There’s a really important new paper out, based on a study at Sydney. The headline news is that the study shows:
(a) At the very start of their first intro class, there are already significant gender differences in attitudes toward philosophy, with men generally more positively disposed toward the subject, more likely to think they’ll do well, and more likely to think they might major in it.
(b) This does not change from beginning to end of the semester.
They take this so suggest that key causes of the underrepresentation are already in place prior to university, but also suggest measures that could be effectively taken at university level to combat these.
I found the study both fascinating and surprising. For me, one of the big lessons is the need to always expect and examine cultural differences. In the UK, women and men sign up for philosophy degrees in roughly equal numbers, with women making their exit only after university exposure to the subject, dropping off at decision to do an MA. A really fruitful research project might be a close examination of the cultural differences that produce these different outcomes.