A positive story!

Posted: December 19, 2014 by jennysaul in Good news

I’m worried that negative stories drive women away from a field that badly needs them – and I don’t think that negative stories cover the whole spectrum of women’s experience in philosophy.

For my own part, I’m finishing my doctoral degree at a school that is decent but not extraordinary by any means. Throughout my educational career, I’ve always been respectfully treated by my professors and peers. I have had my ideas taken seriously in class and outside of class, been invited to participate in both student-led and faculty-led reading groups and present at conferences. I was not the only woman in my incoming class, but was often the only woman in classes. When this happened, I often did not notice this fact until well into the semester – whether other women were taking a class with me did not play a large role in how much the class material interested me or how I was treated as a student. For the most part, I enjoyed my classes, and when I didn’t, it was for reasons unrelated to being a woman (e.g. the professor was boring, the content was uninteresting to me, etc).

During the course of my studies, I got engaged and later married – there were no comments made by my peers or professors except congratulations. Since then, I have continued to be encouraged to publish, apply for tenure-track positions, and participate in conferences.

The only time I was treated inappropriately, it was by an elderly visiting lecturer who decided to be “flirtatious.” The professor who was hosting him was horribly embarrassed by his behavior, tried to extricate me from the situation (though of course, being the rather clueless person that I was, I thought that would be more awkward and I stuck around longer than necessary), and apologized profusely for it afterwards. I found my professor’s response and willingness to make amends for the situation laudable but unnecessary for me (the visiting professor had merely made an inappropriate comment).

Ultimately, philosophy is like any other profession: there are some jerks, and these people could make your life horrible if you end up working with them. The majority of people in the profession, though, are excellent, thoughtful, respectful people who make good friends and colleagues. And I’m pretty sure this goes for both women and men.

Comments are closed.