First recorded museum was created by a woman

t quickly dawned on Woolley that this might actually be an ancient museum, the 6th century BCE equivalent of the sorts of institutions that were now sponsoring him. Indeed, a key piece of evidence was how the artifacts were arranged – while they were all mixed up from a temporal perspective, whoever had brought these items together had done so with considerable care and attention.

What sealed the deal was the discovery of the world’s earliest known museum label. In his book, Woolley describes finding clay cylinders in the chamber, each with text written in three different languages, including the language of ancient Sumerian and the more modern (for the period) late Semitic language.


So who was responsible for this ancient wonder full of even more ancient wonders? That honor goes to Princess Ennigaldi, the daughter of King Nabonidus, the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

For more, go here.

Temporary academic work in UK philosophy departments

It’s far from easy if you’re employed as an academic on a temporary basis. Apart from the obvious one – lack of job security – temporary staff face a number of difficulties. Unlike permanent staff, universities offer little if any financial help with relocation, it costs money (lots of it in some cases) to move, moving is stressful and has a negative impact on one’s relationships with family and friends, it’s nigh on impossible to secure a mortgage, there is reduced entitlement to maternity leave, temporary jobs lack possibilities for promotion so one’s salary is either stagnant, or decreases as one has to accept new jobs on a lower wage, pension arrangements are patchy at best, or non-existent.

Moreover, the way in which departments operate makes it almost inevitable that some unlucky folk will be stuck in a cycle of temporary work with all the disadvantages this brings. Hiring committees place a great amount of importance on a person’s research. They want to see a strong publication record, and evidence of the ability to attract grant money. Temporary staff are typically employed primarily to cover teaching, and have much higher teaching loads than permanent staff, often with no research time at all built into their contracts. Universities are increasingly employing temporary staff on short contracts of less than a year, which means that over the summer – when permanent staff are focusing on their research – temporary staff often have to take other jobs to make ends meet. Add to this the fact that temporary staff must continually be applying for the next job – and we all know how long it takes to write a job application. It makes it very difficult to do any research which will enable one to secure a permanent post.

The British Philosophical Association has taken this up, and produced a new policy document outlining the problem, and suggesting ways in which departments can improve the lives of young philosophers.

The document draws on an excellent report written by Dawn Phillips, which sets out the issues in detail, with suggestions for change. You can access it here.

UPDATE: Doh – I’ve just noticed Jender already reported this a few days ago. I’ll leave this post up too, though, as it has more detail than Jender’s.

Police officers acquitted of rape

Apparently because she could walk, the sex could not have been non-consensual:

Although the defense never conceded that the two had sex, a central point of argument in the case was whether the woman was too drunk to consent to sex. Under the prosecutors’ theory of rape, they had to prove that the woman was physically unable to consent to sex, meaning that she was either unconscious or unable to speak when she was penetrated.

Defense lawyers pointed to surveillance footage of the woman walking on her own as she entered the building in front of the officers as evidence that she was conscious and able to communicate.

The officers insist it was “just cuddling” although one admitted to wearing a condom.  As Boing Boing notes, “If you’d like to not have on-duty police officers “cuddle” you when drunk, remember to get so plastered as to be unconscious by the time the cuddle condom comes out”.

(Thanks, Mr Jender!)

The agenda project

The Agenda Project is a NYC based group. You can find their quite vivid videos on Apparently, Fox News thinks the following goes over the top. Compared to their claims, it seems rather mild.

2 milllion hits

UPDATE: Something I should have said below.  It was just a few of us who started this blog, and we never expected to be joined by such an awesome and far-flung team of bloggers.  That’s definitely one of the best things.  That and the awesome far-flung readers.

Sometime this week, we’ll get our two millionth hit.  It seemed to us a good time to reflect on how far we’ve come.  When I started this blog, I didn’t actually expect much of anyone to read it.  I certainly never expected that we’d become one of the top philosophy blogs.  But that’s not what’s pleased me most.  What are the things that have pleased me most?

What have the biggest downsides been?  Well, there are always the trolls and their charming view of feminists, but we just delete ’em.  Then there are all the people who want to tell us what size women they most like to have sex with.  I guess I’m pretty bored with that.

But enough about me.  How about you?

The kind of post that keeps me going

Over on the What We’re Doing blog, I’ve just put up a post that really moved me and made me feel good about what we’re accomplishing through this blog and through What It’s Like.  It’s about a senior male philosopher who became aware of the problems for women in the profession through the Gendered Conference Campaign and the What It’s Like blog.  He’s now going out of his way (in many ways) to support female colleagues.  Here’s one of the things he says:

“The reason I am where I am today is that my best competitors were women who graduated the same year as me. They have all left the profession. You should not.”

I found this both very sad and very heartening.  Sad, obviously, because of all the women who left the profession.  But heartening that he realises his success is partly due to this fact (the sort of thing that’s very hard to acknowledge about oneself), and even more heartening that he’s doing something to keep women in the profession now.

Global Feminist Petition: Take Strauss-Kahn charges seriously

Feminists Demand Freedom from Sexual Assault and Harassment

We agree:

Rape is always about power and domination; it is sexualized violence.

Rape and sexual harassment of women are pervasive at all strata of society and in all corners of the globe. Women will never be fully free and able to enjoy equality with men until this ends. As feminists, we see the arrest of former International Monetary Fund director Dominique Strauss-Kahn on sexual assault charges as an opportunity to increase public awareness and as a wake-up call to renew action against sexual violence, not only in the US where his arrest occurred and in France, where media and many public figures are portraying him as the victim, but around the world.

