UN Report on Cyber Violence

The United Nations Broadband Commission has released a landmark report on the growing problem of on-line violence and harassment against women and girls. According to today’s press release:

[the report] reveals that almost three quarters of women online have been exposed to some form of cyber violence, and urges governments and industry to work harder and more effectively together to better protect the growing number of women and girls who are victims of online threats and harassment.
The report notes that despite the rapidly growing number of women experiencing online violence, only 26 per cent of law enforcement agencies in the 86 countries surveyed are taking appropriate action. . .Without concerted global action to curb the various escalating forms of online violence, an unprecedented surge of ‘cyber violence against women and girls (cyber VAWG)’ could run rampant and significantly impede the uptake of broadband by women everywhere, the report contends. It notes that cyber VAWG already exists in many forms, including online harassment, public shaming, the desire to inflict physical harm, sexual assaults, murders and induced suicides.

The full 60-page report – which is sub-titled ‘A World-Wide Wake-up Call’ – contains lots of helpful (and troubling) information.

Results from Sexual Misconduct Climate Survey at Boston University

You can read the whole report here, or read an article about in BU Today here.

Below are some quotes and findings from the survey:

“The survey was sent in March 2015 to 27,086 undergraduate and graduate students. Recipients of the survey request will recall that the University offered to make a $5 donation per completed survey to one of four Boston-area advocacy and support services for survivors of sexual assault, rape, and violence.” (From an email sent out with the results)

Here are some key findings from the report:
  • A total of 5,875 students responded to the survey, a 22% participation rate.
  • One in six respondents (18%) reported experiencing some form of sexual assault while a BU student. (There are significant variations by gender in the numbers that make up this average, which is consistent with averages reported by other institutions conducting climate surveys.)
  • A majority of reported incidents involved alcohol use: 78% of respondents who reported experiencing sexual misconduct say that they had consumed alcohol beforehand and 86% say their assailants had.
  • A majority of respondents (63%) who reported experiencing sexual misconduct said that the incidents occurred off campus.
  • A large majority (94%) of respondents reported feeling safe on campus.

“Female students had less confidence than males in how a reporting student would be protected from retaliation. They also had less confidence that a report would be taken seriously and that corrective action would be taken against the perpetrator. Respondents with nonbinary gender identity had less confidence than female or male respondents that a reporting student would be protected from retaliation, or that the report would be taken seriously and that corrective action would be taken.”

“We really have to untangle the complicated mess of alcohol on campus in conjunction with sexual assault,” Godley says. “I don’t think we can do much about sexual assault unless we address alcohol. I don’t know of any university that has solved this.” (from BU Today)

“It takes courage for a woman to say she’s afraid” – Leventhal

Anna Leventhal in the Toronto Star, regarding the online threats against women at University of Toronto:

In an age where women are routinely told we’re overreacting and being hysterical, that we should just calm down and ignore the bully, there’s absolutely no social capital to be gained by faking victimhood. It takes courage, not cowardice, to say you’re afraid, and say it publicly.

Career opportunities and social privilege

The Washington Post has an interesting interview up with Lauren Rivera, associate professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and author of a new book called Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs. Rivera focuses on careers in finance, law, etc, but much of what she says seems applicable to academia, especially as we enter hiring and grad admissions season. For example:

Quite simply, we like people who are similar to ourselves. Ask anyone what constitutes a good driver, leader, or parent, and chances are they will describe someone like themselves. The same is true for how people think of merit in the working world. Most employees in these firms are graduates of highly elite undergraduate or graduate programs and believe that’s where talent really resides. In addition, given how segregated our society has become socioeconomically, people who grow up in upper-middle or upper-class communities where college attendance is the norm may not realize structural factors that influence educational pathways and erroneously view university prestige as a reflection of ability alone. Finally, national rankings matter. Rankings provide an easily quantifiable, presumably “scientific” way of making sense of the myriad of educational institutions out there. They both reinforce beliefs that school prestige equals student quality (even though things having nothing to do with students’ abilities factor into a university’s rank) and serve as a convenient justification for limiting recruitment to a small number of elite schools with strong alumni ties to firms.

Obama gives speech about black women

Brittney Cooper does a great job putting this in context.

Obama did not arrive at this thinking about the importance of Black women solely out of a sense of altruism. Though he quipped that Black women are a “majority of my household,” a fact about which he “cares deeply,” the president arrived at the expansive view of the problems and possibilities that shape Black women’s lives because of many months of committed advocacy work from groups focused on the well-being of Black women and girls.

When the president announced his My Brother’s Keeper initiative focused on the structural challenges faced by men and boys of color in Winter 2014, more than 1,500 Black women signed a letter demanding that the program include remedies for Black women and girls. This public push led to months of closed-door meetings in which a series of reports about the dismal outcomes Black girls face with regard to the school-to-prison pipeline and the sexual abuse-to-prison pipeline forced the president’s team to reconsider what it might mean to suggest that only one sex was worthy of his attempts to address structural racism.

Job Searches and Members of Under-Represented Groups

As the recently appointed Acting Chair of the APA Committee on Inclusiveness in the Profession, I’ve been getting a number of emails from job search committees asking for help in identifying listservs and websites that reach members of under-represented groups in philosophy. The APA Resources on Diversity and Inclusiveness is a good start, as is the UP Directory of philosophers from under-represented groups. The UP Directory even has a bulletin board service that emails job listings every Monday. (You do not have to be listed in the directory to subscribe to the bulletin board service.)

I’m hoping that Feminist Philosophy readers can help identify listservs that reach philosophers from under-represented groups, and am asking that you note these in the comments. I’ve already conferred with Amy Ferrer this morning and she’s agreed to add this information to the Resources on Diversity and Inclusiveness page. Given that the job search season is upon us, it would be great to put a centralized resource of philosophy listservs for job search committees to use this season.

“I look like an LGBT Engineer”

A brief piece on the invisibility of LGBT people in engineering. Very much reminded me of Esa’s on philosophy.

It became evident that we’d not heard about any problems from the LGBT academic and student communities in engineering. At first, that seemed like a good thing. However, I started to think about the number of individuals in this minority group that we actually knew of. We could only name one or two, including myself!

“Why does it matter?” asked one of my colleagues, respectfully, and I was grateful for her question. It matters for many reasons.

Free readings at Claudia Card memorial: Philosopher’s Eye

From the Wiley-Blackwell Philosophy Blog, Eric Piper writes, “I wanted to pass on a memorial to Claudia Card that we’ve published on The Philosopher’s Eye. We have set many of Prof. Card’s key articles in Hypatia, the Journal of Social Philosophy, Metaphilosophy, and the Journal of Southern Philosophy free in recognition of her numerous contributions to feminist philosophy.”

This is a splendid way to mark the passing of a writer. Happy reading!