Who is Where? Why? And is it Just?

That’s the title of a CPA blog post by Letitia Meynell, approaching questions of equity in the profession as questions about population-selection pressures:

Basically, it boils down to asking three questions: What is the distribution of various groups? How did they get where they are? And is the situation just?

Regarding the first question, ceteris paribus one would expect the population of professional Canadian philosophers to reflect, roughly, the Canadian population at large—half women, 15 out of 20 white, 1 in 20 Indigenous, 1 in 10 having a disability of some kind (and so on). Choose your preferred level of statistical significance and that will tell you how much divergence from this is too surprising to be the result of chance.

The second question simply tries to understand what caused this divergence from the general population. I find it useful to think about this in terms of selection processes, analogous to those discussed in evolutionary biology (though, obviously, without inheritance playing a role). After all, we are talking about populations and how various subpopulations with socially significant traits find themselves in environments (i.e., academia in general and philosophy in particular) that are more or less conducive to their academic and personal flourishing.

Read the full essay here.

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