9 Comments

  1. Posted August 25, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    If you’re a woman, person-of color, queer, or any other under-represented category of philosophy student, stick with it.

    Thank you for this piece! My undergraduate degree is in philosophy and women’s & gender studies. Like you, I found the intersections of theory within these two disciplines to be invaluable to my philosophical path in school. Equally important, though, was the fact that I was lucky enough to be part of a philosophy department that (at least when I graduated) was composed primarily of women (all of whom are beyond stellar at what they do, if I might add). I was given the opportunity to conduct student-faculty research, present papers and receive mentorship in a department that was absolutely supportive of myself and my abilities. Specifically, the mentorship and support I received from the female faculty in the department remains one of the brightest spots of my academic (and even post-academic) career. And while the male to female ratio among students majoring was still skewed, I found myself equally supported and respected by my male peers – an environment which I believe the structure of the department went a long way toward creating. Like you said, I could go on and on about why I loved studying philosophy – and the circumstances that made that possible. I hope that others stick with it, too. And (cause I can’t resist giving a little plug!) if anyone is interested in finding a program that will be supportive, check out: http://www.plu.edu/philosophy/

    • Posted August 25, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      And I’m gonna put a plug in for studying philosophy at women’s colleges (I went to Mount Holyoke!).

  2. Posted August 25, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Lovely post. Thanks for the attention to the “What is It Like to Be a Woman in Philosophy” blog! That site is a mine of compelling testimony. If readers feel overwhelmed by the badness of the stories and the experiences there, then I just want to call readers’ attention to the fact that it has a companion blog, “What We’re Doing About What It’s Like,” where people have posted constructive responses. So don’t give up. Don’t give up.

    • Posted August 25, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Yes, don’t give up.

      I also linked to the Feminist Philosophers site, but thanks for the link to the other one!

  3. Posted August 25, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    It’s also worth considering studying philosophy in places other than philosophy departments, if you have interest in feminist or race theory. Many political science departments and comp lit departments allow you to do this kind of work in a way that most philosophy departments won’t. For example, feminism is a much more mainstream topic in political theory than it is in philosophy. In a way, it’s disappointing that philosophy has become a narrow discipline. But it’s also the case that one can do philosophy in many different sorts of departments. So if you like studying these sorts of questions, don’t limit your scope to philosophy departments. Look around.

  4. Posted August 25, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    I’m not in philosophy (though my mother is) — I’m in applied mathematics. That’s hard, too. So sometimes it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who struggles, and that I’m not insane for thinking it is a struggle, and that there are people out there who think this is worth sticking with, regardless. So I was really heartened by this post. Thanks.

  5. Posted August 25, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Although it is great if you can be a pioneer as an underrepresented x person in y field, graduate school in the humanities may not be the best venue for this; while there, students are paid a small stipend for teaching, etc., and have few real job prospects when/if they get out. That is, it is not an easy life for the spirit or the body.

    I am sure the figures of full professor across the disciplines will lean towards white men because they are largely from a time when there were less women and minorities attending higher education period. In addition, many professors stop at associate professor because they attain a similar amount of stability and freedom.

  6. Posted August 26, 2011 at 4:41 am | Permalink

    I started doing a philosophy course with the UK’s open university. Normally the OU is good with things like identity. The other students included a large number of mansplainers; part of the course material had a section on how men and women were fundamentally different – as a transsexual woman I felt that was unsympathetic, and gender essentialist. It was like going back in time 100 years. Have you even heard of Judith Butler? No?
    It also seemed to include a lot of simple minded solipsism. So after a few weeks I abandoned it and I’m now doing a course in International Politics. Which I think will suit me a lot better.

  7. Posted August 26, 2011 at 4:45 am | Permalink

    Still can’t believe these figures… why less women? Diversity is the key for sure. I live in London which is incredibly diverse and notice the difference when I go to other towns in the UK…

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