The Mentoring Project For Pre-tenure Women Faculty in Philosophy

The call for applications is out for the 3rd Biennial Workshop. The deadline is Feb.1, 2015, and the workshop will be held June 14-16, 2015. I was a participating mentor at the second, and I hope previous mentors and mentees found it as rewarding as I did! UPDATED to add that in light of the erroneous application deadline on the official website, I’m just pasting the invitation to apply here:

Information and Application Instructions

3rd Biennial Workshop
June 14-16, 2015
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Co-Directors: Louise Antony (UMass) and Ann Cudd (Kansas)

There is mounting evidence that mentoring is important for success in academia. The Mentoring Project aims to build long-term mentoring relationships between eminent senior women and junior women in the field of philosophy.

The Mentoring Project conducted its inaugural workshop in 2011 following a model designed by women in the American Economics Association, which has proven remarkably successful. The third biannual philosophers Mentoring Project will again involve a three-day workshop involving small-group intensive working sessions interspersed with plenary panel discussions on professional development and work/life issues.

Mentees will be assigned a networking group consisting of a mentor and four or five fellow mentees working in similar fields. Each mentor will be responsible for providing written feedback on the workshop papers of each of her mentees, and for participating in discussion at the workshop. Mentees will take responsibility for providing written feedback on the papers of their group members, and will serve as discussion leader and first reader for one paper and second reader for another. In the long term, group members will actively monitor the progress of each others’ careers, offering philosophical feedback and, in the case of the mentors, advice about professional development along the way.

Why Attend?

Women are underrepresented in the profession of Philosophy, and many explanations have been offered for this fact. Two recent special issues of journals that address this issue include a virtual issue of Hypatia and a special issue of the Journal of Social Philosophy. Though there are several causes of this imbalance, good mentoring has been found to be important for success in academia, and women do not receive as much of it as men do. The Mentoring Project aims to build long-term mentoring relationships between eminent senior women and junior women in the field of philosophy.

To Apply

To apply for the workshop, send a CV and an abstract of the paper you will discuss with your networking group by email attachment to lantony at  and acudd at with subject line: “Mentoring 2015 application” by Feb. 1, 2015.

In addition, we would appreciate an email from you indicating in the subject line your AOS (you may list two fields in preference order). We need this information in order to invite mentors as soon as possible. You need not say anything in the text; we just need a subject line that reads: “AOS xxx and yyy” where xxx is your first area of expertise, and yyy is your second.

In choosing a paper to discuss, you should take care to choose a paper that is squarely in the area of philosophy that you work in. This is very important because we will place you in a mentoring group according to the topic of your paper. That means that the papers you will read and comment on will also be in that area of philosophy. We will do our best to match members of the cohorts and their mentors, subject to availability and space in the workshop.

  • Eligibility:  Any self-identifying woman entering or holding a faculty position in Philosophy at a college or university. The workshop can accommodate up to forty mentees.
  • Cost: There is no charge for participation in the workshop, but we expect mentees’ home institutions to cover the cost of their transportation, and room and board (est. $325).
  • Accessibility: The Mentoring Project is committed to making the Workshop completely accessible to disabled philosophers. All meeting, dining, and guest rooms are wheelchair accessible. Philosophers needing ASL interpreters or assistive technology are asked to communicate such needs as soon as possible to Louise Antony ( lantony AT ) who is handling local arrangements.

Louise Antony – lantony at
Ann Cudd – acudd at

The Mentoring Project Workshop is a project of the Women in Philosophy Task Force. It is funded by a grant from the American Philosophical Association, and one from the Marc Sanders Foundation, and by the Department of Philosophy at U Mass Amherst, and by the University of Kansas.

Dickheads and Assholes

My impression is that it is more acceptable or at least commonplace in philosophy blog discussions to deploy derisive and often, dare I say it, vulgar name-calling than to call someone rude. This is *only* an impression – part of the purpose of this post is to see if others share it. If it’s right though, I wonder why.

At issue in this is how we choose to frame disapproval of others’ poor social behavior. It may well be the case that there is a kind of informal taxonomy of disapproval, such that “asshole” or “dickhead” picks out something richer and more psychologically elaborate than “rude” would. I suspect I would often find common ground with those who despair of assholes and dickheads in the profession, yet I also despair of words such as “asshole” and “dickhead” being the mode of disapproval.

One reason for this is that using “asshole” and “dickhead” distances the problematic conduct from breaches of ordinary manners, rendering those so labeled some especially objectionable species worthy of its own name and thus diverting attention away from how we all could do better at avoiding impolite gestures and slights. Assholes and dickheads often are just people who have done (or habitually do) rude things (or especially rude things). They breach ordinary good manners, but calling them by a special name elides the ways they do what we all sometimes do: behave rudely (or uncollegially, uncivilly, etc.).

I think the reason we eschew “rude” in favor of “dickhead” or “asshole” may be that rude has lost its cache as a term of disapprobation. It simply doesn’t say anything anyone is likely to care about. Being called a dickhead or asshole is, if not worse, then something to care about (or, in certain benighted circles perhaps, to brag about). But being called rude….? Meh. That is, perhaps part of why being called rude has little force is because manners themselves have little force or, worse, are counted deeply problematic. Call someone rude and you may be associated with pernicious deployments of civility standards; call someone an asshole or dickhead and you’re happily free of all that, simultaneously enforcing a judgment regarding appropriate conduct while also disavowing any association with more formal shared, conventional social standards for such. That seems to me part of what is lost by using “dickhead” and “asshole” – but is anything gained? Is it better (read: more effective, more useful, more…?) to call someone a dickhead or asshole than to call them rude?

[To send queries to Professor Manners, please use the contact tab.]

Mellon Foundation Grant to the APA for diversity initiatives!

Fantastic news!

The American Philosophical Association (APA) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a major grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grant will provide $600,000 over three years to support undergraduate diversity institutes in philosophy, including the expansion of the Philosophy in an Inclusive Key Summer Institute (PIKSI) program and the development of infrastructure to support it and other undergraduate diversity institutes.

Bad Sex: A Feminist Discussion

There’s a very interesting article over at feministe about bad sex. The author, EG, reflects on some extremely negative experiences of sex which were nevertheless consensual. She notes a tendency in sex-positive discourses to presume an exhaustive dichotomy between rape, on the one hand, and enjoyable sex, on the other. This implies that if sex was bad, it must have been rape – which is belied by the author’s experiences (and no doubt by the experiences of many others), as she says:

So why did I keep saying yes?  I didn’t want him to stop liking me (fat chance).  I didn’t want him to think I wasn’t cool.  Nobody else had ever found me attractive.  And while I knew I was smart–I had all kinds of support and validation for that–the idea that somebody thought I was pretty?  Attractive?  Beautiful?  It was powerful.  It was important.  I really, really needed it.  But understand: he never said anything like that.  He never put any pressure on me.  But I still ended up doing things I didn’t want to do and didn’t enjoy.  My decisions were no doubt the result of a misogynist culture that taught me to value myself and my sexuality poorly; they were no doubt the result of rape culture that taught me to prioritize his experiences over my own.  But they were mine.  I was of age.  I consented, repeatedly.  This wasn’t rape.

The author invites feminists to consider this kind of experience. Is it gendered? (Note that it could be gendered without being an experience that is exclusive to women; for example, the bad sex experiences of women and men might have different features or consequences, or be differentially common.) Is it systematic? How does it intersect with issues of race, disability, and trans identity, among other axes of oppression? What power dynamics are or might be at play here, what philosophical tools can we bring to analysing them, and, most importantly, how can they be resisted?