Thursday, May 24, 2012

Department Meeting Rule #1

That one of your female colleagues has the floor does not mean that it's time to take a bathroom break, or begin a separate conversation in whispers with your neighbor, or check your Blackberry or iPad, or blow you nose loudly, or re-tie your shoelaces in a very overt way, or do anything else but listen as you do when a male colleague is speaking.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the persistent conspiracy-theory-esque notion that female colleagues are treated differently. Out of fear, they're probably treated unequally; in ways that work out in their favor. But any slight that may occur, as they do to everyone, is interpreted as gender discrimination. And, thus, the self-fulfilling prophecy is fulfilled.

Anonymous said...

If I'd do any or all of those things (not all at once, of course) when a male colleague was speaking, can I do them when a female colleague is speaking?

Anonymous said...

And I would add--don't interrupt with protests/comments until she's finished. I've noticed here's a tendency for men to do that with women more aggressivley than they would with other men. (I'm male BTW.)

Anonymous said...

What if that *is* how I treat my male colleagues?

Anonymous said...

It's depressing to me that people like 4:03 seem to exist so frequently. It's not a conspiracy-theory-esque notion that female colleagues are treated differently. It's a well-established fact. Established both by numerous anecdotal evidence of my own and everyone else with a functioning brain and by legitimate scientific studies that in professional situations women are not treated as respectfully as their male peers.

I'm just going to let slide the suggestion that women are treated *better* than their male counterparts because of some fear people have of being perceived to mistreat women. Because no one could possibly assert such a thing in good faith in a world where the Women in Philosophy Blog exists (i.e. this world).

Anonymous said...

How frequently do such people exist? I have only ever met people who exist continuously.

Anonymous said...

I've been in my current department for over a decade, and the only trend I've seen in the meeting-behavior of my colleagues is the tendency of two older males to being speaking to each other whenever one of my female colleagues begins to speak. Serious. It's like clockwork. No conspiracy theory.

Anonymous said...

And I would add--don't interrupt with protests/comments until she's finished.

Alas, I'm afraid that waiting until she's finished to interrupt won't work. To interrupt, you have to do so while she is still speaking.

Better to recommend not interrupting, I say.

Anonymous said...

9:57

I should have said "before". Touche. Why I am a second-class philosopher.

Anonymous said...

4:03,
It's tough to believe you have never heard of it, but:
http://beingawomaninphilosophy.wordpress.com/

Anonymous said...

6:31 PM refers to legitimate scientific studies - I'd be genuinely interested (and in non-concern troll sense) in any studies we have of such behavior in the philosophy world. Ancedotes are fine, but they're not sufficient to 'well-establish' such a claim.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:31. There are (to my reasonably good knowledge) no such studies of sexist behavior in philosophy departments. But there is an enormous amount of evidence concerning other contexts, including academic contexts, and there is also a thing called induction. If sexist behavior exists (and is systematic) in all the professional contexts studied so far, you need a pretty reason to think that it doesn't exist in philosophy departments. If it flew in the face of common experience, then we would be scratching our heads. Since it doesn't, I'm calling concern troll. Saying you're not one has zero evidential value, for good Bayesian reasons.

Tim O'Keefe said...

The following page at Rutgers has good information and further links on both data and anecdotes on bias, andalso useful (and linked to from that page) is Jennifer Saul's draft paper "Implicit Bias, Stereotype Threat and Women in Philosophy" (doc file).

Anonymous said...

First, my department doesn't have any female philosophers. Second, I'd do these things even if my male colleagues were speaking.

Anonymous said...

@6:25: then you'll have no trouble following the rule.

Anonymous said...

Spiros is Orshee

student said...

+1

Anonymous said...

Of course, that sexist behaviour occurs in many (or most) departments, does not mean it occurs in all departments.

And of course in departments where it occurs, not all members of that department will be sexist.

Unless you think that all people are sexist it is reasonable to think that some groups of people - including some philosophy departments - do not contain sexist people.

Anonymous said...

I agree with original anonymous: if women are so discriminated against in philosophy, then how come the men haven't all ganged up together to create a blog for beingamaninphilosophy??? QED

Anonymous said...

