Gender bias in grant renewals

In this study, researchers analyzed the written feedback and numeric scores grant reviewers gave to about 150 National Institutes of Health grants awarded to scientists at the University of Wisconsin, Madison between 2010 and 2014. The study used text-mining software to detect praise words, including standout words like “outstanding” and “exceptional,” and ability words, like “skilled.”

The researchers found no gender divide in the reviews given to initial grant applications — in other words, the grant that a scientist would request when they were just starting their own lab or a new research project. 

But grant renewals showed a departure. While female scientists were 13 percent more likely to receive standout praise on their renewal applications, their average scores were more than four points behind their male colleagues. Though these grants were all funded (the NIH doesn’t publicize information on unfunded grants) a four-point divide could have ruled out many other women’s grant applications. The study was published in the Journal of Academic Medicine.  

For more, go here.

Reginia Rini: Pitting LGBTQ against Islam

In 2002 the Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn carved a path for Donald Trump. Fortuyn demanded an end to Muslim immigration, claiming that Islamic culture endangered the Dutch tradition of respect for LGBT rights. I remember reading the headlines after Fortuyn’s party won local elections, wondering how long it would be until America’s political right adopted the same tactic. The answer was 14 years.

Read on.

Dialogues on Disability: Audrey Yap

The latest instalment in Shelley’s excellent series of interviews is now out. This time, she talks to Audrey Yap about choosing which areas of philosophy to work on in a mixed-up world, minority identities, safe spaces, depression, anxiety, martial arts, and more!

My guest today is Audrey Yap. Audrey is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Victoria, Canada, on the traditional territory of the Coast and Straits Salish people. Her research interests are in the history and philosophy of math and logic, as well as in feminist epistemology, though she mostly teaches logic courses. In addition to philosophy, Audrey teaches (and practices) martial arts and, when not doing any of those things, she likes to be outside with her dogs.

You can read the whole interview here.

Petition on academic purge in Turkey

Please sign.


As academics and administrators affiliated with colleges and universities around the world, we the undersigned strongly condemn the recent attacks on academic freedom by President Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP).

On July 19, over 15,000 teachers and staff have been removed from their jobs, and Turkey’s Higher Education Board (YÖK) called upon the deans of all private and state universities to resign, in the wake of the attempted coup d’état on July 15 by a faction within the military. The coup attempt is being cynically used to justify the appointment of party loyalists to those positions, which will politicize academic institutions and undermine both institutional independence and academic freedom throughout Turkey.

Mentoring for Pogge Students

Ruth Chang, APA ombuds, has asked us to publish this.



As former students of Thomas Pogge, we suspect that there is one group of people who have been harmed in relation to the recent allegations against Pogge, who have not been much considered in the discussion surrounding them. It is not our intention here to take a stand on the truth or falsity of the allegations. Rather, regardless of their veracity, current and recent students of Pogge’s, male or female, may now feel that they cannot turn to him for mentoring, as any continued involvement with Pogge may taint them or call into question their accomplishments and abilities in the eyes of other members of the profession. Indeed this is one of the reasons we’ve chosen to keep our own identities anonymous. For those who are finishing their PhDs, or have not yet secured tenure track employment, that loss of mentoring is a great loss indeed. Though we both secured tenure track employment before the allegations were made public, we empathize with the situation of Pogge’s graduate students and post-grads who have not yet done so.


Accordingly, we are reaching out to current and recent students of Pogge’s to determine whether they are in need of alternate mentoring. If so, and the demand is great enough, we propose to develop a list of senior philosophers in related areas who would be willing to step in and provide such mentoring. Please note that while a letter of recommendation for use on the job market is a desirable and certainly possible outcome of a mentoring relationship of this type, being paired with a mentor would by no means guarantee such a letter. Rather, it would provide an opportunity to gain feedback on some papers or dissertation chapters and to receive general advice on professional issues. The exact extent of that mentoring would be up to the junior and the senior philosophers to determine on an individual basis.


