade jokes about my non-native English. You can understand what I’m saying, I guess that’s more than enough here and for now.

  17. argumentics, I suspect you are new to the discussion of gender equality in academic fields. Over the last ten or so years there’s been a lot of study and thought put into the question of why there seem to be relatively few women in the sciences, engineering and philosophy. That’s in contrast to psychology, biology, linguistics and all the other humanities. Even in the very technical field of cognitive psychology, (approximately) 35% of faculty positions are held by women, but in philosophy it is 21%.

    A great deal of research has gone into the causes of the problems with the so-called hard sciences and engineering, and we know now that it is implausible to hold that women can’t be every bit as good. One consequence of all the attention and effort is that those fields are opening up and gaining more women.

    Philosophy seems largely not to realize there’s a problem. And one thing that all the research is telling us is that there are unconscious biases holding in place the relative lack of women in the profession. Every time women are badly under-represented, those witnessing that may have their unconscious assumptions reinforced. That is, until people become more aware of how we all act out our unconscious biases.

    At this blog we are trying to make a small difference in philosophers’ recognition of the problem.

  18. I can understand that. And I think its a very worthy cause. However, I didn’t object to that.

    I cannot see much connection between the fulfilment of that cause with irate initiatives such as this post. There’s nothing wrong with case studies and field research, but sending a letter to an editor because he chose I don’t know how many men over I don’t know how many women seems childish to me. Moreover since he is a private publisher on a free market. And then expecting apologies?

    Also, I’m not saying the percentage is fine as it is. But it’s not for us (non-moral-philosophy-interested-women) to decide. Maybe they did not want to, maybe they weren’t available at that time, maybe they refused, and many maybes. (Are there any ethics profs engaged in this campaign?) And among all these, you tell me this blog’s authors’ best choice is: Routledge is discriminative? If I lay aside the fact that I agree with the idea behind it, the post is at least dismally funny, if not ruefully inappropriate.

  19. We are not accusing Routledge of consciously discriminating, and I at least am not asking for an apology. The “We’re sorry” is just a fantasy, and, in addition, it does not say what they are sorry about, still less that they’d be sorry for doing something.

    At least in US English, and I think in UK English, one can say “I’m sorry” without intending to accept any sort of blame. If, e.g., a neighbor leaves some important thing in my driveway and I back over it, I might well say that I’m very sorry and that I certainly didn’t mean to, e.g., crush their lovely flowers.

    I’m not at all sure that it simply is Routledge’s affair and we should not presume to criticize it. We philosophers criticize a lot of things, up to the point sometimes of saying they shouldn’t have been published. Typically, as philosohers, we criticize on philosophical merits, but as feminists we’re going to criticize other things because they damage women’s position in the profession, among other things.

    The fact that there are many excellent women doing ethics is also very obvious.

    I can’t think of any social movement that tries to change things that didn’t end up having to make noise and ruffle a few feathers. For women that can be painfully difficult, since we’re also often friends with the feathered ones. But nothing so far seems to have changed anything, and there are some signs our efforts are making at least some difference in the right direction.

  20. I know what “I’m sorry” means, but I also know that if you ask one from someone who “hurt women in philosophy”, “perpetuated the invisibility of women”, or “fed the implicit biases” (I think “nepotism” appeared on the scene … it seemed only proverbial enough that it should be present) I reckon you’re not aiming for the “hey, you involuntarily stepped on my toe” type.

    Anyway, again, I see now where you’re going with this blog. I leafed through it and I got the idea. If I may add, though: there’s feather ruffling and there’s hysteria, and I see this post as falling under the latter.

    Now, as mere curiosity, could you point at least 5 or 6 out of the “many excellent women doing ethics”? That is, besides the co-authors who partook in writing the companion.

    And you didn’t answer my first question: are there any “excellent women doing ethics” part of this Routledge-criticizing campaign? Because if not, … well, I trust that you see through my implicit claim.

