Sexual harassment, and an inadequate response

A sadly all-too-familiar tale.

Seven current and former professors, including Kidd and Aslin, as well as another former graduate student, have submitted identical EEOC complaints claiming that Jaeger, the University of Rochester, and several administrators violated laws that ban discrimination in the workplace and in federally funded education, and stating their intent to sue if the EEOC does not take up their case. The charges, laid out in a detailed 111-page document, allege that over a span of 10 years Jaeger contributed to a “hostile environment” for some graduate students, postdocs, and professors in the department, causing at least 11 women to actively avoid him and lose out on educational opportunities.

When Aslin and a colleague, Jessica Cantlon, complained to the university about Jaeger’s behavior last year, UR investigated and ultimately cleared him of violations of its harassment and discrimination policy. Yet the EEOC complainants dispute the investigation’s conclusions and say the university has since retaliated against the professors involved.

Read the whole thing.

Interview with Anita Allen

Another great one from Clifford Sosis.

In this interview, Anita Allen, Vice Provost for Faculty, Chair of the Provost’s Arts Advisory Council, and Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, talks about growing up in Fort Benning, the Vietnam war, Christianity, Sinatra, being protected from harsh truths, the Cuban Missile Crisis, unique challenges being a first-generation college student, New College, working with Bryan Norton and Brian Loar, exploring Europe, ballet, University of Michigan, inappropriate advances, Richard Brandt, Carnegie-Mellon, being told she was an affirmative action hire, the philosophy smoker, learning to teach, being admitted to Harvard Law, being a TA forDworkin, Nozick, Sandel and Bok, turning down marriage proposals left and right, creating a field (the philosophy of privacy), struggling with medical issues, working for a law firm, advice to young scholars, her philosophical weaknesses, Sarah Silverman, Kevin Hart, and Steve Martin, election night 2008 versus election night 2016, what she would do if she were queen of the world, and black walnut ice cream…

Read it!

Concordia: Scholarship for international women students

Carol Lee Price Scholarships: funding for female international students pursing and MA in Philosophy of Logic and Mathematics or Ancient Philosophy.

Carol Lee Price Scholarships are intended to attract and support women pursuing graduate studies in philosophy at Concordia University (Montreal). Applicants should work on ancient philosophy or logic and philosophy of mathematics. They must be international students. Each scholarship is worth $32,450 CAD; up to two are awarded each year.

The Carol Lee Price MA Scholarship in Logic and Philosophy of Mathematics:
Applicants shall have obtained a BA in Philosophy with high distinction and at least 21 credits (7 courses), or the equivalent in the country of origin, in Mathematics, or a BA in Mathematics with high distinction and at least 21 credits, or the equivalent in their country of origin, in Philosophy. Acceptable research area topics for the MA are Logic, History and Philosophy of Logic, or Philosophy of Mathematics.

The Carol Lee Price MA Scholarship in Ancient Philosophy:
Applicants shall have obtained a BA in Classics with high distinction and at least 21 credits (7 courses), or the equivalent in the country of origin, in Philosophy, or a BA in Philosophy with at least 21 credits, or the equivalent in the country of origin in Classics. Since study of texts in the original languages is required, applicants are expected to know ancient Greek or Latin. Preference will be given to those who know both languages.

Application Instructions:

Applications for the Carol Lee Price Scholarships should be emailed to philosophy.gpd@concordia.cainclude the following items:

(1) Writing Sample. 2,500-3,750 words.

(2) Three letters of reference.

(3) A research project where the applicant outlines a project for her MA.

(4) A letter of purpose, which should not duplicate the research project but rather add some information about the applicants academic background, language skills, etc.

(5) Transcripts. Unofficial transcripts suffice for the application. Official transcripts will be needed when entering the MA problem.

(6) Curriculum vitae.

(7) Proof of proficiency in English. Any of the following will do: TOEFL (minimum in iBT: 90 and no part under 20); IELTS (minimum: 6.5 and no part under 6.5); PTE (minimum: 61 and no part under 53); CAEL (minimum: 70); CAE (minimum: A or 190); CPE (minimum: C).

Deadline for Applications: February 1, together with the regular admissions application.

For additional information, please contact our Graduate Program Director, Department of Philosophy, Concordia University, Montreal, at

First female head of Oxford: It’s not my job to make students feel comfortable.

As reported very recently in the Oxford Times, Louise Richardson has said, “I have had many conversations with students who have come to me and say they don’t feel comfortable because their professor has expressed views against homosexuality. They don’t feel comfortable being in the classroom with somebody with those views.

