How to Avoid Hiring a Feminist Philosopher: Some Helpful Tips
1. Never read any feminist philosophy so that you are not familiar with the journals in which feminist philosophers publish and then make it a necessary condition of your putting someone on the finalist list that you are familiar with the journals in which they publish.
2. Disqualify the feminists on the ground that their work is subpar. This will be tricky if also want to use the tactic described in 1. For if you use that tactic, you will reveal (by claiming that you are not familiar with any of the journals in which they publish) that you do not know the literature they are engaging and hence are not in a good position to evaluate their work.
3. Disqualify the feminists on the ground that they are a “poor fit” and “will not have anyone to talk to” in your department about their work. This can be tricky for two reasons. First, you might have trouble using this tactic if you use tactic 1. The reason is that if you are competent to evaluate their work for the purposes of rejecting them as finalists, then you qualify as someone who could talk to them about their work in a way that is useful to them. And if this so, your claim that “they will have no one to talk to” actually expresses a refusal on your part to talk to them.
The second tricky thing about this tactic is that there might be people in the meeting who work on feminism. This makes the “lack of fit” argument difficult to make. The problem is that if you are making the “lack of fit” case because you are ignorant of the fact that some of your colleagues work on feminism, then you are not informed enough about your colleagues’ research programs to make proclamations about the potential fit of job candidates. If you do know that your colleagues work on feminism, and you insist nonetheless that there is a “lack of fit,” then you reveal that you either 1) are coining a normative term of art (“lack of fit” means “works on something I find worthless”) or 2) believe that your colleagues who work on feminism are not worth talking to.
4. Disqualify candidates according to the lack of frequency with which the publish in “the top five generalist journals.” Here you will have to ignore the fact (which is admittedly hard to miss if you read said journals) that said journals rarely if ever publish in feminism. Also, you must ignore the fact that your criterion might be suspect due to the fact that these journals have been found to disproportionately publish male philosophers (and that some of them fail to use a fully anonymous review process—see “implicit bias” in 5 below.) Unfortunately, you will also have to avoid the entire philosophy-relevant blogosphere wherein this problem, and others, such as the low citation rates of women in these journals, has been widely discussed.
Be aware that this tactic for disqualifying candidates can get you into trouble in at least two ways. First, it is likely that some of the candidates that you want to be on the finalist list—friends, people who “seem smart”—will score poorly according to this criterion. So, be sure to talk about the “scores” of only those you wish to keep off of the list. If someone notices that some candidates that you favor score poorly in this regard, point out that those candidates, nevertheless, publish in the top journals in their field. If the person challenging you points out the feminist philosophers whom you want to keep off the list also publish in the top journals in their field, try reverting to 1 above.
Another issue is the research profiles of your colleagues who are present in the hiring meeting. Some of them will work in areas other than feminism, which rarely appear in the “top five generalist journals” (e.g., applied ethics, applied social philosophy, continental philosophy, Buddhist philosophy, Indian philosophy, Chinese philosophy, experimental philosophy, environmental philosophy, philosophy of medicine, philosophy of music and philosophy of film, to name a few). They might find your criterion of little value. You might go ahead and bring it up anyway and risk insulting them. For one, they might value collegiality so much that they won’t call you on this in the meeting. Or, they might just sit in stunned silence not knowing how to respond. Or, alternatively, they might inexplicably support the values of those who occupy the center, not minding at all that those are the very values that place them in the margin.
5. If you want to propose with a straight face that you are disqualifying a disproportionate number of women from the finalist pool (which is an effective means of removing the feminist philosophers from said pool) strictly on the basis of merit, you will have to remain ignorant of the studies on implicit bias and the extensive discussion of said studies within the profession, including sessions at professional meetings and entire conferences organized around this theme. Maintaining this ignorance will require, too, that you avoid the entire philosophy-related blogosphere. You will also have to refrain from reading the NYT and the Chronicle of Higher Education and you absolutely cannot log on to facebook if you have very many philosophy friends.
6. When you propose rejecting almost all of the women in the candidate pool, it is essential that you express regret about this. You could say, for example, that it is a shame that so few women are making it to the finalist list. Of course, what is really true is that you are choosing to keep them off of the list, producing through your own choices the happening that you are assessing from the third person point of view as “a shame.” Perhaps no one will notice that this shameful happening could be prevented by you.