Of possible interest to readers (either to participate in this event or as a model for their own professional associations), the APSA is holding a “hackathon” next month to help men support women’s equality in political science. The hackathon is being organized by Jessica Preece and Macartan Humphreys and being held as part of the APSA’s 2018 annual meeting, Democracy and its Discontents.
Here is a partial description of the hackathon from the conference website:
Hackathons are events where communities of scholars, activists, programmers, and others come together to exchange ideas about and work collaboratively to provide solutions to a common problem. Hackathons may produce multiple outcomes, including the analysis and visualization of new data, websites, apps, research designs, consensus documents, policy proposals, and plans for social interventions. […] Our main goal to build on past and present efforts by APSA and its component organizations to promote diversity and inclusion by creating a collaborative, diverse, and inclusive space for annual meeting participants to come together. At the hackathon, teams will develop strategies that address key challenges facing the profession, build partnerships, and plans to move forward.
In preparation for the hackathon, organizers conducted an open-ended survey of women in the profession, which resulted in this list of suggestions.
Read more about the hackathon here.
(Thanks to JW for the heads up.)
Regan Penaluna started by loving philosophy. Over time, though, the climate for women in the discipline ground her down. Her self-confidence flagged, and she became one of the quiet students rather than one of the vocal, passionate ones. And then she discovered 17th century rationalist and feminist philosopher, Mary Astell.
Penaluna, now a journalist, has just published a popular account of her ups and downs in philosophy, her love affair with Astell, and her eventual departure from the discipline.
Penaluna’s account of Astell is a great primer on an original thinker who deserves more attention than she gets. But just as illuminating is Penaluna’s account of the slow grind of being a woman in philosophy. Her article offers a glimpse into some of the reasons women leave the profession.
You can read Penaluna’s account here.
Liam Kofi Bright has a blog post from November that seems useful to raise today in light of some of the responses to newly publicized allegations regarding sexual harassment against John Searle (story here). Originally posted to register how concerns regarding racism in the US election were addressed, Bright’s post also captures the way responses to sexual harrassment allegations too often transpire, particularly in the philosophy blogosphere.
Informal Omega Inconsistency is when people agree to a general claim but will stubbornly deny or remain absurdly sceptical as to every particular instance of it you produce. So, somebody may well agree that there are bad drivers in Pennsylvania — but every time one points to a particularly erratic person on the road in the state they will say that, no no, this is not a bad driver, this is somebody whose car has suddenly and inexplicably stopped working, or is cursed, or at least they will not believe it is a bad driver till these possibilities have been ruled out, or… whatever. Just for some reason every instance that might witness the existential claim granted turns out not to be granted as an actual instance, no matter what lengths must be gone to deny as much.
Sounds wacky, right? Maybe, but I think it will be easily recognised as a very common by anybody who has ever argued about racism. Of course everybody will agree there are racists, certainly, it’s still a terrible problem and there are lots of liberal pieties I could complete this list with that would gain equally near universal assent in my social circles. But this or that particular instance? Oh no, you have to understand, he’s a very kind soul, you must be misinterpreting what he meant by “All coloureds must die” — maybe he was talking about a novel method of rendering crayons reusable? And, look, he really likes dress up even months after halloween, so that was probably just a ghost costume, and of course he’s a very devout man so he likes to build crosses wherever he goes, but alas he’s a smoker (nobody’s perfect!) so he probably was getting his lighter out then he tripped and fell and it just happened to set the cross ablaze, and….
I parody, but not by as much as you’d like. Lots of people are Informally Omega Inconsistent and it’s super annoying. I think what prevents more general recognition of this fallacy is two things. First, it’s a fallacy that is only recognisable in aggregate. On any one occasion it’s consistent to deny that this witnesses one’s general claim — it only becomes Informal Omega Inconsitency once it’s apparent that this is a matter of policy, that this is how the person always responds to apparent instances of the general claim being made. Second, for reasons that are a bit opaque to me, we tend to think that people `want’ to make the strongest claim they can, so it seems that if somebody wanted to make the general claim they’d be only too happy to grant some instances — but not so, as this experience has taught me.