“And I say ‘I’m sorry, but my job is not to make you feel comfortable. Education is not about being comfortable. In fact, I’m interested in making you uncomfortable. And if you don’t like his views, you challenge them and engage with them and figure out how a smart person like that can have views like that. And figure out how you can persuade him to change his mind’.

Interestingly, she expressed such views sometime ago, in Jan 2016, as you can see in the video below.

Her recent remarks were met with the sort of views one would think would have already led her to modify her speech at least. As the New Statesman said:

Richardson’s advice to “work out how you can persuade him to change his mind” relies on the false assumption that hatred can be overcome by a sophisticated line of argument. It takes a special kind of arrogance to think that a “smart person” can only hate others based on their sexuality (or race, or religion) because no one has debated them skilfully enough to change their minds…

It’s hardly surprising that, at a time when 20 homophobic hate crimes are reported every day, university students feel uncomfortable about tutors who disagree with homosexuality… Her comments also demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of how power relationships work. There is, on occasion, some value in exposing bigoted views by preserving freedom of speech, but a tutor-student scenario is vastly different from usual contexts in which this could occur. How is a student meant to feel confident enough to debate their own identity with the professor who will mark their final exams?

Richardson is a representative of a university known to be a reserve of the straight, white, male elite. Her comments are symptomatic of an institution which encourages marginalised groups to see no structural problems, but only problems with themselves. They reinforce the idea that students who are members of minority groups are only welcome in academic spaces if they conceal their identities, or offer them up for debate.

As of now, however, there seems a standoff of sorts, one that leaves on unclear about how she sees the relationship between speech and action.

From the Telegraph:

Meanwhile an open letter to the vice-Chancellor, which gained over 2,000 signatures from students, staff and alumni, warned that her remarks could make gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students feel “unsafe” at university.

Now Prof Richardson has now issued a statement on the university website saying it is a “matter of great regret” that her comments are “being used to call into question this impressive, sustained endeavour to make Oxford a diverse and inclusive university”.

On SOAS students’ demand to diversity curriculum

Stella Sandford.


Philosophy and philosophers rarely make it into the mainstream news in the UK. But in January 2017 Plato and Kant hit the headlines. “They Kant be Serious! PC students demand white philosophers including Plato and Descartes be dropped from university syllabus”, shouted the MailOnline; “Newsnight guest DEFENDS calls to ban Plato and Kant because the Enlightenment is ‘racist’”, spluttered The Sunday Express. The Sun upped the ante by adding a few more names to the list: “Barmy SOAS students try to ban classical philosophers like Plato, Aristotle and Voltaire from their courses … because they are white”. These figures, along with the likes of Bertrand Russell are, according to The Mail (which The Telegraph’s Education Editor then apparently copied), among the “titans of philosophy” whose names “underpin civilisation”. On the day on which I looked at this The Sunday Express online article appears under a banner of sex videos including “Mila Kunis stripped bare …”, “Katherine Heigl stripped bare …” It isn’t stated whether this is the kind of “civilisation” which Kant et al underpin.

Read on…

A bad experience, and some really useful reflections

I’ll let you go read about the bad experience yourself.  But here’s a taster of the useful reflections.

I think it might help if instructors/ and institutions in general (!) reflected (along with the students) on what to do when a student conveys that something is offensive. Offensiveness is something that should be taken seriously, and one should presume the feelings are legitimate, and try to identify and correct their source. Here it would have been effortless to change examples, or apologize for the literature. There may be cases where just one student is offended. There may even be cases where the instructor can[‘t] imagine why someone is offended or thinks they shouldn’t be. Even here, it is important to respond with an effort to take the student’s perspective seriously. A white heterosexual male teacher is not necessarily in the best position to see why the example of Sultans choosing women can make people feel uncomfortable. The teacher can, at that point, engage with the student to come up with a better example.

People who are charged with offensiveness get angry sometimes, and try to turn the tables and attack their accusers or claim they have been persecuted by “thought police.” It is helpful to anticipate that reply, and to make it explicitly clear that this is not about censorship; it is about effective and inclusive instruction. An islamic student hearing the sultan example will not be any more motivated to learn than a Jewish student hearing an example about a Jewish moneylender. This is not a matter of people being delicate, sensitive, or overly emotional. It is about creating a classroom that doesn’t promote bigotry and where people who ask for respect are heard. The examples are an unfortunate residue of a very sexist period in a field that remains male dominated. Efforts to remove sexist examples are no less important than efforts to diversify the university population. They are part of the same process. To speak out about this is not delicacy or weakness.

