Women in Philosophy

This post isn’t really about what to do, but rather who is doing it…

27% of Philosophy Ph.D.s are awarded to women.
18% of faculty at top philosophy programs are women.

Compare that to 41% of humanities faculty being women at those same institutions —

Granted, part of that is the simple fact that women are significantly underrepresented in grad school — but, that’s part of the problem and not one of the explanations of the statistics above.

Grad school admissions are different than undergraduate admissions.  Generally, getting admitted to grad school is more like getting a job than being admitted to a program.  That’s because grad school spots usually come with “funding”, they pay you a very small salary and you don’t pay tuition.  So, getting one of these spots is competitive and subjective.  Philosophers tend to admit folks like themselves, or folks who are recommended by folks like themselves.

The catch is, “themselves” are generally white dudes. So, the white dudes at the undergraduate level form bonds with students like themselves, write glowing recommendations to their pals on graduate committees and the cycle perpetuates.

I started grad school in the 90s (yea, forever ago) — when I started, and for the whole time I took graduate philosophy classes, there was not ONE female graduate faculty member.  There were very few female grad students and I only know of one other who finished her degree…

That’s horrific — and I know some of the reasons why it happened.

For example, when I started grad school my first meeting was with the graduate advisor.  He asked me if I was married and then if my husband realized that I may not be home to cook dinner?  Seriously… I’m not making that shit up — After that meeting he rarely answered e-mails and never kept another appointment with me. 

2 Responses

  1. I’m not surprised at all to learn that nepotism still thrives in the Ivory Towers of Academia. I never saw more than a handful of women professors in English, Political Science, History, Communications, Science or Math.

  2. We have plenty of women in my discipline, but we’re fighting what you’re protesting here. Keep up the good fight.

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