Salaries and suffering: top administrator’s salaries and the university

From the NY Times:

A report from the Institute for Policy Studies, a research group, says that the presidents at the 25 public universities that pay their presidents the most have seen their compensation soar since 2008. The average pay for presidents at all public research universities is hardly shabby, increasing by 14 percent, to $544,554, between 2009 and 2012. But average compensation for the presidents at the 25 highest-paying universities increased by a third, to $974,006.

The study makes some disturbing observations about “the top 25.” Student debt is worse than at other schools. Administrative spending is twice the spending on student aid. The percentage of tenured faculty members fell dramatically, while part-time adjunct faculty increased more than twice as fast as the national average for all universities. The “worst overall offenders,” the study said, were Ohio State, Penn State, the University of Minnesota, the University of Michigan and the University of Delaware.

Note: it isn’t clear from the reporting whether the universities in “the top 25” each have all of these problems, or whether each has at least some.

Committee on the Status of Women: a CFP


The APA’s Committee on the Status of Women:  Call for Papers

Diversity in Philosophy

May 28-30, 2015

Villanova Conference Center

Villanova University

The APA/CSW conference seeks to examine and address the underrepresentation of women and other marginalized groups in Philosophy. Participants are invited to focus on hurdles and best practices associated with the inclusion of underrepresented groups. Deadline for submissions of 250-500 word proposal is January 1, 2015

Suggested topics include:

  1. Subverting canons, old and new
    1. Undergraduate pedagogy
    2. Graduate pedagogy
    3. Continuing education for established philosophers
  2. Critical thinking, epistemic diversity & relativism
    1. Ethical and epistemic benefits to creating diverse philosophical communities
  3. Theoretical and quantitative empirical approaches to inclusion and exclusion
    1. Stereotype threat
    2. Implicit bias
    3. Ideal worker/philosopher
    4. Creating and using demographic data
    5. Collaborating with social scientistse44
  4. The consequences of sexual, gender, racial, disability, and sexuality harassment
    1. Implications for survivors
    2. Implications for departments/communities in which there is harassment
    3. Implications for the discipline
    4. Bystander training (empowering community members to create an environment that doesn’t tolerate harassment)
    5. Analyses of cronyism and alienation for women and members of other marginalized groups
  5. Intersectionality
    1. Structural intersectionality in the academy
    2. Putting intersectional analysis to work in the profession
    3. Political intersectionality transforming the discipline
  6. Embracing the range of philosophical careers
    1. Academic philosophers outside 4-year colleges and universities)
    2. Philosophers in other disciplines


Additional features of the APA/CSW 2015 Conference:

  • Held in conjunction with the 2015 Hypatia Conference, Exploring Collaborative Contestations.
  • Professional workshops on publishing feminist philosophy in journals, anthologies, books, blogs, and more hosted by the Hypatia Local Board.
  • The APA Diversity Summit, May 29, 2015 during the conference!
  • Workshop on sexual harassment and bystander training
  • The APA Diversity Summit: May 29th
  • APA/CSW Site Visit Training: May 31st at Villanova
  • Modest travel Grants available for presenters in need


Conference website:

Accessibility planning in action – please contact conference coordinator


Co-sponsored by Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy and

the College of Arts and Sciences – Villanova University


Not All Men explained

If you’re like me, you have sufficiently hip social media contacts that you see the new memes fairly early on, but are not yourself sufficiently hip to always know right away how to parse those memes. Indeed, if you’re like me, you’ll need to see a couple of tokens of a new meme-type before you even realize that it is a meme-type.

Such it was for me when I first saw an instance of the “Not All Men” meme on a friend’s Facebook wall. It might have looked something like this:

The Kool-Aid man bursts through a wall. In a speech balloon, he says, "Not all men!"

I didn’t get it. Then I saw another instance:

A scene from the movie Jaws. A giant shark rest on the back of a small boat, half in and half out of the water. In a speech balloon, he says "Not all men!"

Ah, a meme. I dutifully Googled the phrase. Here for my fellow non-cognoscenti is the useful explanation of the meme by Kelsey McKinney I found over at Vox.

In brief, the “Not All Men” meme is internet feminism’s response to that inevitable, boring moment in a conversation about gender inequities in which some man objects, “But I’m a man and I don’t do that.” McKinney helpfully details the history of the meme, explains the phenomenon the meme is skewering, and diagnoses exactly what’s wrong with the “I don’t do that” response. According to McKinney, it’s a variety of interrupting — perhaps a subspecies of so-called mansplaining — that derails the conversation.

To the reader who asks “So, what can I do?” McKinney advises:

You can not interrupt, because interrupting is rude, and use that time instead to think about whether or not injecting “not all men” is going to derail a productive conversation.