  21. argumentics, as you might tell from the remarks by others above, the thing about this example is that there are so many very visible women doing ethical philosophy. It is hard to take seriously the idea that you think you can criticize what this post does while you are unaware of some very well-known featurs of the profession.

    A second worrying feature of your last remark is your insinuation that somehow this is particularly about Routledge and not about women in philosophy. That’s actually another sign that you do not understand the context at all.

    I think it is better to close this discussion. We ask that everyone here be respectful. Challenges coming from someone not aware of the characteristics of the field, along with insinuations about another agenda, are not constructive and only just respectful.

    I am also now concerned about your defensive comments about Routledge; it would be a very great pity if your appearance here was some substitute for a more direct approach from them. But of course I don’t mean to suggest that for a minute. :)

  22. About 15 years ago I began simply to refuse to use texts that did not incorporate women authors in Ethics (my field) and have made my own readers since then. Also, when asked to review a book proposal, I look first at the table to contents and if there are not sufficient women philosophers there, I go no further and submit a concise review as to how I will not use texts which do not incorporate works by philosophers who are women. The major publishers don’t ask me to review anymore. The market forces may help us if we boycott books like this for our courses.

  23. i think lani is probably right. the only way to correct the market forces is to organize a boycotts. put together a pink list or black list (or some other color)…

  24. I don’t understand why there needs to be a minimum number of female authors, as Lani says, incorporated in a text for it to be respectable.
    Do you feel like females offer a unique perspective on ethics? Or is a topic like ethics best covered by a wide range of experience? Because either of these could be good points, but someone mentioned a lack of females would discourage other females from pursuing the field, and I think that’s nonsense.

  25. alex, thank you for sharing your opinion. Do you have any reason to give that might support your claim about nonsense? Perhaps some empirical evidence?

    I’m wondering how you explain the dearth of women in philosophy. There has been, as I explained in comments, an enormous amount of research on these issues. The National Science Foundation has poured millions and millions into trying to understand change the gender disparity in many fields, and indeed they have been relatively successful in the sciences and engineering. Perhaps you know of some of it?

    We’ve noted in a recent post that even the US Navy is going to allow women to serve on submarines. There seems to be a great deal of thought and effort into such changes. It is interesting that our discipline hasn’t gotten around to critical self-examination yet.

  26. Just an anecdote- I was once having a conversation with a male classmate who told me women aren’t good at philosophy. I asked what his evidence once, and he told me to take a look at the course syllabus, which had our reading list, and none of the texts were by women (nevermind the fact the reason he was irate was that I scored higher than him on a test). While he was male, I think first, it’s plausible females might draw the same inferences he did, and second, male attitudes like his, might discourage women from pursuing philosophy, if only to avoid such encounters. Luckily, I tend to be a bit antagonistic. :)

  27. Yes the Navy needed critical self-examination, but that is fixed. Now that both men and women are able to serve on subs, maybe the percentage will be 80 percent men and 20 percent female. If men and women were statistically equivalent, dearths such as that would be surprising, but men and women are different. More men seem to end up in the army, and philosophy, and engineering. That seems to be the way men and women differ. In my experience, many more men have taken an interest in philosophy than women (This is based only off of people I know). But the thing that is most important to me is that a woman such as yourself who has an interest in philosophy is able to pursue it. But please, the reason I’m on this site is to understand where you’re coming from, why do you feel society would improve if ethics had a more even gender distribution?

  28. Alex, the factors that influence and end up determining a person’s academic interests are really very complex. It is probably not a good idea to assume that the connection between gender and philosophy is due to anything more than the social factors that reward men and deter women in studying it.

    There are a number of different people who write on this blog, and I think that if you continue to stop by and read, you’ll see a variety of reasons for promoting gender equity.

  29. Kathryn,
    I am sorry that you had to deal with a jackass in your philosophy class. Whether he meant it or not, that’s a repulsive thing to say.
    But I want to give you a different example.
    I don’t know the statistics, but based on what I’ve heard (and common sense, it is their heritage), African-American studies is mostly taken up by black students. In addition, most of the text books, if not all, would be written by black scholars or leaders (again, no statistics, but I think I’m being reasonable). Now say I join the class and someone points out to me that black people are better at African-American Studies, using the syllabus as a reference. In this case, would you recommend adding more white authors so that I could feel comfortable?

