Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Austin TX staff training session: Men Are From Earth, Women Aren’t May 16, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — lanternerouge @ 8:22 am

The city of Austin, Texas recently elected a municipal council with a majority of women councilors. The city manager’s office deemed this such a profound change to the operations of government that a special training session was arranged to teach city staff, who are apparently recruited directly from the monastery of Mount Athos, how to work with women-folk.

Surprisingly, an office that thinks this session is a good idea seems not to be an office rich in contacts with workplace gender experts. So one of the expert presenters turned up and cited that locus classicus of empirical evidence and conceptual subtlety, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. And the other based his warnings — notably, that women ask a lot of questions and don’t like numbers — on his personal experience:

The city commission [Allen] had worked with is all-female, which apparently qualified him for the job. Plus, he has an 11-year-old daughter who plays volleyball. (Allen was later fired from his city manager position for unrelated reasons.)

I’m glad to hear that the firing was for unrelated reasons. Letting their 11 year-old play volleyball would be a terrible reason to fire someone.

After the Internet and social media got their WTF on, the city manager appears to have realized that an apology was called for. That was good. But his apology wasn’t for the right thing. That was bad.

“I have to acknowledge that this particular training should have received proper vetting. I must take responsibility for that not having occurred,” [Austin city manager Marc] Ott states to reporters.

Well, no. The problem wasn’t a failure to vet the content of the presentations; arguably the presenters did more or less what they were supposed to do. The content was ridiculous because the idea for this training session was terrible. (Because there are philosophers on the Internet: of course in a different possible world, an idea for a training session might not be terrible. E.g., if it were already known that the staff environment were one hostile to women. In that very different case, though, a very different kind of intervention than this would have been required — earlier, and not simply because more women had been elected.) A better apology in this case would have focused on the decision to arrange staff training of this sort in the first place: i.e., predicated on lazy generalizations about women, and on the idea that accountability to women representatives is a deviant case, requiring special preparation for staff beyond basic professionalism, courtesy, and respect.



Filed under: Uncategorized — Sam B @ 6:09 pm

The APA Newsletter on LGBT Issues in Philosophy invites members to submit papers, book reviews, and professional notes for publication in the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 editions. Submissions can address issues in the areas of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, gender, and sexuality studies, as well as issues of concern for
LGBT people in the profession. The newsletter seeks quality paper submissions for anonymous review. Reviews and notes should address recent books, current events, or emerging trends. Members who give papers at APA Division Meetings, in particular, are encouraged to submit their work by the appropriate deadlines.


Fall Issue: June 15, 2015

Spring Issue: January 15 1, 2016

These deadlines are based on the APA National Office deadlines for submitting

materials for publication in the fall and spring issues of their newsletters.


Papers should not exceed 12,000 words.

Reviews and Notes should not exceed 5,000 words.

All submissions must use endnotes.

All papers should be prepared for anonymous-review.

Submit all manuscripts electronically (PDF or MS Word), and direct questions to:

Kory Schaff

Editor, APA Newsletter on LGBT Issues in Philosophy




Elizabeth Barnes on Doing Philosophy of Disability

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennysaul @ 12:20 pm

A really wonderful post that is also, and relatedly, on anger.

I have sat in philosophy seminars where it was asserted that I should be left to die on a desert island if the choice was between saving me and saving an arbitrary non-disabled person. I have been told it would be wrong for me to have my biological children because of my disability. I have been told that, while it isn’t bad for me to exist, it would’ve been better if my mother could’ve had a non-disabled child instead. I’ve even been told that it would’ve been better, had she known, for my mother to have an abortion and try again in hopes of conceiving a non-disabled child. I have been told that it is obvious that my life is less valuable when compared to the lives of arbitrary non-disabled people. And these things weren’t said as the conclusions of careful, extended argument. They were casual assertions. They were the kind of thing you skip over without pause because it’s the uncontroversial part of your talk.

So sorry– forgot to put the link in! It’s here.


Early men and women were equal, say scientists

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sam B @ 11:13 am

From the Guardian: “Study shows that modern hunter-gatherer tribes operate on egalitarian basis, suggesting inequality was an aberration that came with the advent of agriculture.”

Read more here: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/may/14/early-men-women-equal-scientists


What makes a TED talk go viral May 14, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sam B @ 7:59 pm

I read this piece Does body language help a TED Talk go viral? 5 nonverbal patterns from blockbuster talks while thinking about the videos of my lectures I’m creating for an online course.

Excerpt: “All TED Talks are good. Why do only some go viral? Over the last year, a human behavior consultancy called Science of People set out to answer this question. To do so, says founder Vanessa Van Edwards, they polled 760 volunteers, asking them to rate hundreds of hours of TED Talks, looking for specific nonverbal and body language patterns. To ensure comparability, they limited talks to videos that had been posted on TED.com in 2010 and were between 15 and 20 minutes long.”

