Jennifer Saul goes on to talk about the other ways women are belittled and overlooked in philosophy departments.
The blog also contains story after story of women whose point isn’t taken seriously until repeated by a man; or who simply aren’t called on during question periods. And the Gendered Conference Campaign (run by the group blog Feminist Philosophers, of which I’m also a part) documents conference after conference with absolutely no invited women speakers. Recent work by Kieran Healy has dramatically demonstrated how infrequently work of women philosophers is cited.
What lies behind this? There is undeniably still some outright prejudice in the field: One male philosopher I knew was well-known for openly declaring that women and black people are generally of inferior intelligence, and he remains highly respected and extremely well-paid. But much more frequently what’s probably going on is due to implicit bias — unconscious associations we hold largely due to living in cultures structured by social categories like race or gender. Psychologists have firmly established that these associations lead us — even, very often, the committed egalitarians among us — to judge the very same CV to be less good when a female name appears at the top rather than a male one. They also lead us to take women’s comments less seriously, to have more difficulty recognizing them as leaders, and to be less likely to think of them when considering who to invite to a conference. All this takes place largely outside of our conscious awareness, and can’t be corrected simply by trying harder to be unbiased.
So…could someone develop a pill, please? Or an implant? Or a genetic modification?
Moreover, reflecting approvingly on one’s own objectivity (as philosophers are wont to do) will make it worse.
Oh god. Oh god oh god oh god – it’s The Skeptics again. I think they’re even more wont to do that than philosophers are. They are very wont to do that. Remember Mr Deity the other day? Yammering about other people’s cognitive biases while in the very act of hotly insisting that a friend and collaborator of his couldn’t possibly have a skeezy side? Yeah. Irregular verbs, but even more irregular than usual – I’m objective and you’re not.
I know I have implicit biases. I know I do. I was raised on cowboy shows and cop shows and war movies like everyone else! How could I possibly not have them?
I think an implant would be the best way to go. At birth. Mandatory.