    No! The color of the person who wrote the text doesn’t matter at all, books are chosen based on content.

    If I’m discouraged by the number of black authors, or even the number or black students, the problem is with ME, not the class. I am the one putting an emphasis on race and taking it personally.

    If you’re female, or Jewish, or anything, and discouraged because not enough philosophy authors are [your faction], then you belong in kindergarten, where kids learn to stop whining because the world doesn’t revolve around them.

  30. Kathryn, I agree. I think anyone with much sense would doubt whether there are many professional rewards available to women..

  31. jj,
    As a freshman studying engineering, I know things can be more complex than they seem. I am ignorant, so I will read on. Thanks for your time.

  32. By my count, the Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science has 6 women authors, two of which co-author with men and one of which writes on feminist philosophy of science.

  33. alex, it’s interesting that you use african-american studies as your example. in that case, one might very well think that african-americans (so-called) do stand in a unique knowledge position wrt the subject matter. as an african-american thinker, i might think something like ‘this subject is *about me*’. surely you see the disanalogy with philosophy…unless you think that philosophy is *about men*? (i assume that you don’t think that. that you’ve just overlooked the relevant disanalogy.)

    i should also add that i had a similar experience to kathryn. except that in my case, he didn’t even bother to argue that women aren’t good at philosophy. he just informed me that my higher mark was owing not to my superior-quality work, but to the fact that the instructor wanted to ‘bone’ me. i suspect if you ask around, you could get comparable stories from virtually every female academic you know. some of us swallow our pride and trudge on. but many are too sickened, and drop out of the profession. -and then they’re counted as women who ‘aren’t interested’ in philosophy.

  34. I think this is a useful case, because it illustrates that there really is a problem with the choices being made by editors, conference organizers, etc. In this case, there is no way to hide behind the excuse that there were not enough talented women to invite. (In m&e, the excuse is equally lame, but because the overall numbers of women are smaller, people tend to accept it when they shouldn’t.)

  35. One explanation for the high numbers of women in science in some muslim countries, is that the science is low in prestige and so there aren’t the gate keepers preserving it for men.

    Though it might be right, I am uneasy with that sort of explanation; it looks a bit close to a conspiracy theory.

    However, when one hears tale after tale of what women in philosophy grad school get from the male students – which amounts to the repeated message that they’re really not very good and don’t belong- then one wonders about whether there’s some instinctive attempt to clear the territory so the men can continue to control it.

  36. jj, that’s interesting about women in sci in muslim countries. I’m very curious to look at some data on that question.

    (And jj, I’m one of those women grad students (a near PhD) from a good program… many “hot shot” male cohorts tend to dismiss me socially and philosophically. I struggled with major self-doubts over the years, until I started publishing my work. Quite a few of my women friends in philosophy have had similar experiences. jj’s comment is right on!)

    Thanks for this post on Routledge. Ha! Routledge editors will be inundated with email.

  37. SL, I first read about women in sci in Muslim countries in the book “Athen Unbound.” I remember Sandra Hardy telling me that the US came quite far down the list of countries with women in sci. I’ve since seen charts on the web which confirm the idea and show how it does vary with the countries. I suspect the charts were from the UN, but I’m not sure. Starting a google search with a few relevant descriptions might get you some pretty quickly.

    I am really sorry to hear about your experiences! I’m glad it seems a bit better.

  38. Alex – take a look at a venerable piece by Virginia Held called “Reason, Gender and Moral Theory,” to answer your question about what women have to offer to moral philosophy. There is a range of feminist and feminine ethics available and these views are not/rarely included if women are not included in the texts.

