♀️ Females in philosophy

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theory
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♀️ Females in philosophy

Post by theory »

Image

I recently heard the following in a Partially Examined Life podcast, episode 130 Aristotle's "De Anima: What is life?" (origin of life).

The sad state of philosophy today is that 80% of our audience is male and at least as many people that contact us as potential guests, are male.

I then found that there is a Wikipedia article dedicated to the subject:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_philosophy

--

"While there have been women philosophers since the earliest times, and a few were accepted as philosophers during their lives, almost no woman philosophers have entered the philosophical Western canon. Only in the past 25 years there has been a small change with the emergence of feminist philosophy.

Historians of philosophy are faced with two main problems. The first being the exclusion of women philosophers from history and philosophy texts, which leads to a lack of knowledge about women philosophers among philosophy students. The second problem deals with what the canonical philosophers had to say about women and women's place.
"

--

As it appears, women have been structurally excluded from philosophy, both from within and from the outside (history).

The International Association of Women Philosophers
Given the ridiculous and unacceptable underrepresentation of women in philosophy, the existence of a professional organization of women philosophers requires no explanation.
http://www.women-philosophy.org/

History of Women Philosophers and Scientists
https://historyofwomenphilosophers.org/

APA Committee on the Status of Women in Philosophy
https://www.apaonlinecsw.org/

Women's place

Women have been thought throughout history that their place is not in philosophy, but elsewhere.

Any female that would enter the study of philosophy would face that long history of structural exclusion, by major philosophers to potentially be inspired and motivated by, only to contribute something new in very modern history, which explains that most women philosophers today contribute to feminist philosophy, which reduces their impact.

A search for women in philosophy pictures results in the following as the first result on some websites, such as istockphoto.com:

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As it appears, the lack of women in philosophy may have resulted in serious problems with intellectual evolution of human kind.

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Questions:

1) why is it important that women contribute to philosophy?
2) would it be important that women contribute equally? If so/not, why?
3) are there initiatives or organizations that intend to motivate younger female students to choose philosophy?
4) are male philosophers benefiting from a situation of less female competition? If so, why?
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Sculptor
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Re: ♀️ Females in philosophy

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theory wrote: Sat Sep 25, 2021 4:44 pm
Questions:

1) why is it important that women contribute to philosophy?
2) would it be important that women contribute equally? If so/not, why?
3) are there initiatives or organizations that intend to motivate younger female students to choose philosophy?
4) are male philosophers benefiting from a situation of less female competition? If so, why?
1) It is important that many types of people contribute.
2) Arbitrary quotas just mean poor results. There should be no merit in philosophy for the posessing of a penis, and there should not be one for the posssession of a vagina.
3) I would imagine so. Such is the world we live in.
4) No, I think that all male phil depts are common and though they may be encouraged to hire women, they may be reluctant to do so.
Last edited by Sculptor on Wed Oct 27, 2021 4:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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vegetariantaxidermy
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Re: ♀️ Females in philosophy

Post by vegetariantaxidermy »

'Quota' systems are obnoxious and patronising. If women aren't interested then they aren't interested. So what?
theory
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Re: ♀️ Females in philosophy

Post by theory »

vegetariantaxidermy wrote: Sat Sep 25, 2021 7:54 pm 'Quota' systems are obnoxious and patronising. If women aren't interested then they aren't interested. So what?
When structural discouragement is embedded in philosophy's history, women may avoid philosophy for the purpose of self-protection, perhaps because they want to prevent being obligated to adapt a feminist warrior mindset and become en-strangled in politics.

Young students may require guidance and a choice between a field that expresses big warning signs "STAY AWAY FEMALES!" upon entry, and "welcome with open arms" (we need you!) by other fields, may cause female students without a political / feminist mindset to avoid philosophy.

With regard why it would matter.

Women may have key strengths that can be of vital importance for the future of humanity, which may require philosophy to unlock that potential.

For example, women are considered to be better at morality and ethical thinking. Women may have a unique connection with emotions, social reasoning and other factors that can unlock high value (potentially vital) insights.

Are Women More Ethical Than Men?
New research explores how women’s voices can benefit business and society.
https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/articl ... l_than_men

Philosophy also has many new fields in which women may perform well, for example animal ethics.

(2019) Animal Ethics: an important emerging topic for society
https://cosmosmagazine.com/society/anim ... and-ethics
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Lacewing
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Re: ♀️ Females in philosophy

Post by Lacewing »

theory wrote: Sat Sep 25, 2021 4:44 pm the lack of women in philosophy may have resulted in serious problems with intellectual evolution of human kind.
I agree. Females may offer valuable perspectives that males may not be as inclined to see. The fact that gods and sages are typically identified as 'male', shows how out-of-balance we are, and demonstrates a major skewing by males for control and domination.
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vegetariantaxidermy
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Re: ♀️ Females in philosophy

Post by vegetariantaxidermy »

theory wrote: Sat Sep 25, 2021 9:39 pm
vegetariantaxidermy wrote: Sat Sep 25, 2021 7:54 pm 'Quota' systems are obnoxious and patronising. If women aren't interested then they aren't interested. So what?
When structural discouragement is embedded in philosophy's history, women may avoid philosophy for the purpose of self-protection, perhaps because they want to prevent being obligated to adapt a feminist warrior mindset and become en-strangled in politics.

