Reflections on trying to organise a panel with more women

Recently, we—Elisa Freschi and Malcolm Keating—set about organizing a panel for the upcoming ATINER panel. We aimed for a panel which would include significant numbers of women, using suggestions from the Gendered Conference Campaign (GCC) published on the Feminist Philosophers website to achieve this goal. Not only is the result an exciting combination of global philosophical interests which can push back against stereotypes of philosophy as a Western activity, its gender ratio can push back against stereotypes of philosophy as a male activity. Our hope is that the more panels and conferences which work to include women, the more women’s names will come to mind as experts in these topics. Further, hopefully younger generations of women will find it easier to find a path in academic philosophy. And finally, including more women who might otherwise be ignored due to implicit bias means better philosophy will be done.

Click here to read their reflections.

Fantastic new directory of philosophers from underrepresented groups!

Ruth Chang writes:

It is fully searchable and really neat. If you’re a conference organizer looking for philosophers in your city who work on X, you can search the directory and come up with a list of such philosophers from underrepresented groups that fit the bill. If you’re on a hiring committee, and the usual suspects keep coming to mind but you’d like to do a more thorough search, you can pull up the directory and find all philosophers in the directory who work in a general AOS or even on a specific research topic. If you’re an editor looking for a list of possible candidates to invite to contribute to a volume or to referee a paper, the UPDirectory can help you.

This sounds like a really wonderful tool. Go check it out!

A philosophy conference so diverse it merited a news story

The Diverse Lineages of Existentialism meeting was a far cry from a typical philosophy conference. In a discipline dominated by white men, this conference hosted as many women as men and a large number of people of color along with white participants. In a discipline often characterized by its esoteric isolation from public and politics, instead there was outpouring of conversations about social justice and lived human experience. Given the recent public and professional conversations about the lack of diversity in philosophy, the Diverse Lineages of Existentialism (DLE) conference is a hopeful glance into the future of the discipline – one that is long overdue and necessary if philosophy is to continue as a viable and relevant living and growing field, both in the academy and in the public imagination.

More here.

What’s it like trying to avoid a gendered conference?

I had been thinking for a while that it would be useful if we created a space for people to talk about their efforts to improve gender equity at conferences– what worked, what didn’t, what would they do differently, etc. Then somebody wrote to FP because they were so impressed by the gender balance at a conference that Lewis Powell organised. So I asked him what he did. He thinks he didn’t do much, and that it may not even be worth our posting about his efforts. But I think it’s worth showing how easy it (sometimes) is. So here’s what Lewis says:

The short version is that I didn’t do very much to achieve the gender balance. I mean, I invited two women speakers, but that wasn’t part of a concerted effort to ensure gender balance (except in the counterfactual sense that if my initial list had been all men, I would have re-evaluated it in light of my commitment to the GCC). I blind-reviewed the abstracts, and had an explicit plan to re-evaluate those papers that almost made the cut, if it turned out that I had wound up accepting a group that was overwhelmingly male. But this turns out to be merely counterfactual as well, since the gender ratio of accepted papers was 3-3.

With inviting commentators, I was less concerned (since the balance of speakers was already 5 women to 4 men), but the recommendations I got and people I invited on the basis of recommendations wound up being majority women as well (4 women to 2 men).

So, it turned out that I didn’t wind up having to be especially active on the GCC front, and I still have 60% of the participants being women. The gender ratio among applicants was approximately 40% women to 60% men.”

So, readers: tell us your own tales! Do also tell us of difficulties. And a special plea to our readers: do remember the rules of this blog, and don’t assume that someone telling of difficulties is being disingenuous. It IS sometimes hard. In general, I’d appreciate it if comments could be confined to (a) anecdotes about organisation efforts one has oneself engaged in; and (b) suggestions about how problems could be fixed for the future. Let’s avoid second-guessing about past efforts.

2013 MAWM: Registration Open

I just got the below notice, and when I looked at the list of speakers, what do you know? An amazing line-up with lots of women!

On September 14-15, 2013 the University of Notre Dame will host the second Midwest Annual Workshop in Metaphysics (MAWM). We invite and encourage all interested parties to attend! MAWMs are targeted workshops for Midwestern faculty and graduate students working in metaphysics. Each MAWM features 5-7 invited speakers, the majority of whom come from Midwestern institutions. They provide a venue for sharing new research and building community among metaphysicians in the region. For more information and to register for the workshop, visit the website.

Are we returnng to the lawless disenfranchisement of the 1800’s?

The distinguished reporter and political commentator, Elizaberh Drew, thinks so. Below are the beginning and end of her NYRB piece, which has unrestricted access. Her evidence is worth considering. Also worth thinking about is what women can do. Too many important issues are at stake.

The Republicans’ plan is that if they can’t buy the 2012 election they will steal it…Having covered Watergate and the impeachment of Richard Nixon, and more recently written a biography of Nixon, I believe that the wrongdoing we are seeing in this election is more menacing even than what went on then. Watergate was a struggle over the Constitutional powers and accountability of a president, and, alarmingly, the president and his aides attempted to interfere with the nominating process of the opposition party. But the current voting rights issue is even more serious: it’s a coordinated attempt by a political party to fix the result of a presidential election by restricting the opportunities of members of the opposition party’s constituency—most notably blacks—to exercise a Constitutional right.
This is the worst thing that has happened to our democratic election system since the late nineteenth century, when legislatures in southern states systematically negated the voting rights blacks had won in the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

Women Doing Philosophy of Science!