The identity of anyone requesting mentoring would be kept confidential, and be known only by us (the two former graduate students of Pogge’s organizing the connection), and the eventual mentor. At this point, we are only asking for expressions of interest from current or past students of Pogge’s – both male and female – who have not secured permanent employment and who would like to be connected to an alternate mentor. Registering your interest now does not commit you to eventually being paired with a mentor – it only helps us to determine how many potential mentors to contact. You may decide at a later date whether you would actually like to be paired with a mentor. Please contact us by September 1, 2016 at Please help to spread the word to Pogge’s current and former students.

Conference: Bias in Context


Bias in Context: Psychological and Structural Explanations
The University of Sheffield, September 5th & 6th 2016
Humanities Research Institute

Full details, registration and accessibility information are available at this link:

What is the relationship between psychological and structural explanations of persistent social injustice? Much empirical and philosophical work focuses on individualistic psychological explanations for ongoing injustice. Such explanations appeal to phenomena such as prejudice, implicit bias, stereotyping, and stereotype threat, in order to understand persisting inequities in a broad range of contexts, including educational, corporate, and informal social contexts.

A key challenge to this body of work maintains that the focus on individual psychology is at best obfuscatory of, and at worst totally irrelevant to, more fundamental causes of injustice, which are institutional and structural. Yet structural explanations face difficulties accommodating the extent to which individual agency is implicated in those problematic structures or institutions. Nor are they well placed to articulate how individual agency might be directed towards changing these structures.

The aim of this interdisciplinary conference series is to examine the relationship between psychological explanations and structural explanations of injustice. This work will generate more fully worked-out understandings of the interaction between these two kinds of explanation. These understandings can inform both future empirical study, institutional policy, and individual and collective action.

Dr Saray Ayala (California State University, Sacramento)
Dr Lacey Davidson & Dr Daniel Kelly (Purdue University)
Dr Alex Madva (Cal Poly Pomona)
Professor Jennifer Saul (University of Sheffield)
Dr Joseph Sweetman (University of Exeter)
Professor Nicole Tausch (University of St Andrews)
Dr Robin Zheng (Yale-NUS College)

Thanks to the Mind Association, The Society for Applied Philosophy, and the Analysis Trust for their support.

Analysis Trust bursaries are available to post-graduates and underemployed philosophers in order to subsidize up to 50% of the costs of registration and accommodation. Interested parties should contact the organizers to inquire about such bursaries.

If you have any queries, please contact the organizers:
Andreas Bunge: afbunge1[AT]
Administrative assistant
Jules Holroyd: j.d.holroyd[AT]
Erin Beeghly: erin.beeghly[AT]

Women-only spaces and the ‘wrong kind’ of woman

As we’ve discussed before, feminist and women-only spaces are often less inclusive than we’d hope, especially to women of color. And this is of course an ongoing issue that intersectional feminism seeks to wrestle with and improve on.

But there’s an interesting question that’s specific to feminist and women-only spaces in philosophy – are they inadvertently unwelcoming to women who do certain kinds of philosophy, especially the kinds we typically code as ‘male’ (logic, formal epistemology, metaphysics, etc)? It’s this topic that Sara Uckelman – a logician – explores in her blog post about her recent experiences at women-only and women-focused philosophy events.

If my experiences talking with women grad students and early career philosophers working in technical subfields is at all representative, I think that at least some of the frustrations that Uckelman expresses in her post are not uncommon. There’s sometimes a delicate interplay between philosophers who are feminists (that is, philosophers committed to feminism) and feminist philosophers (that is, philosophers whose research interests include feminist philosophy). And I think it’s easy for women who work in technical or esoteric parts of metaphysics, logic, and epistemology to be made to feel – often implicitly, but sometimes explicitly – that they are somehow less feminist in virtue of their research areas. And this can easily make them feel as though, somehow, they are the ‘wrong kind’ of women for women-in-philosophy spaces.

