This is absolutely minor in comparison to some of the horror stories I have read on this blog, but I think it speaks to some of the subtle ways in which philosophy can still be a man’s game.
Last summer, I presented at a prestigious conference in my field. The conference organizer (who is known for his strange sense of humor) wore a t-shirt with a slogan on it each day of the conference.
This would have seemed unprofessional enough in and of itself, even at a conference with a laid-back atmosphere. But two of the shirts he wore were extremely inappropriate, especially in a field in which women are underrepresented and often (inadvertently or even intentionally) made to feel uncomfortable.
One shirt read “That’s What She Said.” The other had a picture of a killer whale leaping over a wall while a boy stood underneath it (like in the movie Free Willy) with a speech bubble that said “Look at the size of that willy!”
I was amazed that this organizer showed such poor judgment. I am not easily offended, but it bothered me that the conference organizer, who was setting the tone for the entire conference, did so by wearing t-shirts with male-dominated sexually innuendo.