Diversity in philosophy
Raising awareness of women and minorities in academic philosophy
What was the question?
Women and non-white persons are significantly underrepresented in modern philosophy. Since the majority of philosophy lecturers, as well as the majority of the authors of the texts typically read in class, are white men, the image of a stereotypical philosopher is that of a white male. Furthermore, the philosophical ideals of rationality and objectivity are associated with maleness and whiteness. This increases the likelihood of stereotypes and implicit biases which may further disadvantage students and philosophers from underrepresented groups.
The Edinburgh Women in Philosophy Group was established as an assortment of philosophers (aspiring and established), friends, and academics. Our collective goal is to raise awareness of the many debates that currently surround the status of women and minorities in academic philosophy, and to provide support for female faculty and postgraduates.
Through a variety of events and initiatives, we hope to contribute to creating an academic culture of intellectual openness and fairness in which all philosophical talent, irrespective of gender, can thrive and flourish at Edinburgh and beyond.
Three cheers for the Edinburgh Women in Philosophy Group! What a splendid idea, and beautifully timed to catch the rising current of awareness about women in philosophy. I warmly applaud this initiative. Edinburgh is a marvellous place to do philosophy, and you are going to help make it even better for women. I wish I could be there to join your efforts.
The Diversity reading list was established by Dr Simon Fokt as an open repository of philosophical readings by minority authors. By including more of these texts in lectures and tutorials, philosophy teaching staff from all universities can begin to challenge the stereotype of a philosopher as a white male.
Philosophy at Edinburgh also subscribes to the Good Practice Scheme of the British Philosophical Association (BPA). A Philosophy Gender Committee is looking at specific ways and recommendations for implementing the BPA Guidelines on Gender Bias.
How did we contribute?
The Edinburgh Women in Philosophy group aims to:
increase visibility of female faculty at the organisation and management level
- ensure broader equality in numbers of female speakers at workshops, seminars, and conferences
- encourage recognition of, and student exposure to, internationally acclaimed female philosophers through invitation to named lectures
- ensure fair representation of women philosophers on syllabi
- raise awareness of implicit gender bias
- provide tutors with skills for ensuring intellectual fairness in tutorials
- provide a series of events and initiatives that promote gender equality, creating an academic culture in which philosophical talent thrives
New Enlightenment Lectures
The New Enlightenment Lecture series was established in December 2012 with the idea of providing our graduate community with women role models in philosophy.
Every year the lecture features a high-profile woman philosopher, leading a roundtable with postgraduate students and faculty on gender issues in the profession, followed by a keynote lecture.
2012 New Enlightenment Lecture: Prof Catherine Wilson (Aberdeen)
2013 New Enlightenment Lecture: Prof Katherine Hawley (St Andrews)
2014 New Enlightenment Lecture: Prof Rae Langton (Cambridge)
2015 New Enlightenment Lecture: Prof Alison Wylie (Washington/Durham)
These events are possible thanks to the generous support of Edinburgh's department of Philosophy, PPLS , and the Scots Philosophical Association.
Members of the Philosophy Gender Committee:
- Dr Alix Cohen (Chair)
- Dr Suilin Lavelle
- Dr Aidan McGlynn
- Dr Elinor Mason
- Professor Pauline Phemister
- Professor Michela Massimi
- Dr Guy Fletcher
For more information about Edinburgh Women in Philosophy, to find out about future events, or to raise an issue for discussion by the group, please contact Alix Cohen, Rie Iizuka, or Anna Ortin Nadal. We are always keen to welcome new members from students and faculty.