There’s a great comment from Ned Markosian buried in the discussion on the Ammonius Foundation thread about how a little bit of outreach or encouragement to female philosophers can go a long way. So to keep it from staying buried, I’m giving it a post all its own:
I think it is worth keeping in mind that it takes only a little bit of outreach effort to ensure that a healthy number of women submit papers to a conference, apply for a grant, etc. The program committee for the Bellingham Summer Philosophy Conference typically sends emails to a select number of women to let them know that we would especially value submissions from them (with no suggestion of special treatment or anything like that), and this seems to work pretty well. We tend to get lots of papers from women, and all the papers are then reviewed by referees who do not know anything about the identities of the authors. Two year’s ago the eventual gender breakdown among accepted authors was 5 men and 4 women; last year it was 3 men and 6 women.
Given that such minimal outreach efforts can generate such results, I think we should all be reluctant to justify ongoing gender imbalances merely by saying that very few women submitted or applied. There is usually more that can be done.