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Department of Philosophy

DIG Proposals

Diversity and Inclusion Group Proposals

Originally developed March 2014, revised February 2015

Prepared by the Diversity and Inclusion Group

1. Context and motivation

a. The representation of women in academia, at every level, is a topic of increasing contemporary visibility and concern at the institutional, disciplinary, national, and international levels.

b. Alongside the obvious intrinsic importance of the topic, several institutional and disciplinary developments lend the topic special urgency.

c. Durham University is currently undertaking a major review of its equality and diversity policies and practices. Two departments (Anthropology and Geography) are participating in pilot Gender Equality Mark (GEM) scheme; other departments will follow in the future. The University has or will establish: a Women’s Staff Network; the Aurora program to support women in senior roles; an Unconscious Bias module for senior managers; a Dean, and Action Group, for Diversity and Equality. Other developments are being planned.

d. Several professional associations for the discipline of philosophy have launched projects and initiatives aimed at improving the representation of women. These include the British Philosophical Association; the American Philosophical Association (APA) Committee on the Status of Women; the Australasian Association of Philosophy; and the Societies for Women in Philosophy (SWIP) in Australasia, Canada, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, and USA. There has also been substantial widespread media interest in gender imbalance in philosophy and, in recent months, a number high-profile cases of sexual harassment that are damaging to the ethical and professional integrity and public perception of academic philosophy.

e. It is therefore important that the Department take the initiative in establishing its own measures for improving the representation of women in philosophy.

2. Summary

a. The Department of Philosophy recognises that there are systematic obstacles to the participation and representation of women in academic philosophy at undergraduate, postgraduate, and career level. Measures therefore ought to be taken to remove these obstacles, and to ensure that the Department offers a welcoming and inclusive professional environment where staff, students, and visitors are recognised, respected, and able to participate freely and fully.

b. This document provides data on the representation of women in several aspects of the teaching and research activities of the Department, and offers proposals for its improvement.

3. Organisation. Proposals

a. To form a Diversity and Inclusion Group (DIG) to take the lead on researching, developing, and assessing the success of proposals for the improvement of the representation of women in the Department at all levels. This remit ought to include sensitivity to other factors that reinforce and amplify discrimination and prejudice (e.g. age, race).

b. To accept Professor Helen Beebee (Philosophy, Manchester; SWIP UK) as DIG’s External Advisor.

c. To send an email invitation to participate in DIG to (i) all PG students, (ii) all staff members, (iii) the Philosophical Society President, (iv) the Staff-Student Consultative Committee Secretary, and (v) the Feminist Society President.

d. To consult as and when necessary with the University’s Diversity and Equality Advisory Group.

4. Gender balance and representation.


a. To commit to an on-going policy of working for as-good-as-possible gender equality in (i) the weekly research seminar series, (ii) the Royal Institute of Philosophy lecture series, (iii) events organised, (iv) module curricula, (v) reading lists, (vi) open days and similar events and (vii) other relevant areas (e.g. website masthead).

b. To publicly state and detail our various policies on the departmental webpage and communicate them to SWIP and the ‘What We’re Doing About What It’s Like’ blog.

5. Weekly research seminars and Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures


a. To commit to ensuring that 50% of the speakers in the WRS schedule for the academic year 2014-2015 are women of both junior and senior rank. The WRS/RIP organiser and DIG would ensure this.

b. To commit to ensuring that 50% of the speakers in the RIP schedule for the academic year 2014-2015 are women. The WRS/RIP organiser and DIG would ensure this.


c. Statistics (taken from the Departmental Research Seminars Manual).

2007-2008 40% 8/20 1/2 RIP

2008-2009 27% 4/15 0/2 RIP

2009-2010 20% 5/25 0/3 RIP

2010-2011 16% 4/24 0/5 RIP

2011-2012 35% 8/23 1/5 RIP

2012-2013 14% 3/21 0/4 RIP

2013-2014 35% 6/17 0/2 RIP




d. The representation of women in weekly research seminars is still low and subject to significant year-by-year fluctuation.

2007-2008 40% 8/20

1/2 RIP

2008-2009 27% 4/15

0/2 RIP

2009-2010 20% 5/25

0/3 RIP

2010-2011 16% 4/24

0/5 RIP

2011-2012 35% 8/23

1/5 RIP

2012-2013 14% 3/21

0/4 RIP

2013-2014 35% 6/17

0/2 RIP

e. A significant percentage of invited WRS speakers tend to be either current members or alumni of the department (e.g. 25% between 2005-2011). This is partly due to the recently introduced tradition of inviting newly submitted or viva-ed postgraduates to speak at the WRS.

f. The WRS seminar series is poorly representative of women philosophers in general, and of junior women philosophers in particular.

g. The representation of women in the RIP lectures is extremely poor: only two since 2007, so 8%, and notably, both had prior connections to the Department (Nancy Cartwright, Mary Midgley).

h. The WRS/RIP organiser (Peter Vickers) has begun to notify the Department of latent gender biases in the suggestions received so far.

6. Conferences and workshops.


a. To formally state our departmental commitment to the robust representation of women in departmental research events and to advertise this on the departmental webpage.

b. To commit to ensuring that departmental events are gender-balanced as best as possible (e.g. by setting meaningful targets for proportion of women speakers; proscribing male-only line-ups; taking active efforts to identify women speakers; establishing protected PG sessions; offering women speakers first refusal of WRS slots).

c. To commit to offering both practical assistance and financial support for arranging childcare facilities for any WRS, RIP, or other speaker who might require them.

d. To commit to adopting ‘good practice’ advice from BPA, SWIP, and other organisations (e.g. ensuring standardised introductions for men and women speakers; taking a five-minute break between WRS talks and the discussion to give time for formulating questions).


e. Example - gender balance of events organised by IJK: this has been low, albeit with recent improvement. 2012 Wittgenstein on Scientism 1/8 12.5% 2013 Unconceived Alternatives & Scientific Realism 2/11 18% 2014 Faith, Trust, and Religious Belief 2/6 33%

f. Event Durham confirms that they do not provide childcare facilities. They suggest contacting the University Nursery or hiring a local child-minder. At certain events in the past, departmental postgraduates have worked as paid child-minders, but such support is not typically offered as standard and such ad hoc provisions are insufficient as they stand.

