A woman of color at the Hypatia conference

More from the ever-excellent Discrimination and Disadvantage blog – Meena Krishnamurthy blogs about her experience as a woman of color at the Hypatia Diversity in Philosophy Conference. Summary headline:

Now, this isn’t to say that the Hypatia Conference wasn’t a success. It certainly was. There was a diverse range of really great women and men giving really great talks. The conference organizers should be commended for this.  However, there is still some way to go when it comes to making women of colour feel truly welcome.

6 thoughts on “A woman of color at the Hypatia conference

  1. It is interesting that your headline has the only 4 sentences praising the conference, and one critical sentence, despite the criticism being the point of the post.

    Alternative, more honest, summary headline: “Being a young woman of colour at a Hypatia conference led to exactly the same sort of problems that it would in any other venue. In fact, it led to more than I have experienced at any other conference.”

    I think this is important, because it’s a nice reminder to be a bit more humble when criticising others. If we as feminists, who (I hope) care the most about making such conferences welcoming to historically underrepresented groups, are not making our conferences welcome, we can’t really expect others to exceed what we ourselves do.

    And we shouldn’t try to sweep our failures under the rug with a nice-sounding “headline”. Do you think Professor Krishnamurthy would think this headline represents her post?

  2. I don’t think the quote I selected in any way sweeps the problems under the rug. “There is still some way to go when it comes to making women of color feel truly welcome” is the punchline of the quote I chose. And I think it’s honest because it acknowledges what the conference did well, while emphasizing that this isn’t enough, at that we need to do better. I chose this quote because I want to respect the hard work that the organizers of this conference put in, while also acknowledging that we still have a long way to go and we still need to do better. Since this was how Meena herself chose to summarize and conclude her post, I don’t think it’s in any way a misrepresentation. Obviously, I can’t speak for her about whether she would feel the summary represents her post. Since it’s how she chose to conclude it, I guess I’d be surprised it she felt it wasn’t representative (and knowing Meena I seriously doubt she’d be unhappy that this post uses a quote from her which acknowledges what the conference did well in addition to what it did poorly, but again I can’t speak for her.)

    But Meena, please correct me if that’s wrong!

  3. Out of respect for Professor Krishnamurthy, I won’t continue this exchange. I still think representing your quotation as a summary is wrong. But I think it was very brave of Professor Krishnamurthy to post what she did, and I don’t think she should have to dig in and restate her position.

  4. One comment. I’ve also, although white, had problems in the past – a bit (!) less so now I’m older – with people assuming I was a grad student or, nowadays, a recent appointee, and I’ve never noticed the problems being any less so amongst feminist philosophers compared to other philosophers.

  5. Right after I read about Meena Krishnamurthy’s post, almost the next email was THE ECONOMIST, asking for nominations for the “best global diversity professionals”. The reason they give for this is instructive, i.e. there are currently no acknowledged standards for good diversity practice in workplaces. In view of this I think that, on one hand, the organizers should get credit (and give themselves credit) for trying their best, and, on the other hand, actual practices (rather than individual attitudes) should be the focus. For example, Meena’s post suggests one useful practice — do not “profile” people on appearances, make it a practice to enquire of *everybody*, if you are not already sure, what rank, discipline, institution, or whatever is relevant, should be used to describe them, on registrations, name tags, etc.

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