What David Chalmers Did About What it’s Like

August 15, 2011 § 4 Comments

Last week, Feminist Philosophers ran this post, about a conference due to occur in about two weeks’ time, noting its total maleness. David Chalmers, one of the speakers, commented almost immediately, saying he hadn’t noticed it and that he had now emailed the organisers. Now, being totally honest here: If I’d been in Chalmers’s position, I would have made a point of saying something about it but I wouldn’t have tried to fix it. I would have thought it impossible. But good for him for not doing that. Here’s what he wrote next:

update: the organizer tells me he invited four women to speak, all declined, then he dropped the ball. i suggested a terrific computer scientist in melbourne, who has agreed to co-present something, so the future of technology is now only 96% male. the organizer says he’s trying to get another woman to speak, although it may or may not work out.

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§ 4 Responses to What David Chalmers Did About What it’s Like

  • Amsterdam says:

    Thanks David. This summer’s crop of conferences featured many all male lineups. Are things getting worse?

    • profbigk says:

      I can’t speak for David, but from the vantage point of one who receives feedback and email at Feminist Philosophers, things seem to be getting better overall. People actually write in about having changed their minds, or paid new attention, or spoken up when they would not have in the past.

      Am I dating myself to say that in my head, I hear Paul McCartney? “It’s getting better all the ti-i-ime.”

  • Amsterdam says:

    I think this is very dependent on one’s area of specialization. In philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics and of logic, things are just dismal.

  • Female Philosopher says:

    The most important thing is for everybody to keep trying to diversify their programs. I applaud Chalmers and this conference organizer for their efforts, even if the final results are disappointing.

    As a white female philosopher who has organized numerous invited sessions for various professional meetings (APA and others), I know first-hand that, in several specialties, the number of non-male and/or non-white experts is very limited. The few available get stretched very thin. But nobody tried harder than I did to diversity the invitations.

    Until we significantly increase the diversity of the profession, this problem is likely to continue. But thanks to all who keep trying.

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