Young students may require guidance and a choice between a field that expresses big warning signs "STAY AWAY FEMALES!" upon entry, and "welcome with open arms" (we need you!) by other fields, may cause female students without a political / feminist mindset to avoid philosophy.

With regard why it would matter.

Women may have key strengths that can be of vital importance for the future of humanity, which may require philosophy to unlock that potential.

For example, women are considered to be better at morality and ethical thinking. Women may have a unique connection with emotions, social reasoning and other factors that can unlock high value (potentially vital) insights.

Are Women More Ethical Than Men?
New research explores how women’s voices can benefit business and society.
https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/articl ... l_than_men

Philosophy also has many new fields in which women may perform well, for example animal ethics.

(2019) Animal Ethics: an important emerging topic for society
https://cosmosmagazine.com/society/anim ... and-ethics
Then that makes women idiots does it not? More concerned with pleasing men then anything else. The rest is bollocks.
RickLewis
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Re: ♀️ Females in philosophy

Post by RickLewis »

Theory, I attended a philosophy postgrad conference in Reading, UK, about a decade ago, to take part in a panel discussion. One of the other sessions was a presentation by Dr Marianne Janack (I think) and a colleague on why there are so few women in academic philosophy departments, and indeed in philosophy in general. A lot of actual research had clearly gone into the paper. I don't have a copy of it but maybe it is obtainable from Dr Janack?

From memory, the paper said that there are a LOT of women undergraduates studying philosophy - maybe even a majority of all philosophy undergraduates. Sadly the proportion of women is steadily whittled down as they climb the academic hierarchy. There aren't quite so many female philosophy postgrads. There are an even smaller proportion of junior lecturers in philosophy, and by the time you get to professors, the proportion is very small. (Sorry I can't recall any actual numbers). This steady shift in the gender balance with academic seniority is more like that found in science subjects such as physics and chemistry rather than in other humanities subjects, where the proportion of female academics remains high at all levels. The paper examined various proposed explanations. There is the possibility that a greater proportion of women than of men drop out when they have children. There is also the more psychological explanation that when members of group A are a tiny proportion within any activity B, then new group A people joining that activity tend to feel that they "don't belong", that it isn't really for them, and have more inhibitions about pushing themselves forwards. I don't know. So structural discouragement rather the the structural exclusion you describe - though no doubt that exists too.

In terms of Philosophy Now magazine, for what it is worth, the proportion of our subscribers who are women is hard to gauge accurately but is definitely much higher than 20%. I'd say it is more like 35 or 40%. However, looking at the "letters to the editors" we receive, the proportion is much smaller - probably only about 10%. My own theory is that men are just more anxious to assert themselves in any forum. Certainly the "letters to the editor" we receive from women tend on average to be better than the "letters to the editor" we receive from men, which might suggest that women write only when they have something good to say. (No disrespect to the many excellent letters we publish which are from male readers, but they are the cream of the crop and many others aren't published due to lack of space.) Most full-length articles we receive (probably about 80%) are by men. Some of the very best articles we've published in the last 30 years have however been by women.

Rick Lewis
(Editor-in-Chief, Philosophy Now)


p.s Your list of women in philosophy links looks useful. Can I add, the Society for Women in Philosophy? (SWiP) They have several websites in different parts of the world, eg http://www.swip-ireland.com , https://www.swipuk.org and http://cswip.ca
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Re: ♀️ Females in philosophy

Post by RickLewis »

Another ps. Theory, I completely agree with you about why it matters that women are somehow discouraged from engaging with philosophy in the same numbers as men. I don't know why women tend to specialise in (and be highly influential in) moral philosophy compared with other areas of philosophy. Is the explanation again something social or to do with philosophy's institutional structure, or with the way women are brought up to see themselves as nurturing and caring ? I don't know.
terryreynolds
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Re: ♀️ Females in philosophy

Post by terryreynolds »

I agree with this. Women can offer valuable points of view that men may not see. And there are also issues women can have a deeper look at.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: ♀️ Females in philosophy

Post by Immanuel Can »

Questions:

1) why is it important that women contribute to philosophy?
2) would it be important that women contribute equally? If so/not, why?
3) are there initiatives or organizations that intend to motivate younger female students to choose philosophy?
4) are male philosophers benefiting from a situation of less female competition? If so, why?
I don't know if we have reason to assume that there's some sort of discrimination issue going on here. There are at least two reasons why more men go into bricklaying than women do, and more women go into nursing than men do. One might be that these are socially-defined careers; another would be self-selection: maybe women don't WANT to be bricklayers, and maybe men don't WANT to be nurses, on the whole. (Of course, there will be particular exceptions on both sides: and I know of no particular institutional or social barriers to those exceptions, when they occur.) So if women can be bricklayers, and the proportions are still 98% male, then are we to panic?

