[SydPhil] Current Projects: Why are there so few women in philosophy?

Kristie Miller kristie_miller at yahoo.com
Tue Apr 29 09:49:59 AEST 2014

Dear all,

This Thursday's current projects paper (presented by Tom Dougherty and co-authored with Samuel Baron and Kristie Miller) asks the question: why are there so few women in the philosophy profession? The paper presents some recent empirical findings and then presents the particular findings of a study undertaken at the University of Sydney.

It is well understood that female underrepresentation is a problem in the philosophy profession. It is also well understood that the phenomenon emerges during students’ tertiary education. What is less well understood is why philosophy has this problem. Several explanatory hypotheses have been proposed, which could either point to a single cause, or several causes that combine to form a “perfect storm” (Antony 2012). We can group these hypotheses into two families: “classroom influences hypotheses” that posit causes of the problem within the university and “prior influences hypotheses” that posit causes in students’ experiences before they arrive at university. Since there has not yet been a mapping of these hypotheses in the literature, we will briefly survey each in turn. We designed the present study to explore the relationship between gender and individuals’ views about philosophy at the undergraduate level during a first year, undergraduate philosophy course. Our aim was to find out whether it is one of the prior influences hypotheses that explains the female underrepresentation at the undergraduate level or whether it is one of the classroom influences hypotheses that does this work or both. Since it is common to all prior influences hypotheses that factors exogenous to tertiary level study in philosophy are responsible for female underrepresentation and since it is common to all classroom influences hypothesis that factors endogenous to tertiary level study in philosophy are responsible for female underrerpresentation, our study sought to test these two core claims. Accordingly, it was hypothesised that (1) at the beginning of a first-year philosophy course, there would be a difference between women and men’s attitudes toward philosophy and (2) the impact of doing a first-year undergraduate philosophy course on women’s attitudes toward philosophy would be greater than for men’s.

As usual, papers are in the Muniment Room in the main quad. Hope to see you all there.

Associate Professor Kristie Miller
Senior ARC Research Fellow
School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry and
The Centre for Time
The University of Sydney
Sydney Australia
Room 407, A 14

kmiller at usyd.edu.au
kristie_miller at yahoo.com
Ph: +612 9036 9663

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