Who is it down to?

Recently I have read a number of comments on the web about women not submitting papers to conferences. The authors seemed to think that women had a responsibility to join in on conferences, and help improve conferences themselves. Otherwise “they only have themselves to blame” for all male conferences. It’s down to them/women.

I’ve had tons of discussions of this situation and, being a slow thinker, I’m only just seeing something odd about it. Or perhaps it was the suggestion that women are to blame for all male conferences that made me rethink. One way of putting what’s odd is that it assumes a direction of causation, one that goes from women not submitting to conferences being all male and even uninviting to women.

What is odd can be seen, perhaps, from comparing these two statements:

1. Women in general do not submit papers to philosophy conferences and this is a factor that keeps the profession largely male and uninviting to women in both substances and form.

2. The philosophy profession is largely male and uninviting to women in both substance and form; therefore, women in general do not submit papers to conferences.

Could the latter be true? Ha!

The second way of describing the situation seems to me to make it clearer that we all have something of an obligation to try to make the forums for expression in the profession more hospital to all the non-represented groups. Otherwise, we are participating in a practice that does not look all that good.


I’m traveling today from Galveston and Houston, and then back. The last time I did this – two weeks ago – I was in a fairly minor but very burdensome accident. So wish we luck, please, and worry a bit if I don’t respond to any comments. Driving a Texas freeway is sometimes challenging.

“One Classroom, Two Genders”

“One Classroom, Two Genders” Interesting reflections by Jennifer Finney Boylan on how gender norms and expectations factor into teaching from the perspective of someone who has taught as a man and as a woman.  Also, age.  For her, age seems to have brought some freedom, but surely also brings some challenges.