What Quebec is doing about what it’s like

September 15, 2016 § Leave a comment

I’m a PhD student and lecturer at the philosophy department at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). Representation is a big concern in our department, as currently only 2 out of 17 faculty members are women. A few years ago when our department invited only men as guest lecturers and keynote speakers, some other grad students and I got together to creat Fillosophie (https://fillosophie.org/about/fillosophie-in-english/), a project to foster the work of women philosophers through a series of conferences dedicated to presentations only by philosophers who are women. Our goal is mainly to give undergrads role models and to show that women can actually continue to study and work and do research in philosophy ─ at all levels.
More recently (about a year ago), our department has also created a committee for issues concerning equity and climate. One of the ideas the committee developed for promoting the role of women in philosophy was to encourage professors to include more women authors in their syllabi. Some professors complained that there were not enough resources in French (and teaching at UQAM at the undergraduate level is exclusively in French), and that this would be rather difficult. Two members of Fillosophie (myself and Sarah Arnaud), who are also part of the commitee for equity and climate, have since then put together a list of over 300 resources in French (or translated to French) that professors and lecturers can use, especially in intro classes. I’m sharing this as it may be useful for other people teaching at French-speaking universities around the world.( http://philo.uqam.ca/fr/equite-climat/listes-d-auteures-feminines.html ) Hope this is helpful!

Miami: The Reconstruction

May 16, 2016 § Leave a comment

Otavio Bueno and Amie Thomasson write:

It’s not easy to be a department ‘in the news’, but it can lead to tangible improvements.

Thanks to wonderful advice from the APA Committee on the Status of Women and from external reviewers of our graduate program, and the support of our dean, chair and faculty, we here at the University of Miami have been able to put into place a number of changes to make us a better department. Here are some of the things we have done in the past two years:

  • Made three hires, two of whom are women, thereby tripling the number of (active) women faculty
  • To try to reduce the affects of implicit bias, we ran our most recent search in a partly anonymized way. That is, we started by reading anonymized writing samples, and evaluating those to get an initial list of candidates to look at more seriously, and reserved our comments and impressions from that initial phase for later consideration. This was a pretty time-consuming activity, as we had over 600 applicants! (Obviously this would be an easier procedure to follow if for those running a search in a particular area, rather than open/open.) We managed it by dividing into teams to look at the writing samples, and it turned out to be a very nice exercise in trying to get direct judgments of philosophical merit, without worry about various kinds of bias slipping in—the closest equivalent to the musician’s curtained auditions. We got a nice list out of it, of people who impressed us at the interview phase.
  • Conducted a climate survey of all graduate students twice (over four years) to assess our needs and progress. We are pleased to report that these gave us other great ideas for improving the department, and that the scores on the climate survey improved markedly in almost every category from the first to the second survey.
  • Hosted the first annual Inclusiveness Conference over two days in April, with speakers Jenny Saul, Shannon Dea, and Mary Anne Franks, to discuss issues of implicit bias, stereotype threat, inclusive pedagogy, and online bullying and discrimination. It was a full room with lively and helpful discussions, and closed with small group work to brainstorm more ways to improve our department and make it more inclusive.
  • Shifted colloquium times earlier, to ensure that those who need to pick up children from school or childcare can still attend without difficulty.
  • Instituted popular departmental ‘workshops’, to increase the informal philosophical interactions among faculty and graduate students
  • Instituted a ‘family friendly’ space in a conference room, where parents of young children can breastfeed, entertain children with a box of books and toys, have a space for children around the office.

Here’s to change! And we will continue to be looking for ways to keep improving, and making the department a more inclusive and friendly place. Stay tuned for information on our Second Annual Inclusiveness Conference!

What Brown is Doing about What it’s Like

February 14, 2016 § Leave a comment

The Summer Immersion Program in Philosophy at Brown is now accepting applications for the 2016 summer session.

SIPP@Brown is a two-week undergraduate program for members of groups that are underrepresented in philosophy departments, including women and students of color.

The 2016 program will run from July 17 to July 30 and will feature seminars taught by Brown faculty and the SIPP@Brown research conference. Each student will receive free lodging on Brown’s campus, a $500 stipend, and reimbursement of up to $500 of travel expenses.

Application materials are available at http://www.sippatbrown.com. The application deadline is March 15.

Questions about SIPP@Brown or about the application process should be sent to sipp@brown.edu.

Making a Radical Philosophy Programme

April 27, 2015 § Leave a comment

Beth Matthews writes:

In 2013 I was reading a book titled “Women in philosophy, what needs to change”, edited by Dr Katrina Hutchinson and Dr Fiona Jenkins and it really encouraged me to do something in a practical sense to raise the profile of women philosophers. At that time I was a volunteer co-host on a breakfast show on 3CR community radio, I not only enjoyed the broadcasting and panelling immensely, but also editing interviews as well. So I decided to put forth my proposal to do a solo radio program, ”Radical Philosophy”. As part of my proposal I stated that women in philosophy would be given preference to be interviewed on my program, because women in philosophy do not have as strong a voice as men in philosophy. In fact, I did a small survey myself to prove my point: I asked 10 people if they could name a philosopher and they could, but when I asked them to name a woman philosopher, none of them could, so I submitted this data with my program proposal. Included with my proposal was an interview that I conducted with Dr Fiona Jenkins on the subject of women in philosophy, and what needs to change. I discussed various concepts with Dr Jenkins connected to the under representation of women in philosophy such as stereotype threat, unconscious bias and micro inequities. Also the concept of how it is just assumed that women have to change to fit into the existing philosophical institutions. This combined with a program planner for the first month which included interviews on happiness, existentialism and who was the first woman philosopher? My program proposal was approved.

