CFP Is Gender Still Relevant?

[I have been informed there is some leeway in deadline if you email the organiser]

Call for papers: Is Gender Still Relevant? 

16-17th September 2014, University of Bradford

Despite over 30 years of campaigning and policy, why does gender remain a key issue today?

The ‘Is Gender Still Relevant?’ seminar, sponsored by the British Academy, examines the state of play in gender research in the historic disciplines, and asks if (and why) we still need to debate gender issues, including feminism, masculism and gender fluidity.

The event will discuss both research and academic practice and welcomes participation from all career stages, particularly early career scholars. We are also keen on perspectives from all genders – this isn’t just about women!

We invite abstracts for short papers from colleagues of all career stages and across the Historical Disciplines (in its broadest sense – including History of Science, and cross overs between humanities and sciences). We would particularly encourage workshop papers addressing the themes of: gender and representation; architecture and space; and gender identities past and present.

In addition, if you are an early career scholar and would be interested in collaboratively organising an interdisciplinary workshop within the event on either gender and representation, or gender identities past and present (or another topic we have not thought of) then please let us know.

Deadline for abstracts: 23rd June 2014

For architecture and space abstracts, please email Emily Fioccoprile and Emily Cuming

For gender and representation abstracts, please contact Daniel Grey and Kristin Leith

For all other abstracts, please email or contact


Confirmed Participants include:

Prof Roberta Gilchrist, University of Reading (FBA and event champion)

Prof Maggie Andrews, University of Worcester

Thomas Dowson, Independent researcher

Prof Patricia Skinner, Swansea University

Prof Helen King, Open University

Dr Diane Bolger, Edinburgh University

Prof Ray Laurence, University of Kent

Dr Anne Murphy, University of Hertfordshire

Dr Garthine Walker, Cardiff University

For further details, including how to register, please visit      Contact details:


Organising committee:

Dr Karina Croucher, University of Bradford

Dr Hannah Cobb, University of Manchester

Emily Fioccoprile, University of Bradford

Debbie Hallam, University of Bradford

Joanne McNicholls, University of Bradford

Natalie Atkinson, University of Bradford


Ranking Philosophers – Follow up

A few days ago I posted on a question posed to Philos – L, to rank our favourite philosophers. I encouraged you to mentione some women! [that encouragements still stands!].

The organiser has now reported back with some voluntary information on this [after a debate started about whether question 3, about rising stars, was a good question): “Incidentally, more respondents have named female philosophers in their answers to Q3 than to either Q1 or Q2, though the proportion was still only a little over 25 percent.”

Hm. On the upside, really pleased this shows awareness!!!! At least someone noticed!

In the discussion on Q3, the comment below by Steven Methven was particularly good, and I don’t want to withold it [last paragraph particulalry good]:

” My point is not that someone might be upset by being left off of the list. My point is that what you are asking people to do is to think about young philosophers as though they were mere objects to be ranked and compared. There are several reasons why this strikes me as offensive.

1. There is an asymmetry of power which makes such objectification problematic. The desire seems to be that individuals who may be in secure positions, at least relative to the mostly very insecure positions of those being judged, should contemplate them in a manner which is dehumanising. And hard-luck if people don’t want to be thought about in that way, perhaps by their colleagues or mentors, since it’s all good fun.

2. Young academics (but not only young academics) are already ranked and compared, both as graduate students and in the job market. Many people who are on short-term contracts – increasingly the norm – will have to endure this on an annual basis. It is often a trial and a torment, but at least, or so one can reassure oneself, it serves some purpose. If the end is a job, one might choose voluntarily to subject oneself to the process. But here, there is no end, other than someone’s fun, and no voluntary aspect.  

3. We do, of course, sometimes think of each other and ourselves in this kind of way. But the existence of a practice is no argument for its being a good one. As it happens, I think that the practice is potentially harmful, and probably harmful when it becomes institutionalised in the way which seems to be increasingly common across our discipline. Encouraging people to participate in it on their downtime and for fun only serves to normalise a practice which there may be good reasons to regard with suspicion.

I’m going to stop there, though there are things to be said about how such one-dimensional thinking serves to mask genuine inequalities in our discipline by pretending that the playing field is even. I end by, once again, urging you to remove the question.”