So much is so familiar. But there are some good ideas we haven’t tried. In particular:
Meeting registrants were required to agree to AAPA’s code of ethics, which forbids sexual harassment and discrimination, and many attendees sported ribbons with antidiscrimination slogans.
Really interestingly, their problems seem just like ours, despite very different numbers. 8 out of 10 of their board members are women, and the association’s members are 56% women.
For more, go here.
April 23, 2016
Keynote Speaker: Penelope Deutscher, Professor of Philosophy, Northwestern University
Duquesne Women in Philosophy (D-WiP) and the Duquesne chapter of Minorities and Philosophy (MAP) invite philosophical papers on the question of reconsidering the philosophical canon. Given the recent discussions on the limitations of the philosophical canon, we aim to facilitate a discussion on the future directions of philosophy, how we may reconsider our reading of the history of philosophy and the question of canonicity. Papers are welcome from historical perspectives as well as from within contemporary philosophical discourse. We invite abstract submissions of maximum 500 words to email@example.com by March 7, 2016. Allotted presentation time will be 20 minutes.
Possible areas of exploration include:
- women in the history of philosophy
- philosophy done from minority perspective in the history of philosophy
- intersection of race and gender in the history of philosophy
- attempts in contemporary philosophy of reformulating the North American and European philosophical canon
- historical or critical approaches to the modernity in terms of canonization of philosophical texts
- feminist writings on the philosophical canon
- problems of race and racism in Modern philosophy
This conference is generously sponsored by Minorities and Philosophy (MAP), Duquesne Programming Council (DPC), and the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts.
There was a five minute break in the Democratic Debate on Dec. 22nd. HRC was late in returning, and the debate started without her. That struck me as a bit outrageous, but it wasn’t high on my list of things to think about. Maybe I should have felt differently as the comments by the conservatives started up. But now I can be glad the Huffington Post has done a great job and saved me the effort.
Everything in the article is worth reading. I’m picking out a snippet that seems to me quite rich with observations, and I hope others will want to read more.
The author is Soraya Chemaly:
I write and talk about controversial subjects all the time – violence, rape, race – but I have never received as vitriolic a response as last summer, when I wrote about the disparity in public facilities for men and women, The Everyday Sexism of Women Waiting in Bathroom Lines; it was a piece about norms and knowledge. Angry people mostly men, by the hundreds, wrote to tell me I was vulgar, stupid, ignorant and should learn to stand in order to pee, because it’s superior. It continued for weeks, until I wrote a follow-up piece on the ten most sexist responses.
People may think that women no longer face sexism in media or politics when they speak, but that ignores the very obvious fact that even before women say anything they have already, in split seconds, jumped through hundreds of “what if I said something about sexism” hoops. Can you imagine the backlash and media frenzy if Clinton had actually, in some detail, pointed out that the women’s room was farther away or that there is often, especially at large public events like this debate, a line that women patiently wait in while men flit in and out and makes jokes about women’s vanity? That the microaggressive hostility evident, structurally, in so many of our legacy public spaces is relevant to women every day. “Bathroom codes enforce archaic and institutionalized gender norms,” wrote Princeton students Monica Shi & Amanda Shi about their school’s systemic sexism this year.
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!
- 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.)
H/T Daily Nous, Carol Cleland, Alison Jaggar, Mi-Kyoung Lee, Claudia Mills, from CU Boulder have published a statement in the Daily Camera:
We are the tenured women professors, and a professor emerita, in the philosophy department at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Over the years, students and faculty in our department, mostly but not only women, have made numerous complaints about unprofessional behavior by certain members of the department.
Many of the complaints focused on sexual misconduct, but others included violations of harassment policy, including its anti-retaliation clause, and violations of the amorous relations policy. On its own, the department was unable to deal with these complaints — many of which were not formally reported because of fears of retaliation; in any case, by university and state regulations, professors are prohibited from undertaking investigations and sanctions on their own.
For this reason, we, and many of our colleagues, are grateful both to Andy Cowell, our external chair, as well as to the CU-Boulder administration, for taking strong and decisive action to investigate wrongdoing, for committing significant resources to punish those found in violation of university regulations, and for investing in the future of our department. Although the process has been and continues to be painful, we believe that the outcome will be positive.
