Axel Mueller writes:
Dear everyone interested in supporting means for reducing the underrepresentation of women in conferences, lists of departmental invitees, etc.,
when recently, the Gendered Conference Campaign made higher waves in the blogworld, and after having read quite a number of contributions to related topics, one excuse that was extremely common refers constantly to a lack of information about women philosophers in the relevant fields when one, e.g., organizes a conference and thinks about speakers to invite. Some field, it is repeatedly claimed, just don’t have the high profile female presence to allow one’s planning to heed constraints of professionalism and GCC-commitments. Therefore, sorry as one is, and supportive of GCC as one would be, it’s impossible.
Not that this sort of comments were new in the history of attempts to remove obstacles to underrepresentation anywhere, by anyone. It’s actually a very effective ploy as long as the consequences of discriminatory practices are still firmly in place and there really do not EXIST enough people of the underrepresented group to staff certain necessary venues. However, in the case of female philosophers, there is, although of course there are TOO FEW women in professional philosophy to regard it as BALANCED, only a problem of too little INFORMATION. It is simply untrue that there are not enough women in professional philosophy, of ANY level of prestige and seniority one might fancy as an organizer, in just about any field. The fact is that this is simply very little known and very slowly communicated within the profession at large. Currently, there are many efforts underway for specific lists of women in philosophy which I liked very much, but it blew my mind when I came across the one generated by a project at UNESCO, which actually is a HUGE, CATEGORIZED INTERNATIONAL LIST OF PROFESSIONAL FEMALE PHILOSOPHERS:
I would like to issue two calls for action in this connection:
(1) To bring this list –and the UNESCO initiative Women in Philosophy– to the attention of all philosophy departments and chairs, with an accompanying invitation to use this list when organizing events.
(2) To widely publicize among graduate students, colleagues, administrators and activists the appeal to encourage women (or, in some cases, oneself!) to sign up in/for this list so it may soon become the most comprehensive authoritative reference point for international organizers of philosophy events, but also anyone else who needs information about women in philosophy.
I really think this list –also because it has appraently no regional, thematic or other biases– is a great idea for the general and international cause of removing underrepresentation of women in philosophy, and it might, over time, remove the ploy of there not being enough women in philosophy to try to invite one to do XYZ. One would simply stare at the proponent of such thesis in disbelief and say “but have you really not heard of the UNESCO list of women in philosophy with about 5000 people in all fields and levels of expertise?”. What a nice image…