Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Satirical post concerning what it is like

Posted: October 27, 2014 by Jender in Uncategorized

How to Avoid Hiring a Feminist Philosopher: Some Helpful Tips

1. Never read any feminist philosophy so that you are not familiar with the journals in which feminist philosophers publish and then make it a necessary condition of your putting someone on the finalist list that you are familiar with the journals in which they publish.

2. Disqualify the feminists on the ground that their work is subpar. This will be tricky if also want to use the tactic described in 1. For if you use that tactic, you will reveal (by claiming that you are not familiar with any of the journals in which they publish) that you do not know the literature they are engaging and hence are not in a good position to evaluate their work.

3. Disqualify the feminists on the ground that they are a “poor fit” and “will not have anyone to talk to” in your department about their work. This can be tricky for two reasons. First, you might have trouble using this tactic if you use tactic 1. The reason is that if you are competent to evaluate their work for the purposes of rejecting them as finalists, then you qualify as someone who could talk to them about their work in a way that is useful to them. And if this so, your claim that “they will have no one to talk to” actually expresses a refusal on your part to talk to them.

The second tricky thing about this tactic is that there might be people in the meeting who work on feminism. This makes the “lack of fit” argument difficult to make. The problem is that if you are making the “lack of fit” case because you are ignorant of the fact that some of your colleagues work on feminism, then you are not informed enough about your colleagues’ research programs to make proclamations about the potential fit of job candidates. If you do know that your colleagues work on feminism, and you insist nonetheless that there is a “lack of fit,” then you reveal that you either 1) are coining a normative term of art (“lack of fit” means “works on something I find worthless”) or 2) believe that your colleagues who work on feminism are not worth talking to.

4. Disqualify candidates according to the lack of frequency with which the publish in “the top five generalist journals.” Here you will have to ignore the fact (which is admittedly hard to miss if you read said journals) that said journals rarely if ever publish in feminism. Also, you must ignore the fact that your criterion might be suspect due to the fact that these journals have been found to disproportionately publish male philosophers (and that some of them fail to use a fully anonymous review process—see “implicit bias” in 5 below.) Unfortunately, you will also have to avoid the entire philosophy-relevant blogosphere wherein this problem, and others, such as the low citation rates of women in these journals, has been widely discussed.

Be aware that this tactic for disqualifying candidates can get you into trouble in at least two ways. First, it is likely that some of the candidates that you want to be on the finalist list—friends, people who “seem smart”—will score poorly according to this criterion. So, be sure to talk about the “scores” of only those you wish to keep off of the list. If someone notices that some candidates that you favor score poorly in this regard, point out that those candidates, nevertheless, publish in the top journals in their field. If the person challenging you points out the feminist philosophers whom you want to keep off the list also publish in the top journals in their field, try reverting to 1 above.

Another issue is the research profiles of your colleagues who are present in the hiring meeting. Some of them will work in areas other than feminism, which rarely appear in the “top five generalist journals” (e.g., applied ethics, applied social philosophy, continental philosophy, Buddhist philosophy, Indian philosophy, Chinese philosophy, experimental philosophy, environmental philosophy, philosophy of medicine, philosophy of music and philosophy of film, to name a few). They might find your criterion of little value. You might go ahead and bring it up anyway and risk insulting them. For one, they might value collegiality so much that they won’t call you on this in the meeting. Or, they might just sit in stunned silence not knowing how to respond. Or, alternatively, they might inexplicably support the values of those who occupy the center, not minding at all that those are the very values that place them in the margin.

5. If you want to propose with a straight face that you are disqualifying a disproportionate number of women from the finalist pool (which is an effective means of removing the feminist philosophers from said pool) strictly on the basis of merit, you will have to remain ignorant of the studies on implicit bias and the extensive discussion of said studies within the profession, including sessions at professional meetings and entire conferences organized around this theme. Maintaining this ignorance will require, too, that you avoid the entire philosophy-related blogosphere. You will also have to refrain from reading the NYT and the Chronicle of Higher Education and you absolutely cannot log on to facebook if you have very many philosophy friends.

6. When you propose rejecting almost all of the women in the candidate pool, it is essential that you express regret about this. You could say, for example, that it is a shame that so few women are making it to the finalist list. Of course, what is really true is that you are choosing to keep them off of the list, producing through your own choices the happening that you are assessing from the third person point of view as “a shame.” Perhaps no one will notice that this shameful happening could be prevented by you.

At the beginning of my undergraduate degree I had a routine meeting with the undergraduate advisor for the department. When I entered his office he looked me over quite thoroughly then asked me if I really wanted to major in Philosophy or if perhaps I had made a mistake when choosing my major. My immediate thought was “he doesn’t think I belong here….is there something obvious that he can tell just by looking at me that indicates that I don’t belong here studying philosophy?” I went on to do an MA in Philosophy but that experience epitomized the remainder of my philosophical education and is the main reason I am no longer in the field.

What not to say to someone who leaves

Posted: April 1, 2014 by Jender in Uncategorized

I am a junior faculty member a few years out from my Ph.D. I graduated from a top institution, have a pretty decent publication list for someone in my position, and consistently receive high scores on my teaching evaluations.

Recently, I decided to leave academia for a variety of personal reasons, none of which were about my ability to be a philosopher. I decided to tell the Head of Department in person first, before formally submitting my resignation.

His reply? “Oh well, some people aren’t cut out for philosophy.”

Better than it used to be

Posted: August 12, 2013 by Jender in Uncategorized

In 1969 when I was a student at UC Berkeley as a Philosophy Major my faculty adviser told me that Philosophy was no place for a woman. When he met with male students he would sometimes meet with them for an hour. I was lucky if I got 10 or 15 minutes. I had to leave college for personal reasons but I returned to school (Humboldt State University) in 1998 and in 2000 I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree. The philosophy department was so much better with women being treated better. Now I am in a Philosophy discussion group (mostly retirees like myself) and the women are equal to the men. I appreciate being able to read about the experiences of other women. Oh and men saying that women can’t handle their style of debate (aggressive, mean spirited and nasty). Well yeah, maybe these guys could learn something from women as to how to have a civil discussion.

A particularly harrowing account

Posted: August 11, 2013 by Jender in Uncategorized

of what it’s like to be a woman in philosophy, in the Guardian.

Why that doctorate is unfinished

Posted: August 4, 2013 by Jender in Uncategorized

I came across your site from a Twitter link [...]. I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am that this conversation if finally happening. I am now a youthful 60 yr. old with an unfinished doctorate in Philosophy: unfinished because of a complicated relationship with my thesis advisor. As a Plato scholar, he loved the dialogue The Phaedrus and its theme of Eros in education. So his year long seduction of me as naive 25 yr. old virgin was, in his mind, an intellectual exercise in “expanding my horizons” and ” helping me break free of the narrow confines of my Christian upbringing”. I was so deeply flattered by the attentions of this urbane and sophisticated older man, that I ignored that inner voice of caution that kept trying to warn me of the danger ahead. At least I resisted the inevitable coupling for almost a year (how I was stoking his love of the seduction game without realizing it!). When I finally became intimate with him, having persuaded myself that he must love me to pay so much attention, I immediately discovered that I was merely a notch on his bedpost.
Even when the very messy relationship ended and I married a fellow grad student (to whom I am still happily married after 30 years), the professor contined to play manipulative games with me until I finally felt so exhausted by the struggle that I just gave up trying to,finish the thesis.
I never pursued action against the man, partly because of my shame at my own stupidity but also because in those days it was so common that such teacher/ student relationships happened and as yet sexual harrasment policies were quite new. Some of,my fellow female students who did complete their doctorates had relationships with male professors but were savvy enough to know how to use the intimacy to their advantage.
The long term outcome for me was a complete undermining of my self- confidence as an intellectual. In spite of having been awarded major graduate scholarships, I kept thinking that my advisor saw me only in sexual terms because I was not a good enough student. That undermining of my already fragile self- confidence stays with me as the sorry legacy of that complicated and confusing time. My deepest sympathies go out to this new generation of smart women having to traverse the minefield of grad school.

Why grad school beats working

Posted: July 30, 2013 by Jender in Uncategorized

When I first got to my undergraduate program, I was hit on by a married grad student that I did not desire. Every time I looked up from my desk, I would find him checking me out. During office hours, he would do things like seductively invade my personal space while staring at my lips and slowly licking his own. This behavior displaced any academics altogether. At one point, when we were in a hallway together, two male grad students went by and laughed when they saw us. One said, “At it again, L?” So, his behavior was not a secret and yet he was still hired for TA work. That’s sad. But what really frightened me is the fact that L wasn’t reading my social cues very well. For instance, all gentlemen retreat when I unnecessarily weasel the words, “my toddler” and “my husband” into the conversation. L did not. In fact, his response to these cues involved a phallic demonstration that I’d never seen before featuring a blue whiteboard marker. My husband asked me to stop attending L’s discussion section and office hours, which I did. My final grade was low so I asked L for a copy of my final exam. The commentary that he gave me on the final paper had a hostile tone and it was sent with a second attachment that turned out to be a spyware program.

The following quarter, L took the same class as me and sat behind me daily to harass me, regardless of where I sat. He pointed at me and said that “that thing” smelled, was irrelevant, and didn’t belong in the field because it wasn’t White. His main focus was my sexual undesirability. To be clear, this was not hazing. It wasn’t even racism. This was obsessive retaliation for sexual rejection. Women should be able to politely decline flirtation without being harassed for three months. Things worsened as it became clear that the class professor, “Friend” and I shared an intense sexual attraction. My husband of ten years, to whom I tell everything, was not concerned. However, the attraction infuriated L and, the more I tried to hide it, the more vicious his comments in class became. He began lurking around when I’d go to Friend’s office hours. I felt physically afraid of him and had trouble sleeping. L then tried to arrange to be the one to grade me, despite not being my TA. Wisely, the gods saved L from himself and denied the bizarre grading proposal. Later, he sidled up to me as I tried to outrun him down the hall. He explained that grad school sure beats having to work in the workforce. And, I’m sure that it does. Outside of academia, sexual harassment is both illegal and illicit.