There. Now we’re all hip and in-the-know (until the next meme comes along).

What happens at border crossings if your children don’t share your name.

The Guardian’s The Women’s Blog reports that over the last five years, an estimated 600 000 women have been stopped at border control because they were travelling under a different name from their children. This could be because they had divorced the children’s fathers, and had to revert to their previous surname, or because they had never changed their name in the first place but the children had taken their father’s name.

One of the women mentioned in the article, Helen Perry, who was stopped at the UK border in 2010 while travelling with her children, has launched the Parental Passport Campaign, asking for the optional addition of parents’ or guardians’ names on a child’s passport.

The article doesn’t mention fathers, but one can only assume that a man travelling alone with a child who does not share his name might also attract a certain amount of suspicion!

Until this is resolved I am keeping copies of their birth certificates in my children’s passports!



Is it fair to use reference letters in a job search? Pros and cons

There’s a great post at Justice Everywhere by feminist philosopher Anca Gheaus on the pros and cons of using reference letters in a job search. Some of the pros: they give us a better idea about the kind of philosophical training the candidate received and allow search committees to usefully supplement the details they can glean from a candidate’s c.v. Some cons: reference letters can reproduce biases and hierarchies within the discipline.

Considering dozens, sometimes hundreds, of applications for one position is an onerous task, so it is appealing to take pedigree into consideration because this is an expedient method to decide whom to short-list or even whom to hire. […] But this is unfair to candidates: those who weren’t supervised by influential letter-writers, or who otherwise didn’t make their work sufficiently know to an influential letter-writer, have fewer chances on the job market. Moreover, relying on letters of reference can also be bad for quality, to the extent to which letters fail to closely track merit. This kind of problem will not entirely go away just by eliminating reference letters – the prestige of a candidate’s university will continue to matter – but [its] dimensions would be more modest.

For a change, it’s worth reading not only the original post, but also the comments, where a lively and thoughtful discussion on the matter is unfolding.

Why are there so few women in philosophy?

    The data on doctorates is telling. According to recent research the number of women receiving doctorates in philosophy is very near the bottom of the academic barrel.

    This blog has been looking at many facets of this problem. See our discussions of research here and here, for example. Or search our site for posts on implicit bias and stereotype threat.

    New research is opening up our understanding of another factor, which resides in the beliefs about one’s ability to succeed in a career:

    The decision to pursue a career rests in part on how we judge the following inequality:



    If we believe this inequality to be true, we might proceed; if we decide it’s false, we might look elsewhere. Importantly, however, neither side of this inequality is easy to evaluate. Abilities are nebulous, context-sensitive things that are notoriously problematic to pin down. As a result, we often look to others for clues, leaving the door open for substantial social and cultural influences on career choices. A symposium at the 2014 SPSP conference in Austin highlighted a number of recent findings that link sociocultural influences on people’s assessment of the inequality above to the presence of gender gaps.

    How do we get from sociocultural influences on this formula all the way to gender gaps? First, and most obviously, contemporary culture is rife with stereotypes about differences in men’s and women’s cognitive profiles; these stereotypes shape people’s beliefs about the quantity on the left-hand side (that is, the abilities they are likely to possess). Second, and less often discussed, practitioners of different careers may send different messages about the abilities that are required to reach the highest levels of achievement in their particular field; these messages shape people’s beliefs about the quantity on the right-hand side (that is, the abilities required for success). Putting these two elements together, we might make the following claim: One circumstance that gives rise to a gender gap in a career or discipline is when a gender group is stereotyped to lack an ability that the people in that discipline believe is essential for success.

    The post from which the quote above comes comes is full of interesting ideas and results. It’s a must read for anyone interested in the questions concerning access and opportunity.

    Here are some snippets:

    In some disciplines success may be seen as depending on sustained effort and dedication, whereas in others it may be seen as requiring a “gift” or brilliance that cannot be taught. Because women are stereotyped as being less likely than men to possess innate intellectual talent, they may find the academic fields that emphasize brilliance as the key to success to be unwelcoming. [note that the claim here is that the fields themselves may seem less welcoming. This seems different from the conclusions of Carol Dweck that we discuss in our Psychology of Philosophy section.]

    – Regardless of the purported cognitive differences men and women, or of the abilities purportedly required to become a physicist vs. a psychologist vs. an anthropologist, the mere presence of (1) different societal beliefs about the intellectual abilities of men and women, and (2) different societal beliefs about the intellectual abilities required for success in different fields will be sufficient to give rise to (or at least exacerbate) gender gaps.

    Stereotypes may have many different sources. To the extent that they contain messages about ability, this research says they may quite significantly affect career choices. Though the research is specifically about gender, we should keep it in mind as we think about issues such as the incredibly low representation of blacks in higher education in The Uk. Or the abled body whiteness of US philosophy.

