The issue of conferences in which all the invited speakers are male is probably well known to blog readers, and is the target of campaigns such as the Gendered Conference Campaign and the hilarious Tumblr Congrats, You Have An All Male Panel. Recently, Greg Martin, a mathematician at UBC, gave an interview with the Atlantic with a nice mathematical argument showing that most all-male panels are in fact statistically quite unlikely. This nicely undercuts an all-too-common response among conference organizers that their all-male panel “just happened” or was simply the result of chance.
If conference speakers were being chosen by a system that treated gender fairly (which is to say, gender was never a factor at all), then in any conference with over 10 speakers, say, it would be extremely rare to have no female speakers at all—less than 5 percent chance, depending on one’s assumption about the percentage of women in mathematics as a whole.
Turning that statement around, we conclude that any such conference without any female speakers must have come into being in a system that does not treat gender fairly.
Martin’s interview also links to a Conference Diversity Calculator that lets you play around with calculating the likelihoods of various demographic distributions among conference speakers, given their representation among the pool of available speakers.
Not a new argument, but a useful source:
“fooled by Experience”
Hogarth, Robin M.
Harvard Business Review. May2015, Vol. 93 Issue 5, p72-77. 6p.
As Peter Drucker wrote, “The first rule in decision making is that one does not make a decision unless there is disagreement.” To devise healthy strategies, executives need to hear many perspectives, including feedback that is critical of their own actions. Executives should surround themselves with people from diverse backgrounds and promote independent thinking in their team. Many executives task certain coworkers, friends, or family members with speaking frankly on important matters.
Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, stresses the importance of building a brain trust, a group of advisers who will deflate egos and voice unpopular opinions. He argues in his September 2008 HBR article that disagreements in meetings end up benefiting everyone in the long run, because “it’s far better to learn about problems from colleagues when there’s still time to fix them than from the audience after it’s too late.”
Also from the same issue of the Harvard Business Review:
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.
There is, obviously, a lot that still needs to be done to make our profession the place we’d like it to be. And I find it’s far too easy to let negative stuff dominate my consciousness. So over the last few days I’ve been asking people to send me lists of good things that have happened in our profession in the last year. Here’s a start. Please add more in comments!
- The Under-represented Philosophers Database is up and running.
- The BPA/SWIP UK Good Practice Scheme was instituted, and has already been adopted by several departments and learned societies/journals.
- MAP (Minorities and Philosophy) has more than doubled its chapters.
- Efforts to unionise adjuncts have been gaining in strength,with an upcoming adjunct walkout day.
- The new blog, What is it Like to be a Person of Colour in Philosophy?.
- The new blog, What is it Like to be a Foreigner in Academia?
- The new blog, What is it Like to be Trans* in Academia?
- The APA Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion has completed its first report, to be published shortly.
- The APA has appointed Task Forces to create a Code of Conduct and a Best Practices Scheme.
- The CSW Site Visit programme has carried out 5 site visits, and has 3 more scheduled. One of these was to the University of Miami, which writes:
The faculty and graduate students of the philosophy department at the University of Miami would like to thank the members of the site visit team dispatched by the APA Committee on the Status of Women as part of their Site Visit Program. The team’s visit to our campus (March 2014) was a highly positive experience for the department and we received a very constructive and helpful report. We expect to make a number of changes in our customary practices and departmental policies based on its recommendations. We strongly endorse both the goals and methods of the Site Visit Program and recommend it to other departments that aim to assess and improve climate issues.
- There are starting to be very significant discussions online about socioeconomic class within philosophy.
- The first Mentoring Workshop for graduate women in philosophy was held.
- Feminist Philosophy Quarterly was founded, first issue coming this Spring.
- Market Boost for Women in Philosophy was founded.
- The new Journal of the APA has started, with a great collection of editors.
- There’s been a great NYT series on race and philosophy.
- The Women’s Caucus of the Philosophy of Science Association has had its best attended meeting ever, with 83 people (despite being at 7.30 AM).
- David Chalmers assembled a great list of guidelines for respectful discussion.
- The American Society for Aesthetics has adopted the goals of the Gendered Conference Campaign.
- After decade upon decade of very tiny numbers, in the last five years women have become well-represented on the APA board.
- Projects like Dismantling the Master’s House are tackling the legacy of the British Empire in Academia.
- The Daily Nous, a great addition to the philosophical blogosphere, began in March.
- Many, many people speaking up and taking action– individually or collectively– to improve the profession.
- Finally, as we’re all aware, it’s been a year in which thinking about climate went mainstream in philosophy. More and more people, at more and more departments, are asking what they can do to create a better environment for women and members of other and overlapping underrepresented groups. Some of this has been painful and difficult. Some of it has been joyful and fun. For the next year, let’s hope the joyful outweighs the painful. (But let’s go on doing the painful when it really needs to be done.)
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 new edited volume from OUP with thirteen papers and zero female authors.
From the description:
This volume presents thirteen essays by some of the most important scholars in the field of philosophical logic. The essays offer ground-breaking new insights into the nature of logical consequence; the relation between logic and inference; how the semantics and pragmatics of natural language bear on logic; the relativity of logic; and the structural properties of the consequence relation.
This week sees the launch of the Humane Philosophy Project/Ian Ramsey Centre
2014-15 seminar. Details below. More information can be found at
http://www.humanephilosophy.com or http://www.ianramseycentre.info/
The following seminars will be given on Thursdays at 8:30pm, preceded by
refreshments at 8:15pm, in the Aula of Blackfriars Hall, St Giles, Oxford.
Seminars are free and open to the public. Conveners: Dr Andrew Pinsent;
Mikolaj Sławkowski-Rode and Ralph Weir.
Alister McGrath, Professor of Science and Religion, University of Oxford,
23 Oct: ‘“Tis all in pieces, all coherence gone” (John Donne): The search
for coherence in science and religion’
Daniel Came, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Hull
6 Nov: ‘Nietzsche on art and philosophy’
Anthony Kenny, Former Master of Balliol, President of the British Academy
and the Royal Institute of Philosophy
20 Nov: ‘Humanism vs anthropomorphism’
Alexander Stoddart, Her Majesty’s Sculptor in Ordinary in Scotland
4 Dec: ‘The molten calf and the contemporary art world’