“I saw this coming”

Posted: June 30, 2013 by Jender in failure to perceive problem, failure to take women seriously

I’m not a philosopher, but this involves an interaction with a male philosopher colleague (who was forever happening to mention that PHILOSOPHY IS LIKE MATH AND PHYSICS in the gender ratios of its faculty). He called me one day because he was supporting the postdoctoral application of someone whom I’d known in grad school. He had to write a letter justifying why she was the right candidate to select for the position, but he didn’t know her or her work well at the time.

So I said, “well, you know, her work seems trendy now, but when she started her doctoral research project it wasn’t — she was quite an outlier and picked up on something to which few people were paying scholarly attention at the time. You might want to emphasize that in your letter”.

A few months go by, the postdoc comes to our institution, does very well, gets competing TT offers halfway through her time here. Male philosopher runs into me, we are talking about the postdoc and her success, and he says to me, “You know, I saw this coming. I said in my letter of support for her that although her work now seems trendy, at the time she started her doctoral research it wasn’t, and she really picked up on something to which few people were paying scholarly attention at the time”.

Not quite a “failure to cite” story, but in the same universe.

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