    (Thanks to BL.)

Driving while pregnant?

From The Economist, “OVER the years, pregnant women have asked Donald Redelmeier, at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital, about the dangers of scuba diving, hot tubs, flying, mountaineering, cycling, bear attacks and all sorts of other exotic risks. But they never worry about road accidents. His new study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, suggests they should.Dr Redelmeier and his colleagues wanted to know if pregnancy makes a woman driver more likely to be involved in a car crash. So they examined data from the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, which records health visits for the Canadian province’s 13m residents. The researchers looked for women who, in the months before giving birth, visited a hospital emergency unit after a car accident in which they had been driving. They then looked at those women’s hospital visits in the three years before becoming pregnant and for one year following the birth.They found that being pregnant made the women 42% more likely to be in a serious car crash. The risk peaked in the fourth month of pregnancy. It seems that being pregnant is about as dangerous for drivers as having sleep apnoea, which causes people to snore and choke themselves awake throughout the night, leaving them tired during the day.”

Read the rest here.

I don’t know whether I’m more worried about the facts of this story or how those facts will be taken up in our society. As a friend nervously joked about a future in which pregnant women are banned from driving, women might have to take a breathalyzer test and pee on a strip.

Has anyone read any critical analysis of this story, either about the research itself or about the way it’s being framed? It certainly can’t help in countries in which women’s right to drive is controversial.



Memorial at conference: “Blindness: Philosophy, Therapy, and Music”

From David White (St. John Fisher College), regarding a memorial work to Dr. Adrienne Asch, who died this past year:

I was one of Adrienne’s friends from high school in Ramsey, NJ, and kept in touch through the years. My last outing with Adrienne was to see the play, “Red.” As part of my sabbatical project, I am organizing a conference, “Blindness: Philosophy, Therapy, and Music,” to celebrate Adrienne’s life and work. The conference will be organized in the open, and will aim to be a model of access, integration, and understanding, from a feminist point of view. If you knew Adrienne in any capacity or have an interest in her work, please let me know what sort of memorial you would like to see; I will make it happen. Thank you.

This notice is being posted exclusively to Feminist Philosophers since it is from you that I first learned of my dear friend’s death. Since Adrienne’s passing, my mother, my brother, and another member of my high school class, all of whom knew and respected Adrienne, have died. Please float the idea of this memorial conference wherever you think Adrienne’s work might be known. Using both face to face personalist communication and modern technology, we have the potential to change the world. I am open as to date, but favor the third Thursday in November, which is the UNESCO World Day of Philosophy.

David White [dwhite at sjfc dot edu]
St. John Fisher College
Rochester, NY

Great minds and ignoble deeds

It is appalling to read about philosophers sexually harassing/assaulting vulnerable people, but is it surprising? An article in yesterday’s New York Times argues that we should not expect better.

The life of an intellectual, Mr. Ignatieff [Michael Ignatieff, the Canadian academic-cum-politician] claims, provides a petri dish for the universal human experiment of thinking, being and doing. It’s a lovely idea. The trouble is that intellectuals seem no better at it than anyone else. They often think great thoughts, while being ignoble characters. Maybe Mill and Berlin and John Dewey were noble characters. But Marx was a serial adulterer, Karl Popper was a pompous narcissist, and Heidegger was a fascist. Elite thinkers, maybe: but as amateurish humans as the rest of us.

I’m not so sure, but there are a lot of issues that need clarification before we’re in a good position to accept or reject the article. Still, there are some points we can make. Great achievements typically require concentration and caring. The idea of caring that extends to what one says and not at all to what one does is puzzling. One expects a great scientist to care very much about the truth of his words. But then what does that care look like if it allows lying in letters of reference to reward sexual compliance?

And isn’t philosophy, at least when it is about human life, different? On the other hand, maybe moral behavior requires more than morally apt thinking. For example, perhaps a capacity for empathy. And a love of truth in one area may co-exist with a capacity for self-deception that enables a lot of borrowing from others. E.g., plagarism.

Perhaps, then, we need to recognize that there are many character flaws that can disconnect behavior from thought. I myself would still, at least at this point in time, like to think that at least for some areas really vicious behavior will mean one does not have the capacity for some great intellectual tasks. But is that really true?

What do you think?

A remarkable example of disconnect was explained recently by Bob Dylan. I thought of him as the voice (or a voice) of a generation of protestors. But, as he has said, that’s not at all what he was doing. He was just a musician. So where did those wonderfully apposite lyrics come from? It was, he says, simply magic.

In fact, many people report a similar experience (I think). As Feymann put it, suddenly boom, boom, the answer is there. Ownership may seem tenuous, and connection with character very problematic.