We are in the process of stopping behavior that was harmful, especially to the women students and faculty in our department, and we are taking steps to make sure that in the future, such problems either will be prevented or, if they occur, will be addressed quickly and effectively. Although these measures may have temporarily damaged the reputation of our department in some quarters, we are confident that we can rebuild on stronger foundations.
We intend to repudiate a secret culture of misbehavior and to win back the confidence of prospective students and faculty on the basis of hard-won achievements with respect to the climate as well as the commitment of a solid core of faculty members to an inclusive and welcoming work environment for all.
Many of you may have already read the heartbreaking Rolling Stone piece on sexual assault at University of Virginia. If you haven’t, here’s the lede:
Jackie was just starting her freshman year at the University of Virginia when she was brutally assaulted by seven men at a frat party. When she tried to hold them accountable, a whole new kind of abuse began.
And a snippet:
UVA’s emphasis on honor is so pronounced that since 1998, 183 people have been expelled for honor-code violations such as cheating on exams. And yet paradoxically, not a single student at UVA has ever been expelled for sexual assault.
“Think about it,” says Susan Russell, whose UVA daughter’s sexual-assault report helped trigger a previous federal investigation. “In what world do you get kicked out for cheating, but if you rape someone, you can stay?”
Attorney Wendy Murphy, who has filed Title IX complaints and lawsuits against schools including UVA, argues that in matters of sexual violence, Ivy League and Division I schools’ fixation with prestige is their downfall. “These schools love to pretend they protect the children as if they were their own, but that’s not true: They’re interested in money,” Murphy says. “In these situations, the one who gets the most protection is either a wealthy kid, a legacy kid or an athlete. The more privileged he is, the more likely the woman has to die before he’s held accountable.” Indeed, UVA is the same campus where the volatile relationship of lacrosse star George Huguely V and his girlfriend Yeardley Love was seen as unremarkable – his jealous rages, fanned by over-the-top drinking – until the 2010 day he kicked open her door and beat her to death.
Since the piece came out, a letter, which Slate reports has over 127 UVa faculty signatories, began circulating:
We are all heartbroken and enraged after reading Wednesday’s article in Rolling Stone. The extreme violence that was reported is shocking and demands an unequivocal response that we will not tolerate violence against our students.
U.Va faculty, staff, and students have been debating how we might most effectively respond.
As an initial step, we propose a policy that institutes an immediate freeze on activities by any student organizations that are currently under investigation for sexual misconduct and sexual assault.
Further, we call on the Greek System to collectively and voluntarily suspend activities this weekend in light of recent events and out of respect for the survivors of sexual violence on our campus.
We believe this immediate action will be an important first step in sending the message that violence against our students will not be tolerated. It will also send a clear message to fraternities, that if they stand by and fail to intervene in sexual violence, or if they knowingly do not report sexual violence, the activities of their fraternity will be suspended.
We demand seeing this important response implemented,
Most faculty steer clear of Rugby Road on a Saturday night. Tomorrow, however, in response to the recent Rolling Stone article and to ongoing problems of sexual violence at the university, faculty and instructors from the University of Virginia are joining the party. We are planning an action for 11pm this Saturday on Rugby Road, following the home football game. The purpose of “Take Back the Party” is to protest a social culture that puts our female students at unacceptable risk. UVA faculty in all manner of academic dress will gather on Beta Bridge to demand a safe environment for women as well as for men.
I’m heartened by the response of UVA faculty members who were moved to act in solidarity with victims on their campus, and their desire to work towards change. Despite the brutality of sexual assault, the negative publicity it brings universities both when it happens and when it is not handled properly, and the legal protections offered by Title IX in the US, still, too often, universities treat both victims and perpetrators as if they were mere figures in a cost-benefit analysis. Still, too often it is easier for campus communities to look the other way. It can be difficult to know what to do, how you can help, or whether you have the power to make a difference, so it is encouraging to see the UVA faculty act with purpose and conviction.