A reader writes with the following query:
I wanted to pose a question to readers about a situation that I’m sure others have faced before.
I’m a female graduate student in philosophy. In my department, we are expected to host prospective graduate students who make a campus visit. I have recently been asked to host a woman in the coming weeks.
I am very divided about how to respond to this request. On the one hand, I desperately want there to be more women in the department. The percentage of female graduate is already incredibly low and the climate suffers as a result. On the other hand, I could not in good conscience recommend to a female visitor that she join our department. Since I have nothing positive to say about the climate of the department, I don’t think it would be appropriate to play host.
What should I say to a prospective female grad student? Should I lie (directly, or by omission) about the climate so that she will be more likely to accept our offer, and so help contribute to the diversity of the department? Or should I be frank, making it less likely that she will accept our offer? Is there any middle ground? I don’t want to lie, but I also don’t want my department to continue to have so few women.
We would very much welcome thoughts from readers on this issue, but we ask that comments be kept general. Any comments making reference to specific departments or individuals will be edited or removed.