A former student of mine recently wrote from one of the London universities that all the women seemed to be doing ancient philosophy. I wondered if it was still the case that women were being steered to the history of philosophy, rather than the standard “male, hard” areas, such as metaphysics, epistemology and phil of language.
Someone even more recently queried the idea that women were being so steered in, say, the 60’s to the 80’s or beyond. I think I’ve heard tons of anecdotes, but I’m wondering whether anything has been written about this tendency. And is it still going on?
I will say that I finished my doctorate thinking of myself as a metaphysician. The first papers I published, however, were from the historical footnotes in my thesis. Even then the one reviewer for one of them said it was too implausible to be published. Talk about feeling out of place! He was overruled, thank goodness.
Please let us know what you know about yourself or other women being encouraged to do history of phil.
Please note that nothing here is meant to say that history is somehow easy. As we learned from recent scholars like Margaret Wilson, doing history well is extremely demanding.