Why Aren’t Women in Philosophy?

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Every few months, I either see or am sent an article about the relationship between women and philosophy. I’m always happy to discuss almost anything- but I’m a little perplexed as to the mystery behind the question; “why aren’t women in philosophy?”.

I should say, I’m not an expert on femaleness. I barely understand my Natasha-ness. But here’s my two cents (I was waiting for a flight so excuse my irritability. Wrote this as a Facebook post but wanted to journal this thought):

It’s a little like a B rated fast food joint-with good food-wondering why it can’t get more female and minority customers…when the online reviews are bad, when the lines are stupidly long, when you’ve been told there’s a good chance you’ll be harassed both in line and if you meet the employees, when you meet good employees but they consistently tell you the wait isn’t worth it unless you really want it, when the cost is expensive, and when you (as a woman or monitory) are told when you get to the front the employees will probably ignore you (intentionally or not) and pick the male customers behind you. On top of that-just for good measure-when you do get your order there’s a good chance you’ll get food poisoning. 

Given that there are other options, most rational people would chose another option…since there are better options. There are a few of us who just really, really like the food. And then there are the women and minorities who really, really, really like the food. And then a lucky few of us who know good people within the field who help us get through the shitty lines.

When your prospects for a decent job after six long years of intensive graduate studies is at best precarious unless you go to a top program, when quite a few talented students from middle class and lower income backgrounds are burdened with crippling student loan debt from undergraduate studies and can’t postpone payments for years (and then MAYBE have a job that can pay that plus living costs), when increasingly the masters route is given as the go to (when a masters in philosophy doesn’t have a lot of value above the undergraduate degree in and of itself AND you have to pay for it), when the mantra seems to be “don’t do it”, when the institution seems to trip over its feet when it’s presented with problems-mostly imo because quite a few of the people within academia have the life skills of a pre-teen (and a lot of the time act like it), and then after dealing with all of that you’re told your work won’t be respected or valued and there’s a good chance you’ll be harassed, just because you’re a minority and/or a woman-what intelligent person, especially from a middle to lower class background, would be rational to chose philosophy when almost anything else would on paper be a better risk for investment in terms time, intellect, economic prosperity, and frankly personal safety.
Philosophy is a privilege at its best, and at its worst like a bad retirement home.

But no, you’re right. I have no clue why philosophy can’t get more quality people. The mystery persists.

 

On the painting: I’m learning to watercolor. The painting included is a painting I worked on during a trip. Amateur, but I’m having a lot of fun with it.

 

-Natasha Haddal

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