I guess we really shouldn’t look to the Oscars – or to movie or pop stars generally – for help in promoting feminism, or any other cause. Yet we do! So it was doubly disappointing that Arquette’s statement for equal pay for women turned into a really insulting argument based on the assumptions that 1) all women (or all these whose rights to equal pay are worth fighting for) are white and straight, and 2) that black and LGBT people have received sufficient support in fighting for their rights and that it’s now their turn to help (and 3 that until now they have only fought for their own rights qua black or LGBT ?). The responses can be read on twitter under the hashtag #AskAWhiteFeminist. This page has a small selection as well as some replies from Arquette.
Kieran Healy has provided some more fascinating information on gender and citation in philosophy, based on data taken from the ‘top four’ generalist philosophy journals (Nous, Mind, J Phil, Phil Review):
The story here is rather sobering and, if you’re familiar with the literature on citation, unsurprising. Citation counts are highly skewed. Even though these are all peer-reviewed articles published in high-prestige journals, almost a fifth of them are never cited at all, and just over half of them are cited five times or fewer. A very small number of articles are cited more than twenty or thirty times. Getting cited just twenty five times is enough to put a paper in the top decile of the distribution. (As I said, philosophers don’t cite each other much.) The top one percent of papers are cited seventy five times of more. The most-cited paper in the data has just shy of 300 citations. . .
From the co-citation analysis we already know that within the articles published in our four journals women make up just 3.5 percent of the 500 most-cited items. We don’t have a baseline for the number of potentially citeable items here in general, nor do we know whether that 3.5 percent is proportional to the number of women amongst the full count of cited items. (This was one of the motivations for wanting to code all 34,000 by gender.) For the case of the articles themselves, though, we do have a base rate: 87.5 percent of the published articles are by men, and 12.5 percent are by women. If we add up the total citations held by those articles, we find that articles written by men have 88 percent of the citations, and those by women have 12 percent of the citations. So at this level of resolution, things are proportional in the sense that the share of citations to articles by women lines up with the overall share of articles by women. On the average, articles by women are not cited less often than articles by men. It’s the very low base-rate of articles by women that’s driving things.
We’re not quite done, though. Overall, citations are proportional, given the low base rate of women in the field. At the same time, rates of citation in general are extremely skewed. It’s worth looking more closely about what these two things mean together. . .
Kieran has lots of information and very pretty pictures up on his post – and, in particular, some very revealing data about what the very top echelons of highly cited papers in philosophy look like with respect to gender. (Spoiler alert: they look very, very male.) Go check it out! (And thank you, Kieran, for doing this!)