Van Edwards found out that hand gestures matter a lot, so too does spontaneity, and smiling. Smiling matters a lot. Viewers consistently rated those who smiled a lot while talking as more intelligent than those who didn’t. Also you only have 7 seconds to impress or not. That’s the amount of time in which people made up their mind how good a speaker was.

Content actually didn’t make as much difference as you might expect. Videos got the same ratings whether they we were watched with the sound on or off.

“Let’s talk through some of the patterns you noticed. I was pretty shocked by the conclusion that people rate speakers comparably whether they listened to the content of the talk or not. How did you find that?

We did a couple different screenings of the talks. We have about 40,000 subscribers on our website, and get about 100,000 to 200,000 visitors a month, so we’re able to get a lot of data quickly. In one of the screenings, we had half the participants watch talks on silent, and half watch talks with sound. We asked both of the groups the exact same questions: How would you rate this talk overall? How charismatic is the speaker? How intelligent is the speaker? How credible is the speaker? And we found that the people who watched the talks on mute rated speakers almost exactly the same as the people who had watched the talks with sound. The one exception was David Blaine’s TED Talk, I think because it included a lot of videos of him from previous endeavors and that confused people. For his talk, the ratings were different.”

But gender isn’t addressed and it made me wonder. I tend to smile a lot when speaking and I’ve always worried that it undermined judgements about my intelligence and that I ought to try to look more serious. I’ve worried that women who smile too much are thought of as being less smart.

Anyone know what the literature says about this? Hand gestures, I’m sold. But I’m curious about smiling.


How not to advertise a philosophy conference?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sam B @ 6:54 pm


Rebecca Kukla comments on Facebook: “Um. Some one(s) thought this was funny but it seems super offensive to me. Philosophy conference as mostly naked mostly male combat sport with lots of chaotic fighting? Ugggghh.”and “I’m super annoyed at this.the whole keynote speaker as macho he-man warrior is also too much to bear. Can you imagine if the genders were reversed and they had the two female keynotes’ heads superimposed on the bodies of nearly naked hypersexualized models?”

And it’s a bioethics conference, a sub-field in Philosophy not exactly known for its shortage of women.

Better imagery please. I worry that this one perpetuates the worst stereotypes of philosophers, all combative and male.


Congrats! You have an all male panel.

Filed under: Uncategorized — axiothea @ 11:44 am

A less polite variation of our gendered conference campaign letter but also a visual record of what it’s like when there are no women speakers, here.


Literature on all-women spaces and femininity?

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennysaul @ 11:43 am

A student is looking for literature on all-women spaces, like e.g. women’s schools. She’s especially interested in the extent to which femininity is or isn’t performed (or is performed differently) in these places. Any pointers?


Society for Modern Philosophy: Reflections on Canon

Filed under: Uncategorized — axiothea @ 11:39 am


Lewis Powell kindly posted the drafts of two great papers from the Pacific APA 2015 panel for the Society of Modern Philosophy. Lisa Shapiro and Justin Smith address questions about the nature of the philosophical canon, and in particular about why it is so narrow and excludes in particular women authors.

Originally posted on The Mod Squad:

This past spring at the Pacific division meeting of the American Philosophical Association, the Society for Modern Philosophy hosted a panel about the Modern Canon featuring Lisa Shapiro and Justin E. H. Smith.  Despite the panel occurring at dinner time on the final evening of the program, it was well attended, and led to some lively discussion during the Q&A.  I am pleased to share the following documents with anyone who wasn’t able to attend the session.*

Lisa Shapiro: What is a Philosophical Canon

Justin Smith: The ‘Two Libraries Problem’: Poetry, ‘Fancy’, and the Philosophical Canon

The session and subsequent discussion were extremely interesting, and I hope that future SMP panels continue to be as fascinating and thought-provoking.  Joining the society is free, and means receiving a handful of e-mails from me over the course of the year, as well as giving you the opportunity to help plan society events or projects.

View original 17 more words


Professor accused of racism for talking about race on twitter May 12, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — magicalersatz @ 4:17 pm

Incoming Boston University professor Saida Grundy is being publicly accused of racism over remarks she made about race on Twitter (remarks her university is now saying were ‘offensive’ though still part of her protected free speech.) Prof. Grundy – who is Black – made a sarcastic comment on Twitter about it being time we admit that white college males are a ‘problem population’ due to their tendency to riot about sports (in response to the repeated claims, in the coverage of recent events in Baltimore, that young black men are a ‘problem population’). She also mentioned that every MLK day she tries to spend money only in black-owned businesses, and finds this nearly impossible. For these kinds of remarks – which Fox News has gleefully gotten wind of – she’s being accused of racism and bigotry and her qualifications to be a university professor are being called into question. Even worse, BU seems increasingly willing to throw her under the bus.

UPDATE: There is now a change.org petition, directed at the president of BU, in support of Prof. Grundy. Please consider signing! BU’s president weighed in on the controversy earlier today, apparently objecting to Prof. Grundy’s ‘rancor’, among other things.

UPDATE: Prof. Grundy has issued a brief statement in BU’s student newspaper.



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