I had a really interesting conversation recently with some male graduate students and younger male faculty about how they could best support their female colleagues. I wish I’d had more to say – I find the issue a really tricky one – so I’m hoping comments here will provide some further insight.
Step 1, of course, is don’t be a sexist bigot.
Step 2 is to be aware that your own sexist bigotry may not always and everywhere be immediately transparent to you. (Yes, even though you’re a philosopher. Wild.)
But these guys were great, and pretty much up to speed with steps 1 and 2. They were most concerned with navigating the complicated and perhaps more nuanced step 3: be supportive and encouraging of your female colleagues without coming across like a condescending asshole.
Do you go out of your way to interact philosophically with your female colleagues, to follow up on points they’ve made in seminars, to call on them in q&a? Or does that just make you seem like you’re coddling them?
Do you intervene when you see a male colleague being a sexist jerk? Or does that just make it look like you think your female colleague can’t stand up for herself?
How, in short, does the well-meaning male philosopher do his best to be an ally to his female colleagues?
Comments are open – thoughts welcome!