Sexism in Fresher’s week

An article from the Independent, suggesting we need some more compulsory fresher’s classes in feminist philosophy?

““CEOs and Corporate Hoes” themed night.

Perhaps the intention is light-hearted. But it is sobering to consider that these fresh cohorts of new students, perhaps amongst them the CEOs of the future, both male and female, are being sent the message by their own universities that men are CEOs, Pros and Geeks – powerful, talented, intelligent, whilst women are condemned to derisive sexual valuation alone.”

More here–the-sexual-politics-of-freshers-week-8203400.html

Jezebel has already picked up on it:

Opportunity to list some female philosophers

Philosophy Now Magazine is having a ‘fun’ survey, asking us to name favourite philosophers. Whatever you think of the survey, let’s not miss out on the opportunity to get some female names in there [we all know what it will look like otherwise…. ].

Rick Lewis

Philosophy Now magazine is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year, and we are marking the occasion by inviting professional philosophers to respond to a short questionnaire. We think your answers would interest our readers by telling them something about the current state of opinion among academics.

Yes, we realize that questions like “who is your favourite philosopher?” might encourage shallow, oversimplistic judgments but hey, we thought we’d do it anyway. It is mainly for fun.

Please reply to me off-list, and I’ll post a summary of responses here afterwards. Individual responses will be treated as confidential and only summaries of responses will be published, both here and in the magazine. And do please feel free to forward this questionnaire to other professional philosophers.

Best wishes,
Rick Lewis

Editor, Philosophy Now


(Please type your answer below each question).

A] Please name the five historical (ie dead) philosophers you consider the most interesting or important.

B] Please name the five living philosophers you consider the most interesting or important.

C] Please name the rising star among younger philosophers (under 40) who you consider the most worth watching.

D] What current philosophical movement, tendency or approach do you consider to be the most interesting?

E] Which two areas of philosophy (i.e. ‘Philosophy of X’) do you consider to be the most active at the present time?
F] What is the most interesting philosophy book published in the last 5 years?

G] (For data analysis purposes only) Are you: (a) an academic (b) a graduate student (c) other philosopher?

Group ‘Edit-a-thon’ to improve Wikipedia articles about women in science

I thought this might be of interest as a perhaps inspiringly productive way of addressing at least some of the issues we discuss about on this blog……

What: Women in science: Wikipedia workshop

When: Friday 19 October 2012, 14.30-20.00
Where: The Royal Society, London

Group ‘Edit-a-thon’ to improve Wikipedia articles about women in science,
held at the Royal Society’s library.

The event is open to people who are new to Wikipedia and experienced
Wikipedia editors. Female editors are particularly encouraged to attend.

At the workshop representatives from Wikimedia UK will explain how
Wikipedia works and be on hand to answer questions about editing and
improving Wikipedia articles.

The Society’s library holds a rich collection of printed works about women
in science, including biographies and works authored by scientists. At the
event the Society’s librarians will explain more about the collections and
provide guidance on finding sources.

Before the event the Society will select Wikipedia articles relating to
women in science which need improving. Attendees will be encouraged to work
together to edit those articles, using the library’s resources.

For more information and to register for a place please go to:

The future of Philosophy – Men, still?

“Today is World Philosophy Day, people. This is the day when we come together all over the globe (possibly) to honour our august and noble discipline, and are encouraged to entertain new and unfamiliar ideas.” [Hurray!]

“To celebrate, the Philosopher’s Eye is pleased to announce that we will be bringing you five cutting-edge opinion pieces written by highly distinguished philosophers.”

All these “highly distinguished philosophers” turn out to be male. Ugh, somehow that does not sound like a ‘new’ and ‘unfamiliar’ idea to me…..


How to (not?) defend the humanities!

The British Academy host a conference on “the humanities under threat“, featuring a “distinguished panel” of seven male speakers.

No women.

Now, I welcome the organising of such events. But isn’t it precisely the study of humanities that should (also) teach us the value of diversity????? Shouldn’t such a conference set an example of what the study of humanities involves, not merely discuss what it should be? Walk the walk, not merely talk the talk?

Why oh why was this overlooked — again?

rant over.

