Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

“This isn’t even a slap on the wrist” October 10, 2015

What happens if someone is found responsible for multiple violations of a university’s harassment policies after multiple individuals allege they have “repeatedly engaged in inappropriate physical behavior with students, including unwanted massages, kisses, and groping”? In one case, it turns out, basically nothing. Geoff Marcy, an astronomer at University of California Berkeley, was found to have violated Berkeley’s policies, and according to BuzzFeed: “As a result of the findings, the women were informed, Marcy has been given ‘clear expectations concerning his future interactions with students,’ which he must follow or risk ‘sanctions that could include suspension or dismissal.'”

David Charbonneau, a professor of astronomy at Harvard University, said the matter has broad implications.

“Geoff Marcy is undeniably the most prominent exoplanet researcher in the U.S.,” he said, referring to the study of planets beyond our solar system. “The stakes here couldn’t be higher. We are working so hard to have gender parity in this field, and when the most prominent person is a routine harasser, it threatens a major objective nationally.”

. . .“After all of this effort and trying to go through the proper channels, Berkeley has ultimately come up with no response,” said Joan Schmelz, who until recently led the American Astronomical Society’s Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy. (Schmelz was not a complainant in Berkeley’s investigation.) “I’ve seen sexual harassers get slaps on the wrist before. This isn’t even a slap on the wrist.”


New Study: Gender Effect in Research Funding September 22, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennysaul @ 8:28 am
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We examined the application and review materials of three calls (n = 2,823) of a prestigious grant for personal research funding in a na- tional full population of early career scientists awarded by the Nether- lands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). Results showed evidence of gender bias in application evaluations and success rates, as well as in language use in instructions and evaluation sheets. Male applicants received significantly more competitive “quality of re- searcher” evaluations (but not “quality of proposal” evaluations) and had significantly higher application success rates than female ap- plicants. Gender disparities were most prevalent in scientific disciplines with the highest number of applications and with equal gender dis- tribution among the applicants (i.e., life sciences and social sciences). Moreover, content analyses of the instructional and evaluation mate- rials revealed the use of gendered language favoring male applicants. Overall, our data reveal a 4% “loss” of women during the grant re- view procedure, and illustrate the perpetuation of the funding gap, which contributes to the underrepresentation of women in academia.


Reader Query: “The Science of Sex Appeal” February 6, 2015

A reader writes:

Has anyone seen the documentary “The Science of Sex Appeal,” and if so, could you please recommend academic sources that counter the claims made by this video?” While Cordelia Fine’s book is great for arguing against this evolutionary psychology bullshit more generally (sorry; maybe it isn’t all bullshit, but THIS stuff is), I’d really like to be able to point to specific claims made in the video and offer specific, scientifically supported claims to the contrary. I haven’t found anything through database searches.

UPDATE: This post has been a nightmare to moderate.  Do to many requests, I tried to confine comments to ones that really address the reader’s query, rather than dealing in big generalisations about whether feminists hate evolutionary psychology, etc. I’m now closing comments.


FURTHER UPDATE: This is being briefly re-opened.


Sexism at Science Journal Nature November 27, 2012

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?”

Thanks JI!


Lost women of science November 21, 2010

A fascinating article:

Yet my re-examination of the Royal Society archives during this 350th birthday year has thrown new and unexpected light on the lost women of science. I have tracked down a series of letters, documents and rare publications that begin to fit together to suggest a very different network of support and understanding between the sexes. It emerges that women had a far more fruitful, if sometimes conflicted, relationship with the Royal Society than has previously been supposed.

I was a little worried when I read the following– afraid the author would go on to say that women had special insights because of their relational thinking, or care, or something like that:

Indeed, the Royal Society archives suggest something so fundamental that it may require a subtle revision of the standard history of science in Britain. This is the previously unsuspected degree to which women were a catalyst in the early discussion of the social role of science. More even than their male colleagues, they had a gift for imagining the human impact of scientific discovery, both exploring and questioning it.

But then he linked it instead to their exclusion from the Royal Society– a very interesting example for standpoint theorists:

Precisely by being excluded from the fellowship of the society, they saw the life of science in a wider world. They raised questions about its duties and its moral responsibilities, its promise and its menace, in ways we can appreciate far more fully today.


