Supporting women philosophers in many ways

April 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

I just completed my PhD in a department filled with people who were actively concerned about making the department a welcoming place for women–something I was continually conscious of (in a good way!), having come from undergraduate and M.A. programs that were not exactly hospitable.

A few things stand out to me as definitive of my experience in my department:

– My adviser, a senior feminist, organized a Women’s Philosophy Colloquium that met once a semester for dinner and conversation. I cannot overstate the value of these meetings for my own (and, I think, many other women’s) sense of belonging in the department.  It also functioned as an inclusive philosophical space that served many of us well, particularly as young graduate students testing out ideas and finding our voices.

– The department hired women (plural!) and feminists (plural!) during my time there.  This kind of validation of women’s and feminists’ philosophical contributions was so encouraging to my own work, and many of my colleagues.

– The department supported a project undertaken by two women graduate students to determine through surveys and institutional research the causes of its prior failures to graduate women at the same rate as men.  It then contributed to the funding (!) of a conference organized by these same graduate students that sought to find solutions (through mentoring, institutional reform, and curriculum changes) to these problems.

My department was at Vanderbilt University, and I’m proud to have been a student there.


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