Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Lovely overview of stereotype threat September 8, 2015

Filed under: gender,science,stereotypes — jennysaul @ 5:57 pm

from an MIT student.  And it contained a discussion of a remarkable study I hadn’t come across before, on how to eliminate the gap between men and women on mental rotation.  It turns out that just spending a little time imagining oneself as a stereotypical male raises women’s scores so dramatically the gap is reduced to statistical insignificance.

In a now-famous study, psychologists at the University of Berlin falsely told participants that they had been selected to participate in a series of tests “to measure the ability to put oneself in someone else’s position” – a fabrication devised to avoid confounding factors in their real study on gender identity priming. They prepared a text describing a day in the life of a “stereotypical woman” who takes care of her family, works part time, and is insightful, helpful, and agreeable. They also prepared an equivalently-structured text outlining the activities of a stereotypical manly man who is tough, risk-taking, and does weight training after work. Subjects were randomly given one of the two texts, and then asked: “If you were the person described in the text, which adjectives would you use to describe yourself?”

Soon after participants described themselves with either the male- or female-associated traits, they were asked to take a mental rotation test presented as independent of the first part of the study, supposedly to measure their personal spatial aptitude. On this mental rotation test, women who were “primed” with the female identity scored an average of 3.86 on the exercise, compared to the female-primed males’ average of 5.14. Okay, expected. But then when primed with the male text, women scored an average of 5.49, while men scored 5.53… wait a second, what?

As it turns out, there is zero statistically significant gender difference in mental rotation ability after test-takers are asked to imagine themselves as stereotypical men for a few minutes. None. An entire standard deviation of female underperformance is negated on this condition, just as a man’s performance is slightly hindered if he instead imagines himself as a woman. (well then.) Although this study is of course not a logically definitive answer to all things “nature versus nurture,” it does add a tremendous structural asset to the growing mountain of evidence that “natural” ability differences are confounded by identity and subconscious self-stereotyping. Demographic expectations may be subtle or overt, but they are omnipresent, and they are likely much more powerful than most of us have ever considered.

Thanks to S, and S, for calling this article to my attention!


Gender in International Relations Syllabi August 31, 2015

Filed under: gender inequality — Stacey Goguen @ 2:06 pm

Synopsis of some research by Jeff Colgan, political science, here.

“The data suggest that 82 percent of assigned readings in IR proseminars are written by all-male authors (i.e., women or co-ed teams account for the other 18 percent). That percentage is high, but it is also roughly consistent with the gender pattern of articles published in top IR journals (81 percent male-authored).”

“We found that female instructors tend to assign more readings by female authors than male instructors. Men or all-male teams authored “only” 71.5 percent of readings in courses taught by female instructors. By contrast, male authors wrote 79.1 percent of readings in courses taught by male instructors.  “

“Female instructors are also considerably more averse to assigning their own research as required readings. They assigned an average of 1.68 readings that they themselves had written (as solo or co-author). Male instructors assigned about twice as much of their own work: an average of 3.18 readings. “


How not to address sexual harassment August 19, 2015

Filed under: appearance,gender,gender inequality,politics,sexual harassment — noetika @ 1:11 am

Missouri legislature edition (via HuffPo):

“We need a good, modest, conservative dress code for both the males and females,” state Rep. Nick King (R) said in an email to colleagues. “Removing one more distraction will help everyone keep their focus on legislative matters.”

The state legislature began working on its new intern program policies after Missouri House Speaker John Diehl (R) resigned in May, when the Kansas City Star revealed he sent sexually suggestive text messages to a 19-year-old intern.

Two months later, Sen. Paul LeVota (D) resigned after two interns accused him of sexual harassment. In a statement, he denied any wrongdoing.

But the problem appears to be more widespread. Dozens of women have said they were sexually harassed while working at the state capitol. In that report, a former state senator called the culture in Jefferson City “very anything goes.”

On Monday, state Rep. Kevin Engler (R) sent out a list of proposed changes for the program to his fellow House members. The Kansas City Star reported that that’s when several legislators, initiated by state Rep. Bill Kidd (R), responded by suggesting Engler should add an intern dress code to the list.


Papineau v. Manne on Twitter August 18, 2015

Filed under: academia,gender,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 9:24 pm

The snapshot below of the twitter exchange is pretty self explanatory. It might help to know that Papineau is referring to a letter from Manne that the TLS printed, with unfortunately one sentence ommitted that’s unfortunate because the ommitted sentence, as I underrstood it, went into some specifics about how philosophical combat works against women. This missing material is brought up in the exchange.

Part of Manne letter is copied here.

There was quite a bit more to the twitter exchange. I’m putting it up because it vivdly illustrates how a senior philosopher with a great deal of experience of academia, can be quite clueless about a powerful negative feature women face.

And I’d love to hear what you all think.

Unfortunately the links on the snapshot don’t work.



