In response to Eugene Sun Park’s article on why he left philosophy, Brian Leiter writes:
“What I still do not believe is that we should add Asian philosophers, or African-American philosophers, to the curriculum in order to “encourage” (on some misguided theory) minorities to enroll in philosophy courses.”
I agree. We certainly should not add anyone to the curriculum on the basis of a misguided theory. But knowing all that we know about stereotype and implicit bias, we have very well-supported theories in favour of adding demographic diversity to our syllabi. Knowledge of these theories tells us that our selections for syllabi are very likely influenced by implicit biases which it make it more likely that we will select white men. It also tells us that demographically diversifying our syllabi is no mere marketing ploy, but rather something which is likely to have real effects on the attitudes not just of students from underrepresented groups, but also on those of other students.* Those who are making such suggestions are not acting as “identity politics police”, as Leiter would have it. We are carefully examining the evidence, and working to improve our profession. Eugene Park’s testimony is a further piece of evidence (albeit anecdotal) that these suggestions are on the right track.
*For a summary of some of this, see my “Implicit Bias, Stereotype Threat and Women in Philosophy”, downloadable at the lower right, here.
I’m putting together my reading list for next term’s module on distributive justice, and aiming that it NOT be a total sausage fest. I’m finding it surprisingly easy – so many great women political philosophers!
There are two topics I (and perhaps other interested readers?) would really benefit from reading recommendations on:
a) prioritarian principles (either arguing for or being critical of them), and
b) so called left-libertarianism. Any ideas?
A pretty striking statement about the underrepresentation of women from the Editors at Nature. A cause for cautious optimism? Might have been nice if they’d said more about what those ‘unconscious factors’ are, but the resulting heuristic is still a promising one:
We believe that in commissioning articles or in thinking about who is doing interesting or relevant work, for all of the social factors already mentioned, and possibly for psychological reasons too, men most readily come to editorial minds. The September paper speculated about an unconscious assumption that women are less competent than men. A moment’s reflection about past and present female colleagues should lead most researchers to correct any such assumption.
We therefore believe that there is a need for every editor to work through a conscious loop before proceeding with commissioning: to ask themselves, “Who are the five women I could ask?”
An attorney named Roy Den Hollander has caused a stir recently by filing a suit against Columbia University, alleging that by offering courses in women’s studies, the university discriminates against men (NYT report here). Den Hollander describes himself as an anti-feminist, and has tastefully declared himself to be on a “jihad” against feminists. You can read more about his colourful background and campaign here and here.
There’s not much point in wasting time on the substance of his suit, but I was rather taken with his accusation that Columbia uses government money to promote a “religionist belief system called feminism.” I suppose it’s probably just hyperbole; he can’t possibly think that feminism actually is a religion. But it did make me think of the advantages that might accrue if it were established as such. In the UK, we could look forward to charitable status for all feminist organisations; a regular slot on Thought for the Day; and, most excitingly, the chance to run feminist faith schools. Maybe, one day, we could even cement our status as a mature religion with internecine wrangling and eventual schism over the ordination of male clergy. Any suggestions for an appropriate deity?
This study (of anthropologists) suggests that they do– as compared to women in other professions with similar training times. Many interesting puzzles to be found in the data, but I’ll never get this book written if I get started on them here! (Thanks, Sally!)