Women in Philosophy

This report on women in philosophy (in the UK) seems well worth reading and discussing.  Will get to it ... soon!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This report's methodology is very poor. It treats the existence of a demographic imbalance as evidence of widespread discrimination. It doesn't establish the degree of influence that implicit bias or stereotype threat have over decisions to admit women in philosophy -- which is important, as it could be that those account for as much as a 10% shift or as low as a 0.1% shift.

Several paragraphs in the study are trivial if not irrelevant. The paragraph on page 13 about "stereotypically male behaviour" doesn't demonstrate a barrier to women in philosophy so much as it outlines a behavior typical of a profession and characterizes that as male, then in the following "the point here is not..." paragraph suggests, via "can heighten women’s feeling that they do not belong," that this is significant enough to warrant attention. Many things can heighten feelings that one does not belong -- this does not belong in a study attempting to prove beyond a doubt that bias is preventing women from entering philosophy.

One of the principal justifications for many of the actions here, that "doing this will help to break down the stereotype that philosophy is male", is poorly reasoned because it doesn't establish how much stereotypes contribute to women or men entering philosophy. Moreover, the artificial and unmeritocratic introduction of women into philosophy programs may actually reinforce stereotypes by giving the impression that they need to be coddled or given treatment typical of someone with a handicap. Finally, and most obviously, if someone who has completed an entire Bachelor's worth of philosophy has decided to not enter graduate-level philosophy because they think of it in terms of a gender and not in terms of the pursuit of truth, they probably aren't a good fit for philosophy to begin with.