U. of Oklahoma’s collective and concerted efforts
July 15, 2011 § 7 Comments
In the spirit of this blog, I will list a couple of things that I personally have done about what it’s like for women in the profession, and then some of the many things that my department has done.
I have organized all or parts of five conferences or workshops in the last three years. In each successive case, I worked harder to achieve gender balance, and had greater success. I worked harder, not because I came to care more or take the problem of gendered conferences more seriously, but because of reading sites like this that gave me practical suggestions and tips about how to do a better job at it. I have begun to include readings from feminism and philosophy of race in my courses, even though I don’t teach courses *on* those topics. (Admittedly, this is pretty new. I will do this in the Fall and in subsequent semesters, but somehow I found this to be one of the more difficult things to change.)
Now, my department (the University of Oklahoma):
We created a committee on Recruiting and Diversity, which includes as members both the Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Director of Graduate Studies; the committee has been involved in many of the initiatives listed below. The chair of this committee has been involved in graduate admissions and in every hire, tenure-track or not, that has been made since the committee was formed. She looks at every applicant dossier with an eye to identifying and advocating for female, racial minority, queer and disabled candidates whose qualifications might otherwise have been overlooked.
For our most recent tenure-track hire, we overhauled our hiring procedures (completely eliminating APA-style interviews, among other measures), expressly for the purpose of minimizing the operation of implicit bias. (I had previously written up a detailed explanation of how we proceeded, but it was far too long to post here. If anyone is interested, please feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.) We are, by the way, extremely happy with the outcome of that search!
We have adopted a formal parental leave policy, offering one semester of leave after the birth or adoption of a child.
We have brought more women into the department as faculty, which we expect will contribute to an environment that is more supportive for women students. Three of our last 4 tenure-track hires have been women, 2 of whom are now tenured. Three of our last 5 visiting assistant professors have been women.
We have made a concerted effort to identify and recruit qualified women students, and 50% of our PhD students admitted over the past two years have been women.
We have begun sending out official messages from the chair each semester to students who perform well in our undergraduate courses, encouraging them to consider majoring in philosophy. (Data in other environments suggest that such messages have a disproportionately encouraging effect on female students.)
We brought Sally Haslanger to campus to offer a workshop for faculty members about creating a hospitable climate. We have added sessions about department climate (with discussions of implicit bias, microaggressions, solo status, stereotype threat, and related concepts) to the proseminar all graduate students take in their first semester, and have generally worked to be more vigilant about microaggressions and other factors that create a chilly or hostile climate for women and members of groups underrepresented in philosophy. We adopted a Statement on Department Professional Conduct that is sent out to each of our graduate students every year.
We have developed new undergraduate courses in feminist philosophy and philosophy and race and organized a feminist philosophy reading group.
We have hired a junior faculty member with an AOS in feminist ethics and invited colloquium speakers who specialize in feminist philosophy, philosophy of race, gay & lesbian philosophy, and Native American philosophy.
Many our faculty, staff members, and graduate students have gone through our campus’s LGBTQ ally training program (known as Sooner Ally). This fact is announced on our home page and on the listing of our faculty. (Our department has more Sooner Allies than any other academic unit on campus, as you can see here: http://www.ou.edu/content/studentlife/diverse_communities/lgbtq/sooner_ally/sooner_ally_list.html.)
Thanks again for providing a forum for those of us who are trying to do something about what it’s like for women in philosophy to share strategies, hopes and successes. It has already helped me in its short existence. I hope that some of the things I have shared will be useful to others.
Wayne D. Riggs
University of Oklahoma