Another Title IX lawsuit against Northwestern is proceeding August 15, 2015

Filed under: academia,gender inequality,law,sexual harassment — noetika @ 11:03 pm

This time, from a student in the School of Medicine.

A Feinberg School of Medicine student is suing Northwestern under Title IX saying the school responded with “deliberate indifference” after he reported he was sexually harassed by a professor.

A federal judge ruled last week that the student can move forward with his Title IX lawsuit against the University. His lawyer confirmed Friday that he will do so.

Judge Sara L. Ellis ruled Aug. 6 that the medical student can make his case that the University retaliated against him and did not respond as rapidly or as strongly to his grievances as it has to similar complaints filed by female students. Ellis dismissed the student’s allegation that the University responded inadequately to his sexual harassment complaint.

The student says a Feinberg microbiology and pathology professor sexually harassed him and later retaliated against him after the student rejected his advances by assigning him poor grades, opposing his application to a fellowship and directing others to discontinue a promised scholarship, according to the suit.


Kiran Gandhi: Menstrual blood and the London Marathon

Filed under: academia,gender,politics — annejjacobson @ 5:58 pm


The picture to the left is of Kiran Gandhi, a drummer for M.I.A., who ran the recent London Marathon after having started her period. She did not use a tampon. One result is the stain between her legs. Another is a lot of outrage and accusations. Her account of her motives is on her blog.

There are a lot of issues that surround menstruation. One set of issues she wants addressed more widely is the shame many women feel about menstruating. Another is the fact that many women in the world do not have access to products that can in some way contain the blood. She also thought she would be compromising her health choices in order to make people more comfortable, which doesn’t sound like a great idea.

So what do you think? For my own sake I have the uneasy feeling as I put this post up that the sky might come crashing down on my head.


Sex, Gender, and Survey Practices August 13, 2015

Filed under: Blogroll,gender,methodology,sex,sociolology,Uncategorized — Lady Day @ 5:37 pm

There’s a great new post up over at SWS’s Gender and Society page describing a recent study of the deployment of sex and gender categories in U.S. surveys. The results are troubling and illuminating. Here’s a taste:

One surprising finding is that when these surveys are conducted face-to-face or by telephone Americans are not asked to self-identify their sex or gender at all. Instead, the survey interviewer determines the category for the people they interview. The box for “male” or “female” gets checked off based on an unstated set of criteria that could include anything from their name, their voice, their dress or physical appearance, or their relationship to other people in their household. Occasionally, interviewers are instructed to ask a direct question, but only if the person’s sex or gender “is not obvious.” Even then, it is often presumed that asking someone this question will be awkward, likely because of the belief that a person’s sex or gender should be obvious.

H/t DF.


clinton, Mind-reading and attributions of racism July 25, 2015

Filed under: bias,gender,politics,race — annejjacobson @ 8:30 pm

There’s a kind of mind-reading that seems to me to be very prevalent in the US.  It often goes so far as to assume that someone other than X is better able to tell what X thinks than X is.  This not a harmless assumption, and it is built on a false assumption about our access to other minds.  In fact, our mind-reading is prone to a lot of mistakes once we get beyond the very simple tests used on 4 year olds in psychology.

Most recently Hilary Clinton is being victimized by mind-reading.  She said:

Race remains a deep fault line in America. Millions of people of color still experience racism in their everyday lives.

Here are some facts.

Let’s be honest: For a lot of well-meaning, open-minded white people, the sight of a young Black man in a hoodie still evokes a twinge of fear. And news reports about poverty and crime and discrimination evoke sympathy, even empathy, but too rarely do they spur us to action or prompt us to question our own assumptions and privilege.


Apparently, a lot of people looked at this and said she wouldn’t have said this unless she felt that fear. So she is a racist.

But in fact the comment about fear was one of a long list of bad facts about racism in the States. And she said we must admit these features exist and get rid of them.

So the racism is most certainly not in her words. It is an injustice to report that it is in her head.

Many thanks to Rachek McKinnon for bringing this up on facebook. Of course, as Rachel said, on the left this might all just be misogyny. If so, hang on because it’s probably going to be a horrible election season.


“I’m Sorry!” July 7, 2015

Filed under: bias,gender,politics — annejjacobson @ 3:00 pm

The research reported in a post below concludes that women are disproportionately made to feel guilty for any lapses in caring behavior.  If that’s true, one might expect to see (some/many) women as very prone to apologize a great deal, even for things only vaguely connected to them, to feel bad when they are especially assertive, and even to offer care-taking when it is hardly appropriately.

The skit by the comedian Amy Schumer linked to below captures such behavior.  Can you relate?




Sunday’s Dateline: UPDATE June 21, 2015

I don’t think of FeministPhilosophers as a recommendation source for tv shows, but this item is an exception. Here is what my tv listings says:

A look at the way students and universities deal with the issue of campus sexual assaults.

My main questions: Will it be bearable? How full of errors? Any friends featured?

UPDATE:  you can watch it here.



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