Some further reflections on the Healy data

Kieran Healy has posted some interesting further discussion of his citation data here. Some particularly interesting (especially for readers of this blog) discussion pertains to post-2000 patterns of citations. Healy writes:

Several of the authors are relatively young. Here, “Young” means they got their Ph.Ds in the 1990s or later. Working down the list, these younger people include: Sider, Hawthorne, Stanley (several times), Pryor, DeRose, Fantl, Noe, Hitchcock, Hajek, Cappelen, Merricks, Dowe, Rysiew, O’Connor, and Paul. (I may have missed one or two: please email me corrections.) There is one woman amongst the lot. The only other item published in the 2000s and written by a woman is by an established philosopher, Lynne Rudder Baker. Some of this recent work by relatively younger men—John Hawthorne (Ph.D ‘91), Ted Sider (Ph.D ‘93), Jason Stanley (Ph.D ‘95), Keith DeRose (Ph.D ‘90) and Jim Pryor (Ph.D ‘97)—even manages to crack the twenty-year Top 100, and in three cases the Top 50. That’s pretty impressive. Notably, the most-cited work by a 90s-cohort Ph.D is not on this list, because it was published in 1996. This is The Conscious Mind by David Chalmers (Ph.D ‘93).

By contrast, we have to go down to joint 440th to find a well-cited paper authored in the 2000s by a—in fact, the only—woman from a comparable Ph.D cohort. This is by Paul (Ph.D ‘99). One of the reasons this is a little awkward is that I am married to this particular data point. I hope I don’t need to emphasize that my wife has had no involvement in the data collection or analysis presented in any of these posts. Incidentally, I didn’t expect there to be so few women in the Top 500. I thought the prevalence of women would be poor, but not terrible.

If we look further down the dataset to the next 500 most-cited items, there are quite a few items written by women from the 1990s-era Ph.D cohort that all of the highly-cited younger men come from. One clear example, brought to my attention by Brian Weatherson, is the case of Delia Graff Fara (Ph.D ‘97). A prominent and very well-respected philosopher, Graff Fara is a full Professor at Princeton working in one of the general areas regularly published in our four journals. She is an obvious case of a very successful woman with a Ph.D from the 1990s who—to Brian’s and many people’s surprise—failed to have an item in the top 500. She is not the only such case. It’s not that her work isn’t cited. She has one paper in the dataset with eight citations, and another with seven. It just isn’t cited enough.

She isn’t alone. Just below the threshold in the data are items by senior women philosophers such as Jennifer Hornsby, Margaret Gilbert, Rae Langton, Karen Neander, Elizabeth Fricker, and Robyn Carston, together with more work by Ruth Millikan, Christine Korsgaard, Linda Zagzebski, Judith Jarvis Thomson, Nancy Cartwright, Susan Haack, and the linguist Angelika Kratzer. Restricting ourselves to items by women with Ph.Ds from the 1990s or later, we find the lower 500 contains work by Nomy Arpaly (Ph.D ‘98), Tamar Gendler (Ph.D ‘96), Miranda Fricker (D.Phil ‘96), Rosanna Keefe (Ph.D ‘97), Helen Beebee (Ph.D ‘96), and Karen Bennett (Ph.D ‘00).

This pattern of results cannot demonstrate, but in my view does suggest, the hypothesis that the process at work here—even in recent years—is not one where women cannot be cited because they simply don’t exist in the relevant subfields favored by journals. Rather, women publish, yet their work is not cited. Citation is not the only measure of success. One can be highly placed without necessarily being highly cited. And, of course, by definition not everyone can be a citation star. But given how easy it is to cite people, this only makes the gender disparity all the more stark. It is very surprising to see only male philosophers from the ’90s cohort so well-represented in the Top 500, and even the Top 100. The 1990s were not the 1950s. And yet essentially none of the women from this cohort are cited in the conversation with anything close to the same frequency, despite working in comparable areas, publishing in comparable venues, and even in many cases having jobs at comparable departments.

And while we’re busy reflecting on all this data and what it does or doesn’t mean, I’d like to take the opportunity to publicly thank Kieran Healy for providing such a fantastic resource for philosophy and philosophers. You’ve done us all a massive favor, Prof. Healy!

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