Females in philosophy

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psyreporter
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Females in philosophy

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female-philosopher.jpg
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I just 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.

Questions:

1) Is philosophy primarily a masculine study?
2) Are there many female users on this forum?
3) What are the male-female statistics with regard noteworthy philosophers in history?
4) What can explain a disparity?
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Re: Females in philosophy

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There is a Wikipedia article dedicated to the subject:

This article is about the state of the discipline.
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 philosophy and women's place in it.
"

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/

Additional 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) what subjects of philosophy have the most women participants? Is there a correlation visible, e.g. most women choosing subjects such as animal ethics? If so, are females excluded from specific area's of philosophy?
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LuckyR
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Re: Females in philosophy

Post by LuckyR »

Excellent observation. The fact that women have been historically excluded from the men's club that formal Philosophy was and is, is not a surprise. Add to it, the fact that modern female philosophers self segregate into "feminist philosophy" (as opposed to general philosophy), lowers their numbers even further.
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Re: Females in philosophy

Post by Steve3007 »

Continuing Lucky's point: Historically, and still now in some societies, women have been largely excluded from various men's clubs, including philosophy, the sciences and literature. That exclusion could take various forms from arranging society such that the woman's role is to support the man by making his meals and cleaning his house to claiming the works created by the woman as his own. Obviously the most extreme and well publicized example of this phenomenon in the modern world is in Afghanistan. In that country we saw the gradual emergence of such things as woman engineering lecturers in colleges and woman judges. Then the Taliban came back and the choice for them was "go back into your house and concentrate on making the dinner and babies or be hunted down and killed". It's really only relatively recently that we've emerged from similar kinds of attitudes ourselves.
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Re: Females in philosophy

Post by JackDaydream »

@psychreporter

I was talking to one of my female friends about how there seemed to be so few females posting on the philosophy forums which I use and she replied, 'Women have got better things to do with their time than write on forums.' This lead me to wonder if many women relate to philosophy in a different way because I know that females think about philosophical aspects of existence. It may be that many do not put it into a box called 'philosophy', but just see it as an aspect of life, and in as less formal way.

However, I think that a lot of women do study philosophy, so it may be that women find it hard to be accepted in male dominated academic circles. But, when I was a studying Social Ethics there was one senior female tutor, but she was extremely attractive and I wondered if this played a big role in her popularity and success. The tutor was extremely clever and has gone on to be a recognized professor, but I wonder if she would have done so well if she had been ugly and fat rather than slim, with blonde hair and a rich, mesmerising voice.
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Re: Females in philosophy

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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:

woman-in-philosophy-impossible.png

Are there initiatives or organizations that intend to motivate younger female students to choose philosophy?

Are male philosophers benefiting from a situation of less female competition? If so, why?

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

Image
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Re: Females in philosophy

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There is a special committee dedicated to the subject by the American Philosophical Association (APA).

Women-in-philosophy-1.png

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

Mission: The Committee seeks to facilitate an understanding of issues of gender and of the range of positions represented in feminist theories and publishes the Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy.

Again a focus on feminism philosophy (politics), which may hinder females to pursue a career in philosophy.

People who choose philosophy with a warrior mindset to fight for an ideal (political motives) may be of a different type than would be required to perform in philosophy. They may more easily leave the field and choose a career in politics, because they simply would be able to have a bigger impact in politics.
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Re: Females in philosophy

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A quote on the subject by the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the magazine Philosophy Now on the forum of that magazine.
RickLewis wrote: Theory (@psyreporter), 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 https://www.swip-ireland.com , https://www.swipuk.org and http://cswip.ca

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.

Original: https://forum.philosophynow.org/viewtop ... 90#p528290

Latest issue:
Issue 147: The Happiness and Meaning issue
Issue 147: The Happiness and Meaning issue
Rick Lewis launched Philosophy Now in 1991, the first ever philosophy magazine worldwide. This new initiative facilitated a wave of popular philosophy activities in Great Britain, the United States, and elsewhere, which has since strengthened, and to the present owes much of its impetus to Lewis' work.
https://philosophynow.org/
https://philosophynow.org/issues/147/Ha ... nd_Meaning

About the founder of the magazine:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Lewis_(journalist)
https://philosophynow.academia.edu/RickLewis
The Panpsycast interview: https://thepanpsycast.com/panpsycast2/ricklewis1
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Re: Females in philosophy

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Lacewing wrote: 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.
Perhaps noteworthy for the topic is lady Justice, an allegorical personification of the moral force in judicial systems.

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

Image

The correlation between females and morality seems to exist since ancient history.

In ancient Egyptian religion, Ma’at is the Goddess of Truth, Wisdom, Justice and Morality. She represented leadership, philosophy and law.

https://www.ancient-origins.net/history ... ity-003131
https://www.ancient-egypt-online.com/maat.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maat

A place to start with regard pioneering morality - with a trillion USD synthetic biology revolution (GMO or 'Eugenics on Nature') that intends to become 'the biggest thing in science in this century' at stake - may be plant morality.

Philosophy professor Michael Marder on plant morality:

Philosopher: Plants are sentient beings that should be eaten with respect
His claim that a plant is a sentient “intelligent, social, complex being” has been contested by some biologists, but a stronger reaction has come from animal-rights activists and vegans who fear their cause is undermined by extending a duty of respect to plants.
https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/unth ... -1.1965980

Plant-Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/167 ... t-thinking

The Philosopher's Plant: An Intellectual Herbarium
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/223 ... er-s-plant
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