Adding a fake man

The sexism they faced was subtle, Gazin notes. It wasn’t as if anyone said, “Hey, toots, let me speak to Keith.” But when she reached out, Dwyer also told Fast Company, “It would take me days to get a response, but Keith could not only get a response and a status update, but also be asked if he wanted anything else or if there was anything else that Keith needed help with.” Of course, Keith always had to cancel on conference calls at the last minute.

For the full story of the invention of Keith (that’s Keith Mann!), go here.

On being reinvigorated by Mary Astell but worn out by the discipline

Regan Penaluna started by loving philosophy. Over time, though, the climate for women in the discipline ground her down. Her self-confidence flagged, and she became one of the quiet students rather than one of the vocal, passionate ones. And then she discovered 17th century rationalist and feminist philosopher, Mary Astell.

Penaluna, now a journalist, has just published a popular account of her ups and downs in philosophy, her love affair with Astell, and her eventual departure from the discipline.

Penaluna’s account of Astell is a great primer on an original thinker who deserves more attention than she gets. But just as illuminating is Penaluna’s account of the slow grind of being a woman in philosophy. Her article offers a glimpse into some of the reasons women leave the profession.

You can read Penaluna’s account here.

Founding Mothers of Analytic Philosophy

Founding Mothers: Women in the History of Early Analytic Philosophy

06 Sep 2017, 12:00 to 06 Sep 2017, 17:30

Room 246, Second Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU


Analytic philosophy, like philosophy generally, is male-dominated. It is presumed that it has always been that way. Scholarly investigations of its origins present us with a wholly male pantheon of `founding fathers’ (Russell, Moore, Wittgenstein) and `grandfathers’ (Frege) of analytic philosophy. Philosophers assume that this is because women have made no signi_cant contributions to early analytic philosophy, that there were no founding mothers or grandmothers. Female analytic philosophers are thought not have come along until the 1950s, when Anscombe and Foot arrived on the scene. Tradition has it that women naturally gravitate towards the normative, and their absence from the early analytic canon is due to normative philosophy not being central to the original project, which developed around Frege’s polyadic logic, Moore’s realism, and Russell and Wittgenstein’s logical atomism. But the historical record does not bear this out. Female names occur with some regularity, for example, in early issues of Mind and the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, and records of the Cambridge Moral Sciences Club. Many of them worked on logic, metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of science and mathematics. Women were a minority within early analytic philosophy | as they were in British academic life of the period generally | but by no means absent. This conference aims to make space for female philosophers within the early analytic pantheon, to bring their work and contributions to the attention of contemporary philosophers and historians of analytic philosophy, and to diagnose some of the causes of the neglect and marginalisation of women’s works by subsequent generations and historians of analytic philosophy.

Among the female philosophers discussed are Constance Jones (1848-1922), Susan Stebbing (1885-1943), DorothyWrinch (1894-1976), Helen Knight (1899-1984), Dorothy Emmet (1904-2000), Margaret MacDonald (1907-1956), Margaret Masterman (1910-1986), and Iris Murdoch (1919-1999). The papers presented put forward several complementary hypotheses for the obscuring of women’s writing and their ideas from the canonical history. Firstly, women’s work has been neglected due to sexist attitudes. Female philosophers’ publications were frequently ignored or belittled, and not given credit for originality, by their male contemporaries. This in turn led to subsequent generations assuming that there were no major philosophical contributions to be found in the work of female early analytic philosophers. Secondly, several female philosophers’ contributions are hidden in co-authored publications where they are not acknowledged as co-authors or editors, in textbooks, or in unpublished manuscripts. Thirdly, many female philosophers published more rarely than their male counterparts, often being put in the position of concentrating on teaching or administrative duties. As research-intensive jobs accessible to women were scarce, and women’s colleges short of funds and anxious to support their students, the resources of many female philosophers were stretched. Lastly, in some cases female philosophers’ primary concerns were unpopular with majority-male audiences.



12.00-12.15 Coffee and Welcome

12.15-1.00 Frederique Janssen-Lauret (Manchester) `Founding Mothers and Grandmothers of Analytic Philosophy: from Constance Jones to Susan Stebbing’

1.00-2.00 Lunch

2.00-2.45 Sean Crawford (Manchester): `Dorothy Wrinch on Judgement’

2.45-3.30 Sophia Connell (Birkbeck) `Analytic Women: Female Philosophers on Logic, Language, and Metaphysics in Cambridge 1890-1950′

3.30-4.00 Tea

4.00-4.45 Stacie Friend (Birkbeck) `Female Early Analytic Philosophers on Fiction’

4.45-5.30 Paula Satne (Manchester) `Iris Murdoch and Analytic Philosophy’

6.00-ish: Conference Dinner


The conference is free to attend but prior registration is required. Please register here