Not surprised at women leaving philosophy

Posted: October 31, 2010 by Jender in Uncategorized

When I was an undergraduate in philosophy (about 10 years ago), I was regularly one of two or the only woman in my classes, which were taught exclusively by men. Because the school and department was very small, the professors regularly developed the sort of helpful relationships with students for which liberal arts colleges are valued–at least with the men. One of the professors in the department (whose work I admired very much) regularly took hiking trips with many of the men, where they would talk philosophy and bond over their shared experience–though (I assume out of a concern to avoid anything that looked scandalous) the women were never invited. While another professor in the department would regularly eat lunch with students in the cafeteria, he also had the particularly upsetting habit of laughing at misogynistic passages in the philosophical texts we read, and sometimes joining in with the men in the class’ “jokes” about women’s intellectual abilities. With all the male bonding going on–sometimes at the women’s expense, and sometimes through our exclusion–it’s not, in retrospect, surprising to me that so few women stayed in philosophy beyond the Intro level. And actually, it’s shocking to me that I did, myself.

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