Women speakers and equality at home

Catarina Dutilh Novaes has a really interesting post up, discussing one factor that may contribute to women turning down conference invitations more than men do (if indeed they do– we just don’t know).

[that] women are simply too caught up in domestic endeavors, and thus cannot easily make the necessary arrangements for even a short absence from home…. Indeed, I have heard of many talented female philosophers that they did not travel *at all* for conferences or otherwise while their children were still young (what counts as ‘young’ is of course highly relative). Interestingly, in chap. 8 of ‘Delusions of Gender’, Cordelia Fine reports on a study of faculty at the University of California, which revealed that female faculty with children reported “working fifty-one hours a week at their jobs and another fifty-one hours a week doing housework and childcare – that’s a 102-hour week, accounting for more than fourteen hours per day. […] Faculty fathers, by contrast, put in only thirty-two unpaid work hours a week.” (p. 92/3) No wonder that these women cannot be absent for a few days for conferences and other work-related trips: they are responsible for the largest chunk of the domestic endeavors, and the general perception is that things would simply just fall apart if they are not there. Chaps. 7 and 8 offer additional data on how gender equality on the domestic front is still far from being a reality.

Go join in the discussion!

(And yes, it does seem to be NewAPPS week here at FP. No bad thing either, if you ask me.)

4 thoughts on “Women speakers and equality at home

  1. I found this particularly interesting:
    CW: Philosophers generally begin with some version of earliest childhood or our so-called primitive human nature as sealed in a narcissistic bubble. It is as though children only gradually emerge into a social world. A third and final stage of moral or philosophical maturity then loosens again the bonds that connect the individual to communal sources of attachment, and emphasizes techniques or practices of detachment from body, affect, culture, history, others. According to a wide spectrum of traditional philosophical views, initially asocial but dependent children mature into asocial but independent adults. Ideally, they grow away from the mother, who represents dependency. Of course, this is a simplification, but contrast the view of us humans as one of the more social animal species. It’s not about a series of binaries — merged or separate, dependent or independent — but as interdependent with others throughout our lives. In raising my children I do not see them as primarily self-centered or altruistic, as rational or irrational, but as always needing rich friendships to thrive.

    Thanks for the Link!

  2. I travel a lot to get AWAY from my family (yes, my kids are now teens, but this has been a pattern for awhile, plus one isn’t fully a teen). It’s the best time to (a) get some work done, and (b) stay in an uncluttered space with no one making immediate unpredictable demands.

  3. Sally, I know what you mean! Something similar holds of me: my trips to conference are in fact a crucial element for my overall sanity. I think it’s great to be adopting a different role other than ‘mom’ for a few days. It’s not only about getting work done, but actually also of being my own person for a while. (Maybe I’m sounding like a first-wave feminist here :) ). I have a self-imposed rule of not traveling for work more than once a month, which does mean I decline invitations if there is already something scheduled for that month. But I have no issues admitting that one of the big attractions of going to conferences is to be able to adopt a slightly different persona for a few days (of course, I keep track of things at home and call regularly, but it is still a big change, and one that is good for me).

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