How to advertise to women

I wondered if anyone shared this feeling. Every time I see this job advert come past (and it’s come to me repeatedly recently, via various lists):

Applications are invited for a permanent lectureship in Philosophy of Cognitive Science [..]. The successful candidate will conduct philosophical and interdisciplinary research and teaching [..]. She or he will have a PhD and publications commensurate with their stage in
career, and should demonstrate potential for attracting external funding.

I go all warm and fuzzy inside. For some reason the mere writing of “she or he” rather than the more usual “he or she” makes me feel that there must be someone behind this post who has really taken some important issues to heart, and who must be really committed to, or at least aware of, the possibility of hiring a woman.

For some reason this way of phrasing the ad makes me feel welcome and included, whereas the more usual phrases of the sort “we are an equal opportunities employer” or “women are particularly encouraged to apply” do not. I guess that the difference is that those latter phrases merely state that women are encouraged – which can seem lipservice – whereas the phrasing in the ad above actually encourages women; it demonstrates a commitment and embodies encouragement.

So, 1) thank you to the writers of this job-advert – you make me happy every time I see it come past, and I hope you will end up hiring the fantastic colleague (of either gender!) you clearly deserve! 2) I wondered what other people on this blog thought – does it make you feel similar, or am I being naive? and if you feel similar, is this something to remember or promote?

p.s. I did not post the full ad or the institution, as I don’t know if that is appropriate. I could put in a link to the advert in comments if that is judged appropriate or is requested.


Gendered Conference Campaign – update and response

Earlier today I posted on an all-male conference line-up and reported that I had written a letter. The organiser of the conference has gotten back to me very quickly, which was extremely instructive. The conference organisers have clearly considered the issues that the gendered conference campaign is concerned with and, since the aim of the campaign is in part to learn how all-male line-ups come about, has subsequently given permission to post his response in full – see below.

I am sure that there is room for disagreement about the specifics. But I thought that his finding that all invited women had declined, and that all invited men had said yes, was interesting. I remember us discussing that on this blog recetly, but – alas – couldn’t find the thread. Can anyone please help – I would like to share it with the organiser?

Then, with thanks: 

As for the absence of women speakers at our conference, you might be surprised to learn that we agree with you! Our conference would be better were the speakers more diverse. As it happens, our two top choices for speakers (after Singer) were women: [name omitted for privacy purposes] and [name omitted for privacy purposes]. Both turned us down. The conference is divided into a variety of smaller topics and, as luck would have it, the ‘backup’ speakers for these speakers’ topics were men. None of the men we invited turned us down (some of the ‘backups’ for their topics were women).

So in this case, I think we might have to chalk it up to the luck of which speakers—at the relevant academic ability, with knowledge of the requisite topic—happened to be both available and willing to participate. It was indeed a disappointment to us when both declined to take part.

I noticed on your blog that you seemed particularly troubled that we would address abortion without a female speaker. As it happens, abortion was not originally going to be discussed, but one of our speakers switched his topic to abortion just a couple weeks ago, long after the speaker line-up was set.

So on all of that, I think you and I are in full agreement. Where it is possible we might disagree is whether, given the above situation, we ought to have found a substitute female speaker no matter what. In other words, must every conference always have at last one female speaker? Not necessarily. For any academic conference, the speakers must possess a knowledge of the relevant field, display academic excellence, be eloquent and respected in their field, and so on. Gender is indeed one factor in choosing a speaker, but at least on my view, it cannot be an overriding factor. I am not interested in the ‘tokenal’ approach of choosing a speaker purely because of his or her gender (or race). We choose the invited women speakers because they are the leading, intentional experts for the respective topics. It was beneficial that, as women, their perspectives would have represented one that would otherwise be absent. But we didn’t choose them because they were women, as if we needed a ‘token woman’ to show up. Yet for the same reasons, we would not choose a replacement solely for reasons of gender.

It may be worth adding that this conference was particularly difficult to find suitable speakers for, given how controversial Singer’s views are. Even though you found the phrase ‘genuine exchange’ something to mock, we are determined that it will be both a cordial and forthright exchange. We discovered, as we considered various speakers, that many were interested only in a platform to challenge Singer, and not in a charitable conversation. This led us to cross-off a number of potential speakers (both men and women), leading to a smaller pool than otherwise.

With kindest regards,
John Perry

McDonald Fellow for Christian Ethics & Public Life

Christ Church

University of Oxford

Thanks, again, John for letting me share!