Lots of them, at the British Society for Philosophy of Science.


Unless otherwise indicated, meetings are held at 5.15pm in room T206, in the Centre for the Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, Lakatos Building, Portugal Street, London WC2 and tea and biscuits are served at 5.00pm in Room T16.

15 October 2012 Elselijn Kingma (KCL) – Disease and Dysfunction
26 November 2012 Emma Tobin (UCL) – Domain Specificity in Protein Classification: A Problem for Monism
28 January 2013 Anna Alexandrova (Cambridge HPS) – Determining what Well-Being is: Psychometrics and Philosophy
11 March 2013 Sabina Leonelli (Exeter) – Integrating Data to Acquire New Knowledge
10 June 2013 Pat Bateson (Cambridge) – Plasticity, Robustness, Development and Evolution

A little effort

There’s a great comment from Ned Markosian buried in the discussion on the Ammonius Foundation thread about how a little bit of outreach or encouragement to female philosophers can go a long way. So to keep it from staying buried, I’m giving it a post all its own:

I think it is worth keeping in mind that it takes only a little bit of outreach effort to ensure that a healthy number of women submit papers to a conference, apply for a grant, etc. The program committee for the Bellingham Summer Philosophy Conference typically sends emails to a select number of women to let them know that we would especially value submissions from them (with no suggestion of special treatment or anything like that), and this seems to work pretty well. We tend to get lots of papers from women, and all the papers are then reviewed by referees who do not know anything about the identities of the authors. Two year’s ago the eventual gender breakdown among accepted authors was 5 men and 4 women; last year it was 3 men and 6 women.

Given that such minimal outreach efforts can generate such results, I think we should all be reluctant to justify ongoing gender imbalances merely by saying that very few women submitted or applied. There is usually more that can be done.

Evolution, Gender and Sexuality, and ISH: a conference including women and feminist topics

This year’s ISHPSSB meeting, that is The International Society for The History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology (fondly called ‘Ishkabibble,’ or just ‘Ish’), is fast approaching.   While the deadline for submitting papers has passed, you can still register to attend, or just take a moment to be pleased with the inclusion of women and feminist topics!  It will take place July 10-15, 2011 in Salt Lake City.  Conference themes mentioned in the cfp include: Civic engagement; Race; Policy, science funding, and scientific progress; Sustainability, environment, energy, and economics; Gender and LGBT; Genetic testing; Evo-Devo; and Education.  The conference committee is international and includes prominent women.  And, the conference is associated with a forum on Evolution, Gender and Sexuality.  Well done!

The Forum on Evolution, Gender and Sexuality

The University of Utah Department of Philosophy will be hosting a Biohumanities Public Forum to complement ISHPSSB 2011.  It is scheduled from 7-9 pm on ThursdayJuly 14, following the final ISHPSSB sessions that afternoon.  The topic of the forum is, “Evolution, Gender & Sexuality.”  We are honored to be able to feature three panel members: Elisabeth Lloyd (Indiana University), John Dupré (University of Exeter), and Lisa Diamond (University of Utah).

The following is from the CFP:

Our expectation for the Salt Lake City meeting is that we will have more cross-disciplinary sessions than ever before.  In addition, we expect that all sessions will be geared toward wider audiences.  This was a major thrust of the discussions that came out of the Brisbane meeting in 2009.  Every scholar has numerous meetings in which to present work to her or his peers: historians speaking to historians, philosophers speaking to philosophers, sociologists speaking to sociologists, and biologists from across the spectrum speaking to biologists within their specialty.  ISHPSSB is uniquely situated to provide us the opportunity to talk to each other, across disciplinary boundaries, about biology studies.  In order for this to happen, we need to think broadly about each other as an audience.  We hope you will begin now to look for ways of collaborating.

Presenters should think about ways their work will potentially connect to other sessions throughout the meeting.  We hope this can be accomplished by thinking about the larger themes that are illuminated by your work.  These themes are meant to be broad and overlapping, but will help to provide benchmarks for organizing sessions as well as signposts for people at the conference seeking out areas of inquiry.  Some themes we have identified include: Civic engagement; Race; Policy, science funding, and scientific progress; Sustainability, environment, energy, and economics; Gender and LGBT; Genetic testing; Evo-Devo; and Education.  Details about several of these themes can be found on the bulletin board, and more will be posted as we move forward.  Please note that not all papers and sessions are expected to fit into one of the themes, and we hope that as we see work that pushes beyond these categories we can all be more aware of the new directions scholars and members of ISHPSSB are taking.

And finally, here is the program committee:

Callebaut, Werner

Millstein, Roberta

Santesmases, María Jesús

Suárez, Edna

Stotz, Karola

El-Hani, Charbel

Largent, Mark (co-chair)

Young, Chris (co-chair)

Local organizers are Matt Haber and Jim Tabery