Women and Philosophy: Why is it “Goodbye” at “Hello”?

February 21, 2014
Morgan Thompson
Abstract: Although women are underrepresented in most levels of the philosophy profession, work by Molly Paxton, Carrie Figdor, and Valerie Tiberius (2012) suggests that the drop-off in representation occurs between intro courses and majoring in philosophy. In order to look for potential explanations of the underrepresentation of women in philosophy at the undergraduate level, Toni Adleberg, Sam Sims, Eddy Nahmias, and I created and conducted a climate survey of over 700 students enrolled in Introduction to Philosophy at Georgia State University in fall of 2012 and again in fall of 2013. We aimed to test a number of hypotheses about why women might leave philosophy disproportionately to men after intro courses. Based on our findings from the 2012 climate survey, we devised two interventions to perform in intro courses in fall of 2013. In this talk, I will be presenting the results of these interventions. First, we required all graduate students teaching in fall of 2013 to have at least 20% women authors on their syllabi. Second, in half of the classes in 2013, the instructors gave a presentation on philosophy’s relevance to the students’ lives and usefulness for future employment opportunities. Finally, I will interpret our results and draw implications for the gender gap in philosophy as a whole as well as provide concrete suggestions and resources to help interested parties apply these interventions to their own Intro courses.

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