Do most women want to be philosophers, we should ask. And we should ask it before jumping to the conclusion that we need to find ways to force some sort of "equality." For "equality" is good when people want to be "equal": but it's tyrannical to obligate people to join professions and activities they tell you they don't want to join. I don't think any of us is disposed to force women to do something IF they decide they don't want to do it, right?

Before, therefore, we assume that equal distribution of males and females is the ideal in every area of life, and mandate quotas for bricklayers and nurses, or invent all sorts of elaborate programs to woo women into bricklaying and men into nursing, why don't we see what people are freely choosing to do?

Right now, women are dominant in the universities. They are, on the average campus, at least 60% of the population there. There is probably no more female-friendly atmosphere available to them at present, at least insofar as the institution itself is arranged. Every university has very strident "Women's Studies" faculties, and the vast majority of professors are political Leftists with strong inclinations toward "women's liberation" causes and Feminism. The pill eliminates things like early pregancy, which formerly might have caused women to be sidetracked early, and a woman can expect nothing but financial gain and social praise if she puts off childbearing and sets herself a career instead. If, at any time in history, women have had a straight path into all the Humanities, including Philosophy, it's now.

So the question becomes, "Why are many women still often choosing not to take the philosophy path?" And another quickly follows: "If that's what they're doing, is it something we ought to fight or accept?"
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RCSaunders
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Re: ♀️ Females in philosophy

Post by RCSaunders »

theory wrote: Sat Sep 25, 2021 4:44 pm The sad state of philosophy today is that 80% of our audience is male and at least as many people that contact us as potential guests, are male.
Everyone has different inherent abilities, interests, and talents. Philosophy, as a discipline, does not appeal to very many. The reason why there are fewer women interested in philosophy is simply because those with kinds of intellects that might be interested in it, unlike men, are not easily deceived into being drawn into the quagmire of philosophical nonsense that plagues that totally failed field.

To put it plainly, women are too perceptive to be taken in by what so easily deceives men.
Walker
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Re: ♀️ Females in philosophy

Post by Walker »

vegetariantaxidermy wrote: Sat Sep 25, 2021 9:59 pm
Then that makes women idiots does it not? More concerned with pleasing men then anything else. The rest is bollocks.
One of the feminine limitations when approaching philosophy, which is not restricted to women, is a tendency towards the personal (gossip) rather than moving towards a principle (broad view, no pun intended.)

That makes idiocy a judgement call rather than clinical speculation.

Woody Allen said the only reason to write is revenge, but philosophy should be at least one step above all that, shouldn't it?
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RCSaunders
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Re: ♀️ Females in philosophy

Post by RCSaunders »

theory wrote: Sat Sep 25, 2021 9:39 pm Philosophy also has many new fields in which women may perform well, for example animal ethics.
Well, that's a good example of all that's wrong with philosophy. I asked my kitty what she thought of animal ethics. She just gave me that, "what, another stupid philsopher," look.

What's next, "tree ethics?"

Good grief!
Walker
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Re: ♀️ Females in philosophy

Post by Walker »

RCSaunders wrote: Wed Sep 29, 2021 6:22 pm
What's next, "tree ethics?"
Since the substance of a tree comes from air and not earth, which just amazes me, why not?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifk6iuLQk28
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vegetariantaxidermy
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Re: ♀️ Females in philosophy

Post by vegetariantaxidermy »

RCSaunders wrote: Wed Sep 29, 2021 6:22 pm
theory wrote: Sat Sep 25, 2021 9:39 pm Philosophy also has many new fields in which women may perform well, for example animal ethics.
Well, that's a good example of all that's wrong with philosophy. I asked my kitty what she thought of animal ethics. She just gave me that, "what, another stupid philsopher," look.

What's next, "tree ethics?"

Good grief!
Scoffing only makes the scoffer look like an idiot. What is your problem with the rest of the animal kingdom? You seem to have this bizarre idea that only humans have evolved intelligence, self-awarness and emotions. Are you a 'bubble boy'?
I've always instintively felt that trees have an awareness and intelligence but couldn't work out how that could be, since they don't have an obvious brain. As it turns out they communicate with each other via a complex system of roots and mycelium, what scienties call mycorrhizal networks --similar to the internet. They nurture each other, warn each of danger, and even have a 'mother tree', the biggest, oldest tree in the forest.
I realise it's a lot more 'comfortable' for humans to kid themselves that the rest of the living kingdom has no awareness or emotions, but only a complete moron could seriously believe this to be the case with what we now know, and even before we knew much about it, using our own observational skills.
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