7. Teaching.


a. To commit to robust inclusion of women philosophers in the curricula, reading lists (including primary and secondary sources, set tutorial readings, etc.), visual aids, etc., of undergraduate and postgraduate modules. This includes the department’s historical modules. (So, e.g., not simply adding texts by women philosophers to reading lists). This will take the form of a Gender Balance Module Questionnaire for module leaders to complete and return to the Department Education Committee.1

b. To propose the inclusion of feminist perspectives in modules that relate to disciplines where feminist perspectives have been, and continue to be, influential (e.g. philosophy of science, moral philosophy, political philosophy, philosophy of religion).

c. To commit to including a session on implicit bias in the Undergraduate Philosophical Skills Seminar series.

d. To propose that module slides and handbooks (for those that use them) include photographs of women philosophers. (SWIP indicate that images are especially effective in combating implicit bias and stereotype threat).

e. To propose holding an annual2 workshop addressing issues such as work-life balance, gender and career advancement, and other practical and professional issues, to include both internal and external speakers.


f. The history and discipline of philosophy is male-dominated and this can make the identification of suitable women philosophers difficult; however, it does not make the task impossible, and there are many resources and strategies available, including those listed in ‘References and Sources’ below.

g. The list of ‘Recent Undergraduate Dissertations’ on the departmental website is quite representative: twenty out of the forty-nine theses listed are by female students (41%).

8. Training and support.


a. To design and implement a climate survey for postgraduate students.3

1 This sentence added February 2015.

2 The word ‘annual’ added February 2015.

3 The word ‘annual’ added February 2015.

b. To invite a senior women professor from another arts and humanities department to informally and confidentially interview female postgraduates about department climate and to report back to the BoS for discussion.

c. To establish a confidential first point of contact within the Department for students who wish to report and discuss gender-related issues that are negatively impacting their studies. (e.g. climate, harassment). Currently CMC.

d. To propose a dedicated session for female undergraduates considering postgraduate study, including representation from as many stages of postgraduate study and academic career as possible. (Data shows that the ‘leakiest pipe’ for advancement of women occurs between UG and PG levels).

e. To introduce regular4 training on implicit bias and stereotype threat for fulltime staff. (The University is already introducing an IB module for senior managers).

f. To practice anonymous marking at all levels, and maintain anonymity in determining degree classification, as far as practically possible.

g. To invite visiting senior women philosophers to meet with female postgraduates to confidentially discuss professional issues relating women in philosophy.

h. To propose the formation of a regular and informal group for women philosophers, staff and postgraduates. The department could provide modest financial support (e.g. refreshments).

i. To commit to ensuring that departmental training for postgraduate tutors includes explanation of the phenomena of implicit gender bias and stereotype threat, and how to counteract them.

j. To commit to encouraging women postgraduates to take advantage of the SWIP/BPA mentoring scheme:

9. Hiring and promotion.


a. To ensure anonymisation of all applications for temporary and permanent jobs and fellowships (e.g. Addison Wheeler, Leverhulme, etc.).

b. To ensure that hiring panels include at least one, and preferably more than one, woman, unless there are exceptional practical reasons why this is impossible.

4 The words ‘introduce regular’ added February 2015.

c. To agree specific hiring criteria, and their weighting, in advance and stick to these.

d. To commit to reassessing criteria for staff promotion so as to take account of various forms of leave (parental, bereavement, sickness and mental health leave), as well as personal circumstances that may lead to a reduction in publication output over a sustained period (for example, where an individual has unpaid caring responsibilities). We need to establish, where publication output is a heavily weighted diagnostic criterion for promotion, whether such individuals should be promoted later than their peers.

10. Additional proposals.


a. To propose the addition of a section on women in philosophy/DIG/etc. on the departmental webpage including details of policies in place, links to relevant organisations (e.g. SWIP) and so on.

b. To propose replacement of the photographs and pictures of (non-staff) philosophers around the Department building (e.g. those in the ground-floor corridor between 50 and 51 Old Elvet). These are almost all-male, as well as being old, tired, and hardly attractive and could be replaced by colour pictures of distinguished philosophers – men and women – from a variety of areas of philosophy. The APA Committee on the Status of Women have produced a series of merchandise, including posters, under the ‘Got Women?’ brand (see This would require funds for purchasing or printing high-colour photographs, and perhaps for framing them; but, given that such decorations are only updated every decade or so and can be taken to any new buildings we might occupy in the future, this seems acceptable.

References and sources

• The Society for Women in Philosophy

• The Bias Project at the University of Sheffield.

• Feminist Philosophers blog

• ‘What Is It Like To Be A Woman In Philosophy?’ blog

• ‘What We’re Doing About What It’s Like’ blog

• The Gendered Conference Campaign

• Women of Philosophy (database of women philosophers)

• Video-recorded lecture by Jennifer Saul on implicit bias, stereotype threat, and women

in academia

• SWIP’s examples of women-friendly philosophy departments.

• American Philosophical Association (APA) Committee on the Status of Women

• Australasian Association of Philosophy project: ‘Improving the Representation of

Women in the Philosophy Profession’

• The (US) History of Science Society Women’s Caucus