What the University of Melbourne is doing about what it’s like

May 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

From Antonia Smyth:

Dear all,

I am a Masters student in Philosophy at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and I wanted to share with you a project that I and some fellow students have been working on. Female mentors for undergraduate women are few and far between here, and although a few of us have pursued philosophy, women are greatly outnumbered in our programs, as you might expect.

We created a group called WIPUM (Women in Philosophy at the University of Melbourne) as a supportive environment for women considering continuing with philosophy to share their experiences. So far, we have run several successful events, including social get-togethers, as well as a reading and discussion group. With the support of the faculty’s fantastic Dr. Karen Jones, we now run a weekly session where we discuss women’s representation in philosophy, focusing on texts such as Sally Haslanger’s “Changing the ideology and culture of philosophy: not by reason (alone)” and the books “Singing in the fire: Stories of women in philosophy” and “Women in philosophy: What needs to change?”

We are also hosting a drop-in tutoring workshop for women undergraduates, as a number of them have expressed to us a reluctance to speak in class or to approach lecturers for essay advice. Next semester we also hope to start a lecture series featuring work from women philosophers at the university, both students and staff. We also have a facebook page where we post relevant news, papers, and articles of interest (www.facebook.com/wipum.melb in case you’d like to have a look!)

I just wanted to let others know that setting up WIPUM was not as difficult as I first thought it would be, and that if you’re thinking of doing something like this, you should definitely go for it! Running most of these events was really just a simple matter of booking a room, choosing readings, and publicising them online and in classes. We have received some very positive feedback from both women and men, faculty members and  alike, and it has really helped us to bring women philosophers together on campus to come up with strategies for increasing their participation.

We haven’t been running for long, but I have already made a lot of new friends, and have begun to feel less frustrated with the culture present in philosophy than when I started my degree. I would really encourage women in philosophy departments everywhere to try something like this if possible!

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