Why anonymous grading needs to be standard

Posted: July 15, 2011 by Jender in implicit bias

The most depressing thing about being a woman in philosophy is hearing blatantly sexist remarks from some of my graduate student colleagues who defend these claims with what pretty much amounts to crack-pot style “scientific” reasoning. I have no idea why, for a select few, it’s such a critical thinking blind-spot: “Evolution selected women to be meek so that they will seem more attractive to men in power. That’s why you don’t find women in philosophy or government”; “Women can’t really understand philosophy because most of philosophy is written by men. Women only understand philosophy written by women. Men can’t. It’s not sexists because it works in both directions. Different hormones mean that you reason in different ways and you can’t change that. That’s why women have their own conferences.”; “There aren’t any women logicians. Yes, most people can’t do that kind of stuff but you only find men at the top of that bell curve. It’s a scientific fact and it has been verified but feminists make it impossible for the research to be widely accepted.”; “Women just aren’t intelligent enough to be interesting. I don’t know if it is nature or nurture but I simply haven’t met any really intelligent women. It’s probably nature because there are a few exceptions.”

These comments were spoken sincerely by different graduate students who all attend or have attended a ranked university in North America. While they aren’t incompetent philosophers in general, it should be said that I expect that none of them will probably end up holding research positions or end up making hiring decisions at top universities (hopefully). BUT! All are currently employed to teach philosophy and I imagine that all of them will continue to instruct, mentor and influence both men and women throughout their long careers and they will be teaching classes where issues pertaining to feminism and pseudo-science will invariably come up. If 9+ years of university training doesn’t make a difference, I have absolutely no idea what I could have said that would make an impact. (I actually bothered to have a long discussion with the Graduate student who offered up the first comment and he did concede that his theory wasn’t really compatible with certain fact about the number of women entering med school etc. A few weeks later, he was espousing that exact same junk “science” to someone else.)

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