A positive experience

Posted: December 10, 2010 by Jender in Uncategorized

Website: I’ve offered some of the negative stories here, but I also want to offer something positive. I went to a small school with a small philosophy department as an undergraduate and had a wonderful experience. I was always treated as being exceptionally good at philosophy and in most of the courses I took, there were a good number of women. (Though I do remember being the only woman in a course at least two times and I do think it was somewhat psychologically difficult—in that it made me extra cognizant of my gender and stereotypes about philosophy as a male discipline. But again, this was only a very small number of the courses I took.) As far as I know, there were similar numbers of men and women doing a philosophy major or minor and I believe during my four years there more women went on to Ph.D. programs in philosophy than did men. This, I think, is particularly impressive because the department had only one female faculty member and I rarely took courses with her. While the male/female faculty ratio at my undergraduate institution wasn’t very different than the male/female faculty ratio at my graduate institution, I found the lack of female faculty much more of a problem for me in graduate school. I don’t know exactly why I was able to do so well as an undergraduate, but I suspect much of it has to do with the supportiveness of a handful of male faculty members from whom I took most of my courses and with whom I worked on my undergraduate thesis. While I continue to think increasing the number of female faculty members is extremely important for female students, I also wonder why it is that some male faculty members are also exceptionally good at supporting female students and how we might capitalize on those individuals/that ability.

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