“Prove to me that women can write a thesis”

Posted: December 11, 2010 by Jender in women are incompetent

I want to contribute to this great proposal by telling you an anecdote with my PhD supervisor. I am a female philosopher, and, in my third PhD year, I got a comment from my supervisor that, at that time, I didn’t know how to interpret. We had clearly different philosophical positions, and I resisted defending his position in my thesis. In every meeting we had, I would come with ideas and arguments to defend my particular position, and he would reject them saying I did not understand the issue in the right way. Of course he knew better than me, and I would re-read the papers, re-think my arguments, and come back the following day with (or so I thought) better arguments. We never understood each other, and I came to think I was not a good philosopher. Then I got this comment from him “I am going to think women cannot write a thesis”, my answer was “why do you think so?, and he said “well, prove me I am wrong”. The challenge, then, was to write a thesis defending what he thought it was the right position. I wrote an MA thesis following his advice, and I still feel embarrassed about it, because, even though I tried to elaborate good arguments, in that work I ignored all the points that, according to my modest opinion, were on the right track, for the sake of arguing in favour of what he told me to defend. I gave up on writing a PhD thesis, on becoming a professional philosopher and work on a research career, since, if I am not a good philosopher, what am I doing? As a kind of self-challenge, I tried once last time, and started to work as an independent researcher. That happened about 4 years ago. Nowadays I consider myself a good enough philosopher, and good achievements in the last years made me trust myself again. And I came to understand better his comment. I think that my professional carreer would have not suffered in that way if I were a man.

Comments are closed.