It’s a two-way street, of course. Feminist and social philosophers are often told that they are less rigorous, less smart, etc than those doing technical work, or that their work isn’t ‘real philosophy’. And unhelpful generalizations can hinder communication both ways. (An odd part of Uckelman’s post was the discussion about feminist philosophers and beer – plenty of the feminist philosophers I know like beer a lot.) But I do think it’s important that feelings and experiences like Uckelman’s are talked about and recognized as part of making women-in-philosophy efforts more inclusive.

There’s no one way to be a woman in philosophy, and no right or better thing to work on if you’re a woman in philosophy. Valuing traditionally marginalized areas of philosophy – including feminist philosophy – shouldn’t come at the expense of saying that other areas are somehow less good or less worthy. And of course one’s research area can never be treated as a proxy for one’s moral character or engagement with social causes. (*Cough* Thomas Pogge *Cough*). There are a lot of ways to be a woman in philosophy, and hopefully we can make philosophy better for all of them.

Homa Hoodfar

For well a decade and a half, I’ve been teaching Homa Hoodfar’s work.  Her amazing article on Muslim women’s veiling is a model of complexity and nuance, really delving into the many and varied attitudes women take to veiling, and shattering the myths of a monolithic oppressive Islam.  I know from conversations with my feminism students that this has been a revelation to them, forever changing the way that they think about Islam and women– many had previously been inclined to condemn Islam as misogynistic.

Hoodfar, who has done so much to deepen non-Muslims’ understanding of the complexities of Islam and gender, is now imprisoned in Iran.  Please sign the petition to free her.  You can read more here.

Wardrobe secrets of the First Husband


Meet Philip May, the man stepping into Sam Cam’s shoes as the new Prime Spouse (or ‘First Dude’ as they’d say across the pond).

The banker husband of our incoming Prime Minister Theresa May has kept a relatively low profile up until now, largely thanks to May’s unusually fast-tracked entry to the highest political office in the country.

With no general election to contend with, Mr May has so far avoided being paraded around like a dressage pony in a printed Per Una frock (£55) and L.K Bennett suede kitten heels (£125), or called on to reveal playful insights into the secret world of Mrs May (‘Oh Theresa loves Countryfile – woe betide anyone who calls the house phone while that’s on!’) or to present an emotional lectern tribute to ‘Your Future Prime Minister, and My Wife, Theresa May’ to soften up the crowd before Big T comes on.

But what we do know is that the Man May does give a good suit, prefers a red tie and is happy to fall in line with his wife’s colour palette.


Hurrah for Marie Claire!

Grad student attrition

The Atlantic has a new story about attrition in PhD programs. In our discussions here, we focus a lot on how specific issues in philosophy – sexual harassment, gender and racial bias, lack of accessibility, etc – can be particularly hard for particular types of students. But, the importance of those issues notwithstanding, grad school can be hard for anyone and everyone. And there’s an increasing amount of evidence that grad students are especially vulnerable to mental health problemsThe Atlantic article focuses on some potential explanations for general grad student unhappiness and attrition, especially the high levels of uncertainty about the future, lack of mentoring, and relentless criticism that grad students often encounter.

This conversation is a complicated one to have, especially in fields like philosophy. The Atlantic article seems to start from the premise that attrition is, in general, a bad thing – if students have the ability to finish a PhD but aren’t, then their universities are failing them. But I doubt it’s that simple. Grad school isn’t for everyone, and it’s probably a good thing that some people get into grad programs, realize the work isn’t making them happy, and leave (even if they have the academic ability to finish). It’s hard to predict what grad school will be like from the outside, and there’s nothing in principle wrong with giving it a try and realizing it’s not your thing. I worry we sometimes pathologize leaving as failure – as though there’s something intrinsically better about finishing a PhD if you can, even if you don’t want to – and that in doing so we make it harder for students who simply aren’t enjoying their work to move on to something else. That being said, I don’t doubt that we’re definitely failing our grad students along multiple dimensions – including those discussed in The Atlantic – and that as a result many who could be very happy and successful in our PhD programs aren’t.