I was advised to apply straight from the MA program to the PhD program after the first semester of grad school. I was accepted, and while waiting to hear back on funding, a male student made the comment that my application must not have been strong enough, because “I try to act like a man but I still think like a woman”, and asked if I knew how many women had applied because I had a higher chance of getting funding if there were less female applicants.
Another male student said I would get accepted because I’m a woman but I wouldn’t get funding because I don’t do ethics (which is the only specialization for women, apparently).
Once the line did come through and I got the funding, a female student (who works in feminist philosophy, no less)said “I’ve seen some of the incoming students and they’re amazing! You’re lucky you were already here. You’re lucky they already know you. You’re really lucky they like you. Congrats!”
So as far as my department goes according to men, everything is handed to me because of my gender, and according to women, everything is handed to me because of my charm. Man or woman, no one will accept a woman doing well in philosophy based on merit. I’ve considered looking at other programs, but I’m afraid that this is how it’s going to be no matter where I go.