Stereotype threat in action

Posted: October 15, 2010 by Jender in Maleness of philosophy

I’m an undergraduate, female student in philosophy at a prominent, European university. None of our coursebooks are written by women, we do not study any female philosphers at all and my (male) teachers do not refer to work done by women. Among fifteen or twenty percent of the students in my class are female. I estimate that more than 90 percent of the student talk time is used by men. It is extremely tiresome to, on top of the studies themselves, have to deal with this tenacious male dominance, complete with an alarming sense of stereotype threat, that literally kills my ability to think clear in some classroom situations. The worst thing of all is my deep distrust of my own mind. Sometimes, when I work on a philosphical problem, I desperatly try to detect the mistakes in my thinking before I even have completed the idea to myself. It seems like my brain becomes paralyzed by fear. I do not know if I will continue taking philosphy next semester, mainly because of this. Since it feels directly harmful and crippling. It sometimes affects me outside of class too. I have taken studies in gender, culture and violence before, so I know what is happening in these situations and I know that I have not felt like this before during my education. I just do not know if, in the end, I will actually think it is worth it. The majority of my female peers seem to decide that it is not, since the numbers of women students dropping philosophy are so incredibly high.

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