  39. Lani,
    I definitely will. If females have a unique contribution to ethics that is being ignored, I would absolutely question why.

    but elp, and Kathryn, dealing with jackasses is not a special female philosopher struggle. Everyone deals with jackasses in different ways, from being called stupid to being bullied, and being bitched at by girls. When you meet these repulsive personalities, the solution isn’t to change the philosophy syllabus and hire a gay professor so no one can crack jokes about you. Once you do that, they’ll find something else to make fun of you for. The right thing to do is treat them like everyone else, and not let them get to you.

  40. Alex, you are a freshman and you are lecturing philosophers, some of them very senior professional philosophers, about how they should understand their situation?

    We are supposing a background of which you are, I fear, wholly ignorant. You really just should not presume you have a clue, honestly. This may be harsh, but it’s so inappropriate for you to be doing this. This is a very important social message: stop it! Don’t rush in where angels fear to tread. Or, as the Brit expression goes, do not try to tell your grandmother how to suck eggs.

  41. argumentics, I have removed your slyly insinuating question. You can look at #21 to see where you are going wrong.

    The discussion with you is over.

  42. Alex, you’re right that having to deal with jackasses is not particular to women in philosophy. However, I think that dealing with a systematic exclusion of women from the field, by jackasses, purely in virtue of their gender, is less generally applicable. (And, in other cases of sytematic jack-assery, I am equally concerned as I am about this, e.g. racism, homophobia, etc.)

    An off-topic point, if you are interested in gender equality, I might be careful about saying something like “getting bitched at by girls” since it has some sexist connotations, on a number of levels.

  43. oh dear.

    this conversation seems to have attained levels of cringe-inducingness that seem entirely unwarranted by the subject.

    alex, it’s great to you want to learn, but wanting to learn and being able to learn are different things. sometimes learning requires busing. sometimes learning requires you to stop speaking (or, in this case, typing).

    silent contemplation is a very useful learning tool.

  44. I do apologize if the last four comments seem less well taken than they did before I removed Alex’s comments. It isn’t clear to me what was going on. Taken at face value, he seemed to think his experience provided him with adequate metaphors for pretty much all of human experience. However, that’s such an implausible thought, I’m wondering if he was playing some sort of game.

  45. On a positive note, as evidence that it is helpful to give people the impression that members of their group are not unique in a field, I always thought that dazzling group from Oxford around WWII was evidence of something. Philippa Foot, Elizabeth Anscombe, Iris Murdoch and weren’t there also a couple of major though not quite that famous philosophers named Mary? I know they knew one another, and I always figured that the reason they all emerged at a time when otherwise there were virtually no women appearing in the field is just that they were by luck all in the same place and that the presence of the others was helpful to each of them in preventing them from feeling like solitary freaks.

  46. This post sure attracted the trolls… In between, I saw a few references to women philosophers who should’ve been included in this companion. Would it be possible (and worthwhile) to compile a “companion to the companion” or something like that, which lists articles by women you would include in a companion like Routledge’s? This might help us new(er) to philosophy to balance the reading. This might also be helpful in support of a boycott of the malestream press (instead of the book, just use this or that reading list).

  47. On the other hand, and unfortunately, it’s good to sometimes rehearse all the reasons for concern so that other passing readers, not familiar with the context, will see what all this is about (not everyone can be bothered to click on a link to the campaign page). Although it is also a hernia-inducing activity. Thanks to JJ, and others, for keeping on top of the discussion.

    Rachel – good idea.

  48. Aaron and Anon, I’m less sure. One of the others there was Mary Midgley and she says she thinks what helped them so much was the absence of men, since so many young men were involved in WWII in one way or another.

    I also think that the context may be very different from what you might think. (I’m speaking from experience, having been at Somerville College for some time when Philippa and Elizabeth were both there). In Oxford at their time, philosophy was one of the most valued of all the fields, Somerville was considered superb, academic women were fairly scarce and generally regarded as rather prize catches, and individuality and eccentricity were highly valued. I think it was out of the question that just by being one of a very few women in the field, they’d be crushed, at least any more than a man. Also, there were lots of other very distinguished women, including all sorts of leaders in their fields at Somerville. There was a nobel prize winner, Dorothy Hodgkin, women who were made Dames because of their outstanding contributions, and so on.

