Seeing the recent post about “Problems with Confucianism” reminded me of various levels of hypocrisy that I see male colleagues get away with, including a male colleague who claims to be a feminist.

Soon after meeting him, I disagreed with said male colleague on a matter within my AOS and he told me that I just think that because of my educational background.

He said something horrible to a student, and in his defense, to me, of this issue, he mentioned an incident in which he told a woman reading another work he disliked that she was “going through a phase.” He seemed surprised that she had been offended by this patronizing comment.

Same colleague has had several complaints from women in his courses, who do not feel respected, to the point that they seek help from other professors, or drop his class, or try to switch into another section, even well past mid-term or in situations when it could hurt their grade. I am leaving out several incidents that are hard to explain while keeping it anonymous, but I fear he is both classist and an in-denial misogynist.

He goes as far as to make claims about what should be taught in my AOS, which he has no experience in. My chair, who is otherwise great, seems to agree with his claims. What do I know, I am just a woman (a woman with a PhD in that AOS, who apparently knows less about what is important and relevant than a man who works in a completely unrelated area).

Okay, sexism is not new.

But here’s the rub: he discusses inclusivity frequently both publicly and in the department, and takes it upon himself to make others feel that they are not doing enough.

It makes me so angry that, frequently enough, women, people of color and others from underrepresented backgrounds are just expected to promote diversity and inclusion, without praise. But a man is praised for his awesome behaviour when he even claims to be for X, Y, or Z. Words seem to speak louder than actions and it makes me ill.

He is actively making me feel unwelcome, and undervalued, and yet he is viewed as a “good person.”

I am untenured and have no voice. He might just get his way and push me out, perhaps he can get another white male “feminist” from a privileged background to enter the department in my stead and further his “cause.”

I lose sleep over his behaviour and what it does for women at my university, what it says about philosophy, about my department. He gets kudos. I feel defeated.

I feel stuck and saddened, and yes, grateful to have a position at all, and an ability to try to counteract the damage that he inflicts. Nonetheless, the hypocrisy has wounded me deeply. My sense of powerlessness, while familiar, is even harder to express since he is viewed as “one of the good guys.”

I have kept this incident to myself for more than 10++ years. Only now dare I speak, as I no longer think the incident will be salient to those who otherwise could easily identify me.

I am now a full professor in the U.S. at a fairly top institution (if there is any meaningful way of measuring that). The event I want to tell you about took place when I was just out of graduate school and had just started a tenure-track job.

It happened at one of the not-so-dreadful APA meetings back then. I was chatting with another junior professor from another university; male junior professor. It quickly dawned on us that we had overlapping AOSs, and the rest of the evening we talked shop. I told the male junior about a new idea which I had already fleshed out in a still-unpublished paper.

Looking back at our chat, I can now see that things were a bit off. I can now see how weirdly excited the bloke was about my idea. It’s hard to describe. There was nothing erotic about it (for once). Yet his keen interest was too keen, too intense, too in-my-face.

A couple of hours later I had promised to send him a copy of my paper.

And so I did. And I quickly forgot all about the meeting and our chat. I received comments on the paper from generous colleagues, and it was accepted for publication in a fairly top journal (if there is any meaningful way of measuring that).

One year later the male junior professor published a paper. I am still in shock. The paper he published was virtually a paraphrase of my article from the year before.

But that wasn’t it. Mistakes happen, right? They sure do. In his paper the male junior professor cited my already-published article as forthcoming, in spite of the fact that it had been out for more than a year at the time. In later work he perpetuated the mistake by citing my article as having appeared in print two years after it actually did —thus making him look like the voice of the idea.

Back then—and then, even more so than now—if a philosopher was bothered citing a contemporary’s paper, the author would usually be a man—and this was so, regardless of how many women had already said the same thing before them.

And so it happened. The male junior person—who soon moved up through the ranks—was publicly credited with my idea. Eventually heaps of people cited his paper. I occasionally get cited for the same idea but with the same typo in the year of publication, which makes my paper look like a footnote to his.

I am sure what I just told you still happens a lot, and it saddens me, not least because there is an easily discoverable fact of the matter in these kinds of cases. Yet what can one do? What could I have done?

What made me think of this incident tonight was that I just spent all evening reading an entry in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on this very topic. I was taken aback when I realized that the male professor from back then was credited with my idea in the encyclopedia entry. My paper wasn’t even cited, let alone discussed.

I could have come forward then. I could still come forward, I could stop hiding. But then what? What would happen?

I am saddened by this too: But honestly I don’t think philosophy is ready for its own hashtag feminist or anti-elite movement. Philosophers are all talk and no show, myself included. We talk and talk and talk about all the injustices we face and then we continue doing as we have always done. Isn’t it incredible that women in Hollywood were able to “pull off” what many of us female philosophers have dreamed of “pulling off” for years?

That is what saddens me most: I don’t think philosophy is ready to break with the male culture of buddy shoulder-padding, buddy-invites and buddy-hires. Philosophers, regardless of gender, aren’t willing to admit that there is a select inner circle who are particularly privileged and who got to where they are because of said privilege, not because of their acumen or intellect, not because they intellectually surpass the rest. One factor that increases the likelihood of being privileged is the Y-factor. It’s not everything. But it gives the guy the head start and protection needed to get away with cheating and riskier “idea heists.”

As I am coming to a close, let me emphasize that privilege and cheating go hand in hand, and that it still is the privileged philosophers and the cheaters who wind up with the golden tickets, the golden eggs, the Everlasting Gobstoppers and a whole lot of Oompa-Loompas.