Over the last six months I have unearthed an incredible amount of talent in the topics I have sought interviews for: these topics have ranged from logic and reason, two-dimensional semantics and personal identity. I have also thought outside the standard philosophical box and have aired interviews about the philosophy of female football fans, feminist geography, the sexualisation of young girls and feminist bioethics; I think that these topics are of great philosophical importance. In fact, for every topic that I have wanted to cover in my program, I have been able to find an Australian woman philosopher to interview who has the required amount of expertise in the given research area. Often philosophers have many interests and areas of expertise, so it can be quite difficult in choosing one topic for an interview. I begin each program with a quote from an insightful woman such as Emma Goldman, Helen Keller and Iris Murdoch. The quotes are from “The Beacon Book of Quotations by Women”. The quotes appear under headings ranging from ‘absence’ to ‘youth’ so I have a quote to suit every interview I do.
I have studied philosophy and gender studies at the University of Tasmania and was fortunate enough to have Dr Lucy Tatman as one of my lecturers. Dr Tatman introduced me to many female philosophers such as Luce Irigaray, Hannah Arendt and Julia Kristeva. I had little knowledge of these women before, so this made me quite curious about current women philosophers particularly in Australia. Women who I have spoken to who have studied philosophy 20 or so years ago have said that they did not study any women philosophers.

3CR is a community radio station based in Fitzroy, Melbourne, there are mainly talk-based programs that have political themes, there are over 130 programs. 3CR was established to give a voice to various groups within the community that would not normally have a voice within the mass media. These groups include women, people with disabilities, indigenous people and the working class. 3CR is a financially independent organisation that does not have commercial advertising therefore relies on donations and membership for financial support.

“Radical Philosophy” is live to air every Thursday between 3.30 and 4.00 pm on 3CR Community Radio, 855 on your AM dial. If you’re not able to listen to the show live you can go to the 3CR website: http://www.3cr.org.au/radicalphilosophy also facebook has some podcasts, https://www.facebook.com/radicalphilosophyradioshow?pnref=story The current program will be available on audio on demand for seven days and some previous programs will be available to listen to on podcast. Even though “Radical Philosophy” has only been on the air for six months, at the 3CR awards night I was thrilled to receive an award for the best new program. My main aim with the program, apart from giving women in philosophy a voice in the media, is to make philosophy more accessible to a generalist audience. So rather than just focusing on academic questions, I always ask the interviewee what was it that inspired them to study their particular topic. I think this also to give the listeners a snapshot about who the interviewee is on a more personal

Women’s events at recruitment weekends

February 21, 2015 § Leave a comment

Lauren Leydon-Hardy writes:

When I visited Northwestern as a prospective student in 2011, I used an opportunity to be alone with a female faculty member to discuss the climate within the department. She was gracious and welcoming, and we spent the better part of half an hour alone in her office, chatting openly about their strengths and their shortcomings. She then directed me to a couple of female graduate students, with whom she encouraged me to continue this conversation. Those conversations were invaluable to me, as a prospective student, facing an enormous question about where to dedicate the next 5-6 years of my life.

Here’s a worry, though – what if some female grads are uncomfortable bringing up these concerns with faculty and current students? What if we’re not doing enough to make those conversations possible?

I worried about these questions. So, two years ago, together with a group of female graduate students, we began hosting an informal get-together for visiting female prospective students. We use this time to host a discussion about the climate in the profession, what it’s like to be a female graduate student at Northwestern, and what it’s like to be a woman in philosophy, more generally. The get-together has been productive for a host of reasons, chief among them being that it establishes a low-stakes social setting in which prospective female graduate students can meet and chat with current female graduate students, to ask difficult questions and explore mutually shared experiences. These conversations are highly relevant to prospective female students making informed decisions about what their best future looks like.

I’m so proud to say that, as of this year, the admissions committee at Northwestern has decided to formalize the women’s get-together, as a standing feature of our annual recruitment weekend. I think this is a tremendous step forward, and signals Northwestern’s continued commitment to fostering an environment that enables every student to put her best foot forward. We have found that this works, and we encourage other departments to try this at home. Set aside time for your visiting female students to sit and chat with current female students. Make space for these conversations. We are sure that you, too, will find it incredibly rewarding.

What Brown is Doing

February 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

The Brown Philosophy Department is pleased to announce a call for applications for the Summer Immersion Program in Philosophy at Brown University. SIPP@Brown is a two-week residential program for members of traditionally underrepresented groups in philosophy, including women and students of color. This year’s program will run from May 31, 2015 to June 13, 2015 and will feature seminars taught by Brown faculty and the SIPP@Brown research conference. Students will have travel and lodging expenses covered and will receive a $500 stipend. More information is available at http://www.sippatbrown.com. The application deadline is March 15.

I’m standing up to a bully

January 27, 2015 § Leave a comment

I’m standing up to the Famous Philosopher bully in my faculty who claims that he is a feminist but belittles, abuses and even rages at any woman who dares to disagree with him. He is rude to any woman who speaks in a meeting, unless she parrots him. He drove my predecessor to despair – literally destroying her health through abusive emails and vicious verbal attacks. Having moved to this new institution recently and learned of the impunity with which this has been allowed to go on, and for how long, I am doing something about it. I’m calling him out: I don’t care who your are, I don’t care how famous you are, no bullying women colleagues. No bullying in the work place. No bullying at all.