About the APA: “Whose names did you hear?”

And if you didn’t go to the APA, you might think about recent conferences, department discussions, books, etc.

The title comes from that of a post on What is it like to be a Women in Philosophy.  The author remarks:

It seems that when male philosophers propose theories, even very implausible ones, they are given weight in the way that women doing the same simply are not. In my field for example, I have proposed something like a theory of X. Now there are male philosophers who are also working on problems related to X, whose names one hears constantly, who regularly appear on lists of plenary speakers at meeting related to X, whose names then get attached to theories, which people then write about etc. But I can only think of one woman whose ideas are discussed in the literature. And this is not a small field…

Male philosophers seem to enter “the discussion,” if not the canon; women philosophers rarely do.

There is a similar post a little more recent than this one, A Powerful, Subtle Way to Exclude Women.

Each post points to a possibly very wide-spread practice.  In fact, I would say it definitely is one.  If so, it is one of those injustices that those who experience may see much more clearly than those who benefit from it do.   Mitigating its effects is also part of the motivation of the gendered conference campaign (see the pages above). 

So what did you hear at the APA or elsewhere recently?  Is the practice widespread? Do uou think it is unjust?  Damaging?  And is it part of what leads women to leave the field?  After all, if it is widespread, it also carries information about who is not likely to succeed in the field.  On realizing what happens to women’s work, one might well think that succeeding in the field should not matter in one’s life.

Here we go again: Should toys be gendered?

In the NY Times, Peggy Orenstein asks, “Should the World of Toys Be Gender-Free?”After at least one non-sequitur:

Hamleys, which is London’s 251-year-old version of F.A.O. Schwarz, recently dismantled its pink “girls” and blue “boys” sections in favor of a gender-neutral store with red-and-white signage. Rather than floors dedicated to Barbie dolls and action figures, merchandise is now organized by types (Soft Toys) and interests (Outdoor).

That free-to-be gesture was offset by Lego, whose Friends collection, aimed at girls, will hit stores this month with the goal of becoming a holiday must-have by the fall. … the line features new, pastel-colored, blocks that allow a budding Kardashian, among other things, to build herself a cafe or a beauty salon. ….

So who has it right? Should gender be systematically expunged from playthings? Or is Lego merely being realistic, earnestly meeting girls halfway in an attempt to stoke their interest in engineering?

And at least one citation of very questionable science as fact (see our post here):

Toy choice among young children is the Big Kahuna of sex differences, one of the largest across the life span. It transcends not only culture but species: in two separate studies of primates, in 2002 and 2008, researchers found that males gravitated toward stereotypically masculine toys (like cars and balls) while females went ape for dolls.

She makes some interesting points:

Preschoolers may be the self-appointed chiefs of the gender police, eager to enforce and embrace the most rigid views… [And]Traditionally, toys were intended to communicate parental values and expectations, to train children for their future adult roles. Today’s boys and girls will eventually be one another’s professional peers, employers, employees, romantic partners, co-parents. How can they develop skills for such collaborations from toys that increasingly emphasize, reinforce, or even create, gender differences? What do girls learn about who they should be from Lego kits with beauty parlors or the flood of “girl friendly” science kits that run the gamut from “beauty spa lab” to “perfume factory”?

So: children’s adherence to certain types of toys may be a product of policing done by children, presumably children keen on adult approval, and the traditional gendered toys can be seen as tools for training children for traditional roles, which is of questionable benefit.

Good place for critical race theory and postcolonial studies?

Query from a reader:

I am a regular reader of this blog, and I’d like to appeal to my fellow readers for some advice.

I am currently finishing my dissertation, and I have my mind set on preparing a new project at the intersection of political philosophy, critical race theory and postcolonial studies. The latter two fields are quite new to me, and I am thinking it might be a good idea for me to consider a research stay abroad at an institution which has faculty who are specialized in these fields. I am thinking of the US/Canada, but I would welcome any other suggestions (my impression is that in continental Europe these fields are fairly underdeveloped, but I might just be very ill-informed).

It would be great if these places would have a vibrant feminist community as well :) (I am trained in philosophy and women’s studies)

I am hoping that my fellow readers might come up with some names of institutions/scholars that would be a good place to go (and that might be interested in a visiting scholar)