Some day soon I will not be spending so much time on this, I tell myself that. But for now, I need to tell you about some ways that the site visit team and the APA CSW have been presented a little bit misleadingly in the media. This is important, because the site visit program is important, and it’s vital not to misunderstand.
First, there’s an Inside Higher Ed story which includes an interview with Peggy DesAutels, one of the organisers of both the site visit program and the Colorado visit. IHE writes:
“At the same time, DesAutels said that the situation at Colorado was so bad that she saw a positive side to the report’s release. “In this particular case, for Colorado, the profession is better off knowing about this,” she said.
This may give the misleading impression that DesAutels supports the release of the report, and that she commented on the specifics of the Colorado case. Both of these are false. The fuller context is that she refused to comment on any specifics of the situation at Colorado. She was then asked to comment on what the negative and positive effects of this particular public release might be. She said that it might be beneficial simply because it documents a problematic environment and steps that might be taken to improve it.
Then there’s the Chronicle story, behind a firewall. Here Hilde Lindemann, chair of the APA’s Committee on the Status of Women, is quoted simply as saying “It is absolutely breathtaking that they did this,” leaving the reader to speculate about what took her breath away. I asked, and she explained that she was referring to was the fact that “the administration is taking steps to change the institutional structures to make the climate more hospitable to women, rather than targeting specific people who are seen to be bad actors. I would like to think that they are taking these steps as a matter of course, but in the current climate, it’s remarkable that they are seeing it as a problem of climate that affects everyone, victims, innocent bystanders, and bad actors alike.”
It’s taken two days for the discussion of the Boulder situation to really sink it. I think that a number of recent blog posts and articles are stressing the more general fact that philosophy as a field can be nasty and brutish for women, if not short. People of color, members of the GLBT community have also suffered, and similarly for the disabled and the elderly. And no doubt others I’m failing to think about. For those of us who have worried about the situation for years or even decades, the fact that a bright national light is fixed on it is at least a relief.
But then many of us have actually suffered in ways that have heavily impacted our careers. And at some point, the present discussion may well bring it back. I know it has for me this morning. So what to do?
There’s short-term advice: things that can help include exercise (maybe walking if you can), talking to friends, distracting yourself with something you like – download a movie, play music, get a good novel, etc. Writing about it can also help, and here we have an excellent resource, the What is it Like to be a Woman in Philosophy blog. Even if you have already described your experience, I think there’s room there for something more general, along the lines of “how my life has been impacted.” In fact, I think I’ll go over there soon.
We’re keeping comments closed. Otherwise we’ll be a conduit for misinformation. But that shouldn’t stop you from using our “contact us,” and letting us know what more we should be saying.
From our old friend Eric Schliesser, here.
Professor Zimmerman regrets inviting “those people.” He means the members of the American Philosophical Association Committee’s on the Status of Women (CSW), Site Visit Program. Those people are fellow professional philosophers, Professor Zimmerman. Nobody within professional philosophy wishes a “public spectacle” on you and your colleagues; we all recognize that many more of us may be next in line (see Prof. Leiter’s comment above). It’s also pretty clear that the CU’s administration is, perhaps unfairly, not playing nice with you.* But Professor Zimmerman, “those people,” speak on behalf of all of us; in fact, they represent what is most noble within professional philosophy–the desire not just to talk and publish about philosophy, but to live a life of integrity and justice, that is, wisdom. – See more at: http://digressionsnimpressions.typepad.com/digressionsimpressions/2014/02/the-irretrievable-shame-of-professional-philosophy.html#sthash.nHyIWWtH.dpuf
Some of our readers have noticed that we closed comments on threads related to the recent news about Colorado’s site-visit report. We don’t have time to give moderating those discussions the attention they require. Comments regarding this posted on other threads here will be deleted.