Anon 9.38 claims that sexism may not exist in all philosophy departments. Clarification please: is this supposed to show that Spiros's rule against sexism behavior is invalid? Or is it supposed to show that 4/03 and 6.31's claims that there is no sexism in philosophy department is true? Or are just kicking up dust cause you're an asshole?

Anonymous said...

if women are so discriminated against in philosophy, then how come all the men haven't ganged up and taken most of the top jobs? oh, wait...

Anonymous said...

I don't know.There's both bias against women and toward women these days in philosophy, but seeing as how clearly inferior female candidates are getting jobs over their male peers and conference organizers get shamed in public if they don't bend over backwards to invite extra women regardless of quality, it seems that it might be time for all of us to chill out with all this knee-jerk, thoughtless pc-ism.

One way to tell, by the way, that you're being irrational is that you get mad whenever anybody suggests that things are, on net, in favor of women regardless of what evidence is presented. People seem to think that there's some sort of male advantage come what may.

Anonymous said...

Anon: 6:14: RE: "clearly inferior female candidates are getting jobs over their male peers"

"Clearly Inferior" in competence may very well not be what you think it is--see Dunning-Kruger for this.

But, thanks for playing!

Anonymous said...

"clearly inferior female candidates are getting jobs over their male peers"... what? I have seen no evidence of this. You should examine your attitudes about women doing philosophy. And suggesting that people speaking up against all-male conferences means that somehow things are biased towards women is like suggesting that speaking up against all-white country clubs means that somehow things are biased towards non-whites.

Anonymous said...

The overall balance of advantages in professional philosophy may, or may not, be against women.

But if it is on balance, then the knowledge of at least most people in that regard is Gettiered. They would believe it either way, so they can't be sure.

Any philosopher worth his/her salt has no problem coming up with ten counterexamples and ten alternative explanations for any alleged phenomenon you care to mention, except one.

The one exception: sexism in philosophy. The minute that's under discussion, there's only one right answer and anyone who raises doubts is branded an asshole (as I will also be, no doubt, just for pointing out what any objective-minded person would see as obvious).

Anonymous said...

I don't usually wade into these kinds of debates because I'm too busy struggling against the constant, overwhelming oppression that we white males face these days, but I thought I'd stick up for Anon 9:58, who suggested that not all departments are sexist.

I took the implication to be that people should stop assuming that just because no one in their department is sexist, sexism is not a widespread problem in philosophy.

Anonymous said...

11:00's comment reminds me of this: http://www.ginandtacos.com/2012/05/01/

Anonymous said...

8:36,

It's interesting that it reminds you of that. The link you sent discusses a case of someone demanding evidence of something _not_ having happened. 11:00, by contrast, pointed out that anecdotes are not sufficient to demonstrate that something _has_ happened.

I suspect that, in any other context, you would be intelligent and sophisticated enough to notice that major difference.

It really is unfortunate that rationality goes out the window, and rationalizations of the trendy view predominate, whenever sexism in philosophy is under discussion.

Just to be clear: I'm not saying anything about whether there is important sexism in the discipline or how much or how bad. I'm just pointing out that the quality of argument plummets whenever philosophers discuss this. Case in point.

Anonymous said...

The belief that there is sexism in philosophy does not come from a few anecdotes or some personal intuitions, although there are so many personal testimonies involving bad behavior that it is in poor taste to claim that philosophy does not have a problem.

The belief that there is widespread sexism comes from the data. For example: look at how few women there are in top departments. Now look at how few female tenured and full professors there are. Now compare those numbers to linguistics or psychology.

(Perhaps you think the reason for the paucity of women in philosophy is that women are not good at it. News flash: that is a sexist attitude.)

Anonymous said...

2:51 really is a good example of how some philosophers check their critical thinking at the door when talking about hot-button issues.

The small number of women in the profession is obviously not evidence that women are treated with less respect in philosophy than men are.

And the final parenthetical is obviously a straw man.

I think 1:08's point has been made nicely. (I am not 1:08, by the way.)