Hillary Clinton will accept, the Guardian says: Caveat added

Congrats to the Guardian for getting the story before at least CNN and the NY Times.  And congratulations to Obama for picking a strong woman with a lot of experience and a deep commitment to human rights.  Obama is apparently following the Lincoln policy of putting former rivals in the cabinet in order to build a broad-based coalition.  And, given the amount of work she did for him, “former” is the right word.

If the Guardian is  wrong, I may cry.

Caveat:  After some searching among news sources, I have to say that on this side of the pond whether Obama is going to make the offer seems still to be in question.  At the same time, some commentators were clear that there would be a gap between what’s the official activity (vetting Bill, for example) and what’s really happened.  So the Guardian report seems premature.  Or not.

Summers for secretary of the Treasury?

Precisely what Larry Summers said is unclear; I think the transcript suggested he was conjecturing that women are in some innate  way less capable than men in science and maths.  Does that  raise any obstacles to his serving as secretary of the treasury, a position for which he is said to be being considered?

Had he been conjecturing about the innate inferiority of African Americans in maths, would that make him more unacceptable?

He is supposed to be a brilliant economist, and goodness knows the world economy needs some brilliant problem solvers.  So I’d be willing to go for his appointment were it not for the fact that we are already a couple of steps into the  compromise.  Or maybe more, Hillary supporters would surely want to insist.

What do you think?

“no one seems to be focused on the horror”: PS

From email from a friend:

Galveston is still such a sad place right now.  In my driving around, it is horrible seeing people just standing there next to a pile of all of their belongings with blank looks on their faces.  It breaks my heart.  I almost feel like I am in mourning – we’ve lost so many people and businesses in the past few weeks and we don’t know if the Island will ever be the same.  Our public schools have only half of their enrollment, there are only a limited number of church services on weekends, and whenever an old restaurant re-opens, we are happy for them …   UTMB [a major medical school] is shrinking their beds from 600 to 200 and will most likely lay off 4000 employees in the next few months – that news is almost as tragic to many Galvestonians as the storm.  
Galveston was such an interesting place to grow up … we were raised knowing that a time would come when we would have to depend on a neighbor to pull us up onto their raft during a storm and we wanted to make sure that the neighbor would make room for us!!  Nowadays, smart people leave during a storm, but when they return, it is still nice to know that there is still a basic kindness and helpfulness with our Islanders – that won’t change. 
In an editorial by Dolph Tillotson, editor of the Daily News, he wrote about that no one seems to be focused on the horror going on in Galveston and he, too, attributed it to the fact that we are not standing around looking for handouts – everyone seems to be busy working and helping others. 


PS:  If you work through the controversy expressed in the comments, it might be worth being aware of the history that is mentioned in #5.

Ask for equal pay!

 In the run up to Equal Pay Day on the 30th Oct, Fawcett Society have an open letter to John Hutton MP (in the UK), Sec state for business enterprise and regulatory reform. In it, there are recommendations for closing the 17% gender pay gap, such as regular checks to monitor for inequalities (which would presumably help address other inequalities too, such as those Jender writes of here).

You can sign the letter here!
More info on Fawcett’s campaign here.

Joint sessions and women in philosophy

I’ve just got back from the Joint Sessions in Aberdeen, which was much fun. There were plenty of interesting talks, and a good friendly atmosphere.

Some points of note:

1. there was a SWIP UK panel session of talks, which was well attended. The line up was: 

  • Marije Altorf, ‘After cursing the library …’ Women and philosophy: a case study; Dan O’Brien, A feminist interpretation of Hume on testimony;  Vera Tripodi, On the distinction between abstract and concrete objects; and Lina Papadaki Pornography: is there a connection between treating things as people and treating people as things?

This seemed to be a good forum for promoting work by and of interest to women in philosophy. For anyone who wants to find out more about SWIP UK, the website is here:



2. My impression was that there were lots of women in attendance, and giving papers. I did a quick  count of the sex distribtution across papers given.

In the plenary sessions, M:9, F:4

In the graduate sessions, M:3, F:5

In the open sessions, M:69, F:26

Total: M:80, F: 35.


As pointed out in comments (thanks gaye!) this is rather far off 50%.


However, that there was a visible presence of women philosophers, especially at the more prestigious and well attended sessions (plenary and graduate) seems important.

In her much cited and hugely important paper, Haslanger (linked here)notes that schemas (the model with which she understands unconscious bias (from Valian)) tend to be activated when the individuals are perceived to be in a minority group – tipping point being 25-30%.

So having such a visible presence of women in philosophy may be doing good work in dislodging the clash of woman schemas with philospher schemas. One hopes…


On a less positive note, whilst the conference drew a fairly international crowd, there were very few non-white philosophers there. And all the papers I saw (which, in fairness, was a small proportion, approx 20) were by white philosophers.


(updated from comments, to remedy my maths errors! thanks again!)