Abortion and Teenage Depression? September 26, 2010

The first can cause the second, right?  Not exactly; in fact, that looks wrong:

 A press release for the study, which is published in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, explains, “The researchers found that young women in the study who had an abortion were no more likely to become depressed or have low self-esteem within the first year of pregnancy — or five years later — than their peers who were pregnant, but did not have an abortion.” The data was pulled from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which surveyed 289 girls between the ages of 13 and 18.

The possibility of psychological harm has been appealed to in arguments for parental notification and pre-abortion warnings.  But now it looks as though the harm may well not be there.

 The truth, according to science, is that “on average, abortion does not appear to have major psychological consequences — for adult women or for teens,” says [lead author Jocelyn] Warren. Marie Harvey, a public health professor at Oregon State University, which conducted the research with the University of California, San Francisco, said: “We have policies being made that are not evidence-based, and that have adverse consequences for women’s health.”

Gosh!  Not evidence-based?!?  Who would have guessed?  It makes it sound as though maybe there’s another agenda being acted on.


Professor Sarah B. Hrdy September 24, 2010

We’ve mentioned Profession Hrdy a few times on the blog – I know JJ has quoted her in some posts. But I’m just rereading Mother Nature in preparation for a class I’m teaching on evolutionary psychology, and I just thought I’d recommend it most highly to anyone who’s interested in biology and gender. Professor Hrdy is an anthropologist and primatologist who has made several major contributions in evolutionary psychology and sociobiology. A common theme in her work is the behaviour of female primates, particularly mothers. Her personal webpage can be accessed here. There is also a Wikipedia entry.


Guess what? July 25, 2008

Filed under: gender,science,sex — Jender @ 1:01 pm
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Girls don’t suck at maths. See also here. (How many times does this need to be shown?) Prediction: if this comes to widely accepted, expect lots more stories about how girls are innately predisposed not to like doing stuff that involves maths– gotta explain the dearth of women in science and maths in such a way that nobody has to worry about it. (Thanks BTPS and Jender-Parents!)


On the necessity of ingesting semen July 4, 2008

Filed under: medicine,science,sex — Jender @ 12:08 pm
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Marie Stopes was a leading British campaigner for family planning, and Marie Stopes clinics are a major provider of family planning services in the UK. Like many early advocates of family planning, Stopes held some appalling eugenicist views, even disowning her son for marrying a near-sighted woman and breeding inferior stock. That’s well-known. What’s less well-known is her view on the ingestion of semen. Crucial for a woman’s sexual health apparently. A woman who doesn’t get enough semen into her body from her male partner is at risk– her sex drive will run wild, and she may even turn to the vices of lesbianism or masturbation.

Can anything be done? Of course, self-stimulus, or masturbation, is extremely common… Masturbation is always unsatisfactory… Another practical solution which some deprived women find is in Lesbian love with their own sex…

But these will never satisfy:

…homosexual excitement does not really meet their need for the physiological fact (I have never yet seen it clearly stated anywhere, but it is of the greatest importance in a consideration of this problem) is that… a woman’s need and hunger for nourishment in sex union is a true physiological hunger to be satisfied by the supplying of the actual molecular substances lacked by her system… the chemical molecules produced by the glandular systems of the male.


It has been found possible to prepare some at least of the very molecular compounds really nourishing to the woman’s system, and which she lacks and requires.

That’s right ladies– artificial semen for you, in capsule form! And she even gives a recipe (though sadly it’s not made from ordinary household ingredients).

(Many thanks Stella, for passing on this wisdom! Quotes are from Enduring Passion, 29-32.)


Maybe there are some nuggets of wisdom June 23, 2008

Filed under: gender,science — Jender @ 8:18 am
Tags: ,

in this article arguing that women just don’t want to do engineering and so-called “hard science”. But somehow I doubt it when the evidence draws on the “fact” that philosophy has tons of women in it, and when the list of the 5 countries offering women the most financial security and the most family-friendly policies includes the US (nothing says “family friendly” and “financially secure” like a lack of guaranteed health coverage, maternity leave, and childcare). Wow, that’s some nifty science for ya. And some spectacular journalistic fact-checking. (Thanks, Heg!)



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