Philosophy at the bottom of yet another list when it comes to including women

Where are we on a list that ranks disciplines by percent of women authors? Oh, right, down at the very bottom. Demography has the highest % of women authors in the social sciences/ humanities. Philosophy, the lowest– behind not only economics but even probability/ statistics, and in the most recent period barely different from math proper. Moral philosophy looks better 19.3% but some of the philosophy of science sub-fields are about 5%. It’s worth browsing through the sub-fields. Notably ‘feminist philosophy’ isn’t even listed as a sub-field of philosophy.

“Women as Academic Authors, 1665-2010

Women’s presence in higher education has increased, but as authors of scholarly papers—keys to career success—their publishing patterns differ from those of men. Explore nearly 1,800 fields and subfields, across four centuries, to see which areas have the most female authors and which have the fewest, in this exclusive Chronicle report. See how overall percentages differ from the important first-author position and—in two major bioscience fields—from the prestigious last-author position. See “About these data” for details.

Source: Gender analysis led by Jevin West and Jennifer Jacquet at the University of Washington’s Eigenfactor Project.”

Thanks Jacob Levy.

8 thoughts on “Philosophy at the bottom of yet another list when it comes to including women

  1. I do suggest that students consider cognitive science. The per centage of women authors is relatively very good. Furthermore, so many topics in philosophy are taken up in cognitive science.

  2. I wasn’t shocked at our comparative ranking–that just tracks numbers of women–but I’m saddened that we publish at a lower rate than our representation. I guess I knew the problems don’t end once women get in but this is just gloomy.

  3. This is fascinating and I could play with it for hours. One thing that struck me is that it looks like there is a relatively low rate of progress in philosophy. For example, pre-1971, philosophy has 5.3% of women-authored publications, which is not great but if you compare 8.9 for history and 4.0 for economics, not wildly out of the ball park. But between 1970 and 1990, history goes up to 18.8 which philosophy manages to stagger along to 7.9. And for the last twenty years, history is up to 30.8, while philosophy has climbed to 12.1 and even econ has exceeded us at 13.7. It does look as though other disciplines are trying harder than philosophy is. But I am not really prepared to draw conclusions at this point.

  4. I’m a little confused about the subfields included and the distribution of authors across subfields, which makes me question how representative the sample of philosophical work used in this study is.

    The OP notes that ‘feminist philosophy’ is not counted as a subfield. Neither is applied ethics, meta-ethics, aesthetics, history of philosophy, political philosophy, philosophy of race, philosophy of religion…The only subfields related to value theory that I spotted were “moral philosophy” and “moral dilemmas”–and only 938 authors are counted as contributing to these subfields since 1665!

    Meanwhile, the noted subfields do include “diophantine problems” (430 authors), “logic and mathmatics” (676), “logical systems” (891), “metalogic” (1,554), “set theory” (910)…

    Perhaps I am out of touch–I did have to look up what a “diophantine problem” is–but this seems to me to be a somewhat imbalanced depiction of the kind of work being done in philosophy. But then, maybe authors who do work related to logic just publish much more frequently than those in value theory? (Not that this would explain the exclusion of, for example, history of philosophy). It also seems that this imbalance would cause the percentage of female authors to appear much lower as it actually is, since I gather logic tends to be more male dominated than subfields like applied ethics and history of philosophy.

  5. I think given the large sample size and the way the sample was drawn (as aselect as you can get) that the slow rate of progress in philosophy *is* significant. Knowing people from cognate fields, such as my sister who did her PhD in nuclear physics, I see that in those disciplines people adopt a more active stance to recruiting and maintaining women. Her department recently hired a woman, mother of 3, as assistant professor. And her male advisor does everything he can to encourage talented female undergrads to start a PhD. I haven’t seen anything like that in philosophy.

  6. I agree with smachel that the subfields are really weird, and maybe not completely representative. The mathematics subfields are bizarre too. One has to wonder how they came up with them.

  7. On the methodology, see here. Apparently they took JSTOR. – the choice of subfields was apparently by hand “Articles have been classified into fields and subfields using the hierarchical map equation method. (This is described in this technical article: The names of each field and subfield have been selected by hand and are not intended as a definitive classification, but rather to provide a general indication of the subject matter. Data was analyzed using the tools EigenfactorClassification, Gender Browser, Hoptree, and Hier_infomap.)

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