The colