Resources for more inclusive philosophy classrooms

An excellent new site, Best Practices for the Inclusive Philosophy Classroom, offers a host of resources for philosophy teachers who want to make their classes more inclusive and mitigate the effects of biases. The site includes suggestions for syllabi and readings, advice on grading methods, ways to manage discussion and participation, and links to empirical research underpinning all this. The authors are associated with Minorities And Philosophy (MAP), a  graduate student-led organisation that exists to “address issues of minority participation in academic philosophy”. They welcome contributions of additional resources, suggestions, and so on for the best practice website — drop them a line if you know a good one not yet included.

Campus Visits

The season for campus visits has begun, so perhaps it’s useful to share strategies search committees can employ to make these as humane and fair for candidates as possible. Below are a few things that occur to me, but please add more in comments!

1. Be aware that departments establish performance conditions for candidates that can influence how well people do and what comfort they achieve. Avoiding establishing conditions likely to provoke stereotype threat or placing candidates in solo status is a good start to avoid undermining performance.

2. People, especially job candidates, need rest. And sometimes even solitude. So make sure that your candidates get a chance to breathe outside the performance setting. At the very least, offer some down time to candidates so they can have time to collect their wits if needed.

3. Make sure to introduce candidates to all of the people they encounter, giving their role/status in the introduction. Don’t make them guess if they’re conversing with a search committee member, graduate student, or rogue sociologist who just happened to stop by your department.

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What can philosophy learn from the climate in economics?

The journal Quartz recently published the article, “How big is the sexism problem in economics? This article’s co-author is anonymous because of it”.

The article starts off noting:

The Economist’s recent list of the 25 most influential economists did not include a single woman. Many male former central bankers and regional Federal Reserve Bank governors were included on the list, but the Economist gave itself a special rule to exclude active central bankers, which meant that Janet Yellen—arguably the world’s most influential economist—didn’t make the list.

Much of what the article catalogues will be very familiar to women philosophers, and to some other philosophers from underrepresented groups: Seeming constant microagressions and macro ones too. Lower pay, power imbalances, the impermissibility of assertive (=bitchy) behavior for women, having a family, a harder time getting outside offers, and so on.

The article raises another issue which is starting to receive a lot of attention in philosophy: the diversity of methods and content:

One final step that would make economics less forbidding for women is for each economist to become open to a wider range of scientific approaches and topics. Statistically, men and women are not drawn to the same fields within economics. And even within a field, women are drawn to a different balance between immediate real-world relevance and theoretical elegance. It is natural for each economist (and for each academic in general) to construct a narrative for why his or her approach to economics is the best. But since men in senior ranks in economics are more numerous than women, the narratives that men construct for why their individual approaches to economics are better usually win out in hiring and promotion decisions over the narratives that women construct for why their individual approaches are better.

Gosh, sounds like what a lot of us call home.

h/t justin weinberg

Women’s abilities in Math: a surprising conservative viewpoint

The authors on the paper from which the quote below comes include Ceci and Williams, with Ceci the corresponding author. Readers may be aware of complaints on this blog about their research, which tends to claim, for example, that there is no discrimination against women in STEM fields. Conservative columnists love them. Their following assessment, which in effect summarizes theses we’ve arrived at over the last 7 and a half years after considerable attention to the literature and help from readers, is happily surprising:

The results of our myriad analyses reveal that early sex differences in spatial and mathematical reasoning need not stem from biological bases, that the gap between average female and male math ability is narrowing (suggesting strong environmental influences), and that sex differences in math ability at the right tail show variation over time and across nationalities, ethnicities, and other factors, indicating that the ratio of males to females at the right tail can and does change. We find that gender differences in attitudes toward and expectations about math careers and ability (controlling for actual ability) are evident by kindergarten and increase thereafter, leading to lower female propensities to major in math-intensive subjects in college but higher female propensities to major in non-math-intensive sciences…

UK Mentoring workshop : apply by 2 March!

Women PhD students and early career women– do apply!

Submissions are invited for SWIP-associated mentoring and networking workshop for graduate and early career women from all areas of philosophy.

Aims of the Workshop

This workshop will be the first of its kind in the UK, roughly following the example set by Princeton University’s Networking and Mentoring Workshop for Graduate Women in Philosophy held in August earlier this year.

The aim of the workshop is to bring together graduate and early career women in philosophy from a selection of philosophical areas in order to offer support and encouragement to develop a thriving community of women in philosophy.

The workshop will provide graduate and early career women with feedback on their work and advice on a career in philosophy. Alongside the philosophical talks, there will be presentations discussing a wide range of issues facing women in philosophy. We hope that a consequence of the workshop will be an enhanced support network, which will encourage more women into the discipline.

Submission Guidelines

We invite graduate students and early career women (within three years of completing PhD) in philosophy to submit papers for presentation at the workshop.

We invite contributions from all areas in philosophy, and mentors will be selected on the research interests of the papers accepted. We particularly encourage papers from aesthetics and philosophy of psychology since Professor Kathleen Stock and Dr. Hanna Pickard are confirmed as mentors for these areas, due to generous funding from both the British Society of Aesthetics and Lisa Bortolotti’s ERC-funded project PERFECT.

Selected speakers will present their paper, and also have a mentoring and advice session on their paper with an expert in their field. Submissions should be between 3000-4000 words in length, suitable for presentation within forty minutes. Submissions should be prepared for anonymous review, be in Word or PDF format, and sent to no later than Monday 2nd March 2015. Please include your name, institutional affiliation, and title of your paper in the body of the email.

Notification of acceptance will be sent out by mid-April. Accepted speakers will have their registration and accommodation for the duration of the workshop paid, as well as travel costs up to £100.

The organisers are committed to making the workshop accessible to disabled philosophy. All rooms will be wheelchair accessible. Philosophers needing interpreters or assistive technology are asked to communicate such needs as soon as possible to the organisers. If you need childcare to attend the conference, we are happy to help you arrange this and we may be able to offset costs.

Any queries should be sent to the organisers, Helen Bradley, Suki Finn, and Ema Sullivan-Bissett, at yorkswip2015 AT

For more, go here!