    Finally, England has had much more of a tradition of supportive men who will take secondary roles to their brilliant wives. And to some extent, Peter Geach was like that.

    What they didn’t have seem to have any knowledge of, as several of us who were their students have agreed, was any sense of the politics of being a women in philosophy, along with the almost daily discounting we got from our tutors. One highly distinguished tutor asked to be kissed at the beginning of a tutorial, for example.

    Actually, it is possible that what did happen is that Philippa and Elizabeth together agreed that most of the male philosophers were a bit silly; I know that Philippa was later unfazed by some of the dismissiveness that she got at the hands of some men.

    They really thought that “quality always shows through” despite the fact that they saw generations of students after them less flourishing. Philippa, much to her credit, was later concerned about this.

  49. A minor point, perhaps, but this thing is apparently priced at $180! Would anyone assign that as a textbook for their poor students?

    This doesn’t detract at all from the very valid and worth-pursuing point that the authors are ridiculously gender-imbalanced.

  50. About an alternative list: We had a notice that we discussed about a project to put together lists of women philosophers by field and/or topic; I’m not sure what happened to the project, or how to find it in the now large number of posts here. There are two reasons I’d be hesitant to take it on. One is that I’d rather see people volunteer their names as much as possible. Lists can easily be very exclusionary, and perpetuation all sorts of exclusions. But even more, for a text book one wants readings that create some sort of dialect. That’s one reason why a number of feminists resist the idea of just adding in women and stirring. Gender might be a motive for creating the list, but women’s contributions far outstrip that. But then that means that there are various, probably equally good, ways to form the list AND to do it requires fairly detailed knowledge of the works.

    I could pretty easily come up with a list of “most heard about” women in ethics, but it would be exclusionary since we know that there are excellent women not getting the public light. AND I don’t have the detailed knowledge to put together a good dialectic. Whoever does might find it a quite time consuming task.

  51. jj: this conversation has me spinning on exactly those topics. the caveat: the first ethics class i took as an undergraduate (the mandated one in my department at an all female college) **only** taught women.

    i had a problem with this and, say, not learning about kant. this led to departmental review, etc, etc, etc. long story short: the woman lost the class and a new syllabus was created.

    that said, between that experience and many more years of study in ethics, i think it would be interesting to try and build a list of some sort.

    i also recall the other post and the idea of building a list. i think this project could have more success because it’s more focused.

  52. Is this the project you remembered, jj & reel? There also was an email on the SWIP list yesterday regarding a call for participation in the World Idea Repository (WIR) organized by Philosophical Research Society. They are trying to counteract the current 95% male participation rate…

    @Regina: To me the $180 would be enough of a deterrent… I am a bit surprised that it took this long before someone mentioned this. Of course, overpriced textbooks is another issue entirely…

  53. JJ, many thanks for sharing with us what it was like being at Somerville College, alongside Foot and Anscombe. Just fascinating.

    (Thanks also for those supporting words regarding my earlier post about being dismissed by hot shot male peers in my department.)

  54. Completely agree with Monkey that it is occasionally necessary to try to inform context-ignorant who pass through this blog. jj was exceedingly patient during that one recent discussion. (I actually learned a few things about discussing feminist matters with non-feminist-minded undergrads who sometimes challenge me.)

  55. as a female grad student who’s felt incredible self-doubt and uncertainty about remaining in philosophy because of so many instances of gender-based intellectual discounting, social exclusion, and sexualizing remarks, i wanted to say thanks to those of you responsible for running this blog

    i’ve been reading for a while, although i’ve never commented, and i can’t express how much it helps just to have this as a place to come and read about:
    -others who share these experiences and have stuck it out anyway
    -things one can do to try and improve the situation
    -ways to respond calmly and effectively to those who dismiss concerns about these circumstances

    in particular, jj, your patience and restraint in responding to the ignorant yet assertive comments of posters like alex is approaching saintly


  56. Yes, JJ and a few others on this site (Monkey, elp, Hippocampa, H.E.Baber, Jender&the Jfamily, Stoat and a few others that don’t post as often) are inspiring role models. I keep coming back here because I need constant reminders of the reason I chose to look into the discipline in the first place.

    Their diplomacy, tact and courtesy in dealing with bigots is the reminder and the reason.

    Welcome aboard, philady. The more the merrier :-)

  57. It seems to me the advantage of lists on the internet is that it can always be added to, so if some names are missed on the first pass, they aren’t left off forever. And then the lists can be used as sources to generate more coherent sets of readings, if that is what is desired.

  58. On lists, Noelle McAfee’s Women in Philosophy wiki is fairly nice, although by format and intent it has fairly limited scope.

    And I have to echo some of the praise for jj and others here; topics often have to be brought up that lead some people to take matters too personally or to jump in with indignant hyperbole, and it takes rather more patience and restraint than I would have to deal with some cases, even though it usually is the best way to treat them.

  59. Thank you all for the supportive comments; I’d mention individual names, but I’m afraid of leaving someone out. It is wonderful to get a positive response from one’s community.

    Now, that said, I’d love to be a paradigm of restraint, but I’m afraid there was a strong motive. WordPress keeps rough track of the readers of a post and this one has gotten a fair amount of attention. In fact, 1,326 readers so far, it says. Since we had people coming on repeating the old lines, it seemed to me very important to indicate how well founded our concerns are. And to do so in a way many members of our so-far unconverted colleagues might actually read.

    Jender is the origin of the stress on politeness and respect, and it does seem to make a big difference to a blog.

    Rachel, that’s the project I had in mind. Thanks so much for finding it. There have been really good points made about having a list of reading; we should check and see how it is going.

  60. Also, I greatly value the fact that most of us feel safe enough on this blog to speak about the bad parts of our experiences. I think there are very serious questions about staying in philosophy, balanced in part by the very good features of academic life, which of course has other downsides. I am far from sure I’d do it over again, but that may be in part because my interests have shifted over to cognitive neuroscience.

  61. @ philsci-er.

    i agree about the internet.

    some more thoughts: it seems like there should be a way to create wiki articles around these subjects of interest. or at least a way to use the wiki platform. that would make it editable and very accessible. plus, links could be posted to relevant papers, texts, cross-referenced. all that good stuff…

  62. Thanks so much, Rachel. It will be very interesting to hear what’s going on.

    If it’s not going to get very far, the idea of a female philosophy Wiki might be a good alternative – as RA, I think, was suggesting.

  63. Has anyone asked Routledge or the editor (Skorupski) why there are so few papers by women in their companion to ethics ? If so, I’d be curious to know what reasons (if any) they gave for the lack of women involved. I was told as an undergraduate there are more women working in ethics than other subjects like metaphysics, philosophy of mind or epistemology. I have no idea whether that’s true. (It would be good to see how the data breaks down in different areas in philosophy.) But if it is, then it is even more worrying that so few women were chosen.

  64. Various people have written (see comments above), but they haven’t said what the response has been.

    I don’t know about comparisons among fields, but there are a lot of women in ethics, many of them highly visible.

  65. Here’s an update on the database from Cynthia Townley: “We are just ironing out some issues with the hosting of the database, and finalising the content so far. We anticipate having it up by the end of June.”

    So, hopefully, we’ll soon have something to reference as a resource. Now, I don’t know if this will be something like an interactive wiki that would allow people to add papers (avoid any biases someone mentioned in comments above). But, imo, it’s at least a beginning! I’ll ask Cynthia to keep me in the loop and will pass on updates (though I’d hope they’d plaster the unveiling announcement everywhere ;-).

  66. thanks for the update!

    i’ve been too busy to think more about a wiki, but i think it’s still a good idea and could probably be linked to + integrated with the database…

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