We join French feminists in saying that just as Strauss-Kahn is innocent until proven guilty, his accuser must also be respected and believed to be credible unless proven false. We commend her employer, Sofitel, and the action of the NYC Police for taking her complaint seriously. We call for feminists around the world to join with her union (New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council Local 6) in collecting funds for legal and daily expenses, as her work is now curbed and life circumstances vastly altered. Contributions can be sent to Judson Memorial Church (attention Women’s Fund) 55 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012-1018.

We also share French feminist indignation at the deliberate and opportunistic confusion of seduction and sexual violence, from Strauss-Kahn’s declaration that he “loves women,” to the journalists and politicians who rally behind this “Great Seducer.” It is outrageous that the allegation of attempted rape during the course of a housekeeper’s work day raises issues about any woman’s life story and sexual history. And portraying powerful Strauss-Kahn as “too civilized” to commit a violent crime plays upon colonial and racist stereotypes vis-à-vis an African immigrant woman.

We adamantly oppose all harassment, sexual violence and rape, and we know that when there is a large discrepancy between the power, the wealth and racial hierarchy of the parties involved, justice is even harder to come by. All rapists and harassers believe they are entitled, and often when they are part of the power elite they assume that influence will outweigh the legal protection and freedom from coercion all women should enjoy. Feminists around the world demand that justice be done.

Women of all countries, unite!

To sign, go here.

Thanks, S!

MP attacks Anne Phillips for encouraging critical reflection

Here’s what Dr Denis MacShane (PhD in Economics from Birkbeck!) said:

Mr MacShane: My hon. Friend mentioned the London School of Economics. Is she aware of its feminist political theory course, taught by Professor Anne Phillips? In week 8 of the course, students study prostitution. The briefing says:

“If we consider it legitimate for women to hire themselves out as low-paid and often badly treated cleaners, why is it not also legitimate for them to hire themselves out as prostitutes?”

If a professor at the London School of Economics cannot make the distinction between a cleaning woman and a prostituted woman, we are filling the minds of our young students with the most poisonous drivel.

Of course, it’ll come as no surprise to readers of this blog that Phillips was not by any means lacking ability to draw this distinction, but instead asking her students to reflect critically on similarities and differences.  The full context:

One might expect feminists to unite in opposition to prostitution, seeing it as the ultimate symbol of male domination. In fact, there has been a more complex debate, part of which takes us back to the discussion of contract. Does a contract make something OK? Or are there certain relationships that remain exploitative, even if the parties voluntarily enter them? On the other side, if we consider it legitimate for women to hire themselves out as low paid and often badly treated cleaners, why is it not also legitimate for them to hire themselves out as prostitutes? If we treat these two occupations differently, does that involve an illegitimate paternalism or moralism? Again, does it mean endorsing some view of the body as sacrosanct, or of women as having a ‘special’ relationship to their body?

Students should divide themselves into two groups, one charged with making the case that prostitution is not significantly different from other forms of labour (ie, that it may be poorly paid and highly dangerous, but isn’t especially exploitative just because it involves sex/ the body); the other charged with opposing this. You should meet together before the session to work out your arguments and how you wish to present them… Each group will have 20 minutes in which to present its case. You may choose to elect two or three people from the group as spokespersons or may prefer a more collective presentation. For this week, we all meet together as a single group for a combined two-hour session.

Sigh.  And, no shock, The Daily Mail has used this as an occasion to ask how we dare to offer Gender Studies courses in a time of budget cuts.

[Expletives deleted.]  Thanks, S!

For more, go here.

Want to earn the big bucks? Don’t be fat and female

From the Grindstone: A new study shows that overweight women are more likely to be paid less in their positions than overweight men. It was also found that overweight women are also more prone to being unemployed. The initial study was conducted in Iceland where the “greatest level of gender equality in terms of health, education, business opportunities and political participation” exists. But the trend isn’t just in Iceland, it’s worldwide.The same study found that overweight men are far less affected by the trend. “If anything, larger men were paid more,” said Michigan professor, Edward Norton. “There is something in western society that seems to penalize women for being overweight,” he continued.

The paper, “Do body weight and gender shape the work force? The case of Iceland” is published in Economics & Human Biology
Volume 9, Issue 2, March 2011, Pages 148-156.

APA-funded investigation of gender gap in philosophy

It is well known that philosophy lags behind all the other humanities, most of the social sciences, and many of the sciences in its gender diversity. Current estimates indicate that women account for around 20% (+ 3%) of philosophers, from graduate students to full professors. There is much less agreement about why the numbers are so low, although untested hypotheses abound.

But while philosophers are very good at generating hypotheses, they have no particular expertise in collecting and analyzing empirical data to test them, especially regarding complex social phenomena such as a gender gap. The Society for Philosophy and Psychology (SPP) is in a unique position to investigate the reason(s) for the gap because it is a cross-disciplinary professional organization whose membership includes psychologists who have the appropriate training for investigating this issue. Independently, the SPP has had an ongoing interest in gender diversity due to the severity of the gap in philosophy of mind and related areas in particular, and has an active diversity committee composed of philosophers and psychologists. The APA’s Committee on the Status of Women has been very active within the APA regarding information on or related to women philosophers (including graduate students). The focus of this project would be to understand the reasons for the gender gap itself.

Our proposal is to use this grant as seed money to develop an empirical study of the gap. The actual study would require further grant money, which we would seek from the NEH, the AAUW, and other sources we are able to identify. The project also has the strong support of the officers and executive committee members of the SPP, who will endeavor to find ways for the SPP to contribute financially within the constraints of its very limited resources.

For more, go here.  (Thanks, L!)