Jennifer Saul, this blog and “What it’s like to be a Woman in Philosophy” in the French press

Le Monde published an article – in its blogs section – on women in American academic philosophy last week.

The gist of it is that the profession is changing, which is true. But the author, Marc Olivier Bherer is perhaps a little over enthusiastic, and at times rather imprecise about the extant of the changes that have already taken place. He writes that it is now an advantage to be a woman at the APA. ‘Blind review’ is described as an innovation – the author means, I think, triple blind.

There is no mention of the state of academic philosophy in either France, francophone Europe, or the rest of the world – in particular no awareness that women in American academic philosophy are probably much better off than they are in many places, including France.

The comments are about as dire as one would expect, perhaps a little worse at times.

9 thoughts on “Jennifer Saul, this blog and “What it’s like to be a Woman in Philosophy” in the French press

  1. Describing a woman philosopher’s job search he says: ‘A Baltimore, le fait d’être femme lui confère cependant un atout’. (‘The fact of being a woman gives her a trump card.’)

    That seems like a somewhat misleading characterization of the way things work.

  2. Nobody wants to be a woman in academia in France! Even more daunting than in North America. And the Europeans have no experience with blind review.

  3. That ‘the Europeans have no experience with blind review’ is an exageration. I published in academic journals edited in France and Belgium and run by local academics and received some excellent comments as a result of blind review. I also did blind review for a Spanish journal. Blind review is not the norm, but it exists.

  4. Thanks for the translation! How frustrating to have that claim about being a women as a trump card!!

  5. I also did not describe philosophy as taking a backward step, since that would suggest we had once been better than this.

  6. The “backward step” I think is something that got lost in translation. The original article simply talks about “retard” which means delay, or lag rather than giving the idea of going backwards. (“to understand why philosophy is so behind” might be a more accurate rendition of the French.)

  7. I think that translating ‘un atout’ as a trump card might be a subtle overstatement, though the suggestion is still that being a woman in philosophy is an asset or a virtue — the suggestion could be that there is some affirmative action in place, but it could also imply something weaker than that.
    I find a helpful site for aiding translations. Here is the link to what it says about ‘un atout’.
    The situation of women within French philosophy ain’t great, but it seems to me to have improved a bit over the past 20 years. There are very few women professors, but there seem to be more women Maitres de Conferences than there used to be.

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