Gender-inclusive language

Posted: May 22, 2018 by jennysaul in Uncategorized

I had the opportunity to publish an article in a journal that is well established in country XX. I sended the finished article to the journals chief lector. In my draft, I was using gender-inclusive language which was completely removed in the edited version of my article. I was kind of shocked about that and so I went to my (female) head and told her about it. She laughed and said “Well, he is like a typical old man!‘‘ and kept on laughing. Subsequently she changed the subject of our conversation. I felt lost after this conversation as there is enough evidence of the importance and relevance of gender-inclusive language and furthermore I really thought that it‘s basically the norm in scientific publications these days. Not least I was pretty sure that my head will support me in this matter.

So in the end I returned the article and complemented gender-inclusive language. The chief lector never came back to me. Until now, I don’t know if the article will or won‘t be published with gender-inclusive language.

I am a female faculty member at a mid-sized, teaching-centered state university. Although I have great colleagues and am quite happy with my current job, I fear that subtle sexism in the field may hinder the further development of my career … and I am saddened to realize that it probably already has.

Despite my efforts to gain the respect and recognition of the (mostly male) advanced scholars in my field, I definitely feel like I’ve hit a plateau or, sure, I’ll say it, a glass ceiling. I have been fairly successful getting papers published, so that’s not the problem. But this does not translate into respect or recognition at the conferences that I go to in my research areas. That is what has been irritating me lately.

For example, I have attended X conference for 6 of the last 8 years. The conference is very specialized, and the review process for getting a paper on the program is highly competitive. Still, I manage to have a paper accepted regularly. Moreover, I am one of the most active participants in the conversation at the conference each year. I know everyone’s name, as there are only about 50 of us. Despite all of this, several of the older male participants that make up the “base” of the society do not know my name. They do not bother to look up or share any biographical details when they present me. They do not read or cite my work. They have given leadership roles in the organization to male grad students over me, although I am now an Associate Professor.

I have also been going to Y conference regularly for 14 years (since my first year of graduate school up to the present). At this conference, participation is by invitation only, and you are either invited as a non-presenting participant or as a presenting participant. This approach is problematic, but would be less so if it were based on merit in any sense. Those invited to give special papers at this conference are invariably picked among (a) a group of 5 or 6 core (older male) professors and (b) their male colleagues or male (“golden boy”) students. Invites to the presentation spots on the program almost never go to females. If they do, they are usually the wives of core members. Over the past 14 years, only one of the female students of the core group have been invited to present (married to a core member). Meanwhile, about 15 male students have been invited. Highly successful female faculty have, on the other hand, been invited to take on service jobs for the organization. I can think of about a dozen women right now who gradually stopped coming to the conference, although they should be among its leadership by now.

In a field where mentoring relationships are essential to networking, it’s clear to see that lack of substantial, long-term mentorship of women philosophers is partially to blame for the low number of women in leadership positions. Although my advisor was personally very encouraging to me when I was dissertating, I am beginning to recognize that he was much more helpful to his male students in terms of real, long-term mentoring and networking. After I completed my dissertation, he never followed up with me to see about my research, to invite me in on a project, to invite me to give a talk, etc. Like many of the inspiring, successful male professors I had around me as a graduate student, none seemed to want to transition to treating me as a peer in the field. They seem very happy to have me participating in their conferences (often, I feel, as a token woman), but they seem to have no interest in really engaging my work.

Lately, I have been talking with a couple of women who are senior in the field about these things, and that makes all the difference. I hope to persuade one of them to act as a mid-career mentor for me. I don’t think it is too late to find a good mentor, but I think I need to stop expecting it to come from these male figures in the profession that I originally imagined it would come from.

A phone call

Posted: April 26, 2018 by jennysaul in harassment, Uncategorized

45 minutes ago I got a phone call from a man who identified himself as [name] from [University]. He asked me a few questions about my research and teaching interests, including “Do you use ancient Greek sources in your ethics class?” I said sure, a bit of Aristotle. “The Nicomachean ethics?” Yep. He then asked “When was the last time you stood naked on your desk with cum dripping from your cunt?” He followed up with several more comments, including an assurance that he was about to cum and that I liked it (why else would I be listening). I’m fortunate that my department is very supportive, so the incident is logged with the Chair and higher up from there. Hopefully IT can track the call but maybe not.

A disappointment

Posted: August 30, 2017 by jennysaul in Uncategorized

While making a syllabus, I came across several recommendations for a new anthology. One of its supposed advantages is that the authors had made a concerted effort to make it more diverse by including more women and POC authors. I was very happy to hear that such a text existed, and hoped it might save me the effort of compiling my own diversified reading list for my class, so I bought a copy.

When I began flipping through the newly arrived volume, I noticed that the very first line on the very first page of the very first chapter reads as follows, “When a philosopher tells you that he…” To be clear, this first section is introductory text written by the authors in the last 5 years, not an excerpt from a text written 50+ years ago, so there is no plausible deniability for pretending that “he” is gender-neutral.

Online discussion of ‘diversity hires’

Posted: August 24, 2017 by jennysaul in Uncategorized

I’m a woman graduate student in philosophy. I recently came across one of those anonymous online forums where people gossip about philosophers and academic philosophy. It made me feel sick to read what some of these people say, especially about women and people of color in philosophy, whose success gets written off because they’re “diversity hires.”

I fear that one day, if I am so lucky to get a job in academic philosophy, I’ll be gossiped about on one of these stupid websites. I also fear that the bullies who contribute to them may secretly be among my colleagues.

I’m hesitant to even submit this here, because I don’t want to feed the trolls. But these people don’t just exist online. They exist in real life, and apparently, they might be working down the hall from us.