PhiloSTEM-4 Another Gendered Conference, sigh

The Midwest Workshop in Philosophy of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is sporting an all male list of invited speakers.

The call for papers is gracious, inviting novel contributions to philosophy of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) including those from a historical perspective.  It continues:

Since the emphasis is not on “reading” a paper but on having a dialogue with the participants, presentations should be prepared for a general audience in the philosophy of science and presenters must be ready to break things down for non-specialists.

The absence of women here makes me particularly sad because (1) there is so much work being done on the under-representation of women in STEM, and so little representation of  and engagement with that work in philosophy of STEM, and (2) this cfp has such a nice emphasis on open dialogue that it seems like it could have a  good climate for women speakers.

It is important to note that previous PhilosSTEM workshops have invited a couple of women.  So, we know it can be done.

As a reminder, here is a description of the Gendered Conference Campaign and here is a list of FAQs. If you are new to the Gendered Conference Campaign please take a look at them so we don’t have to rehash old arguments in the comments.

3 thoughts on “PhiloSTEM-4 Another Gendered Conference, sigh

  1. If you want to know why there are not more women scientists, read this: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/good-thinking/201206/have-feminists-really-sold-young-women-fiction-0

    Here is a quote from that blog: Here is how Michelle Obama put it when describing the reasons underlying a dearth of female scientists in her 2011 speech to the National Science Foundation: “Women account for 47% of new PhDs in the sciences, but only 28% of tenured positions…Family formation, notably marriage and childbirth or adoption of children accounts for the major loss of female talent from the job pool between receipt of PhD and achievement of a tenured position in the sciences.”

    I strongly suspect this issue is not going to be addressed at the conference.

  2. There is actually lots of work on women in STEM. Here is a place to look: http://www.portal.advance.vt.edu/.

    What follows is a quotation from a NSF ADVANCE brochure (http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2009/nsf0941/nsf0941.pdf)

    “Research* has shown that women’s representation and advancement in academic STEM positions are affected by many external factors that are unrelated to their ability, interest, and technical skills, such as:
    • Organizational constraints of academic institutions;
    • Differential effects of work and family demands;
    • Implicit and explicit bias; and
    • Underrepresentation of women in academic leadership and decision­making positions.
    The cumulative effect of such diverse factors has been to create barriers that impact the number of women entering and advancing in academic STEM careers.”

    So, while gender inequity regarding challenges of work-life balance is an important issue, it is only one, and it is closely tied to the structure of academic institutions, which is a topic in the social epistemology of science.

    This was not the main reason why I wrote the post (I wanted to call attention to another gendered conference), it was just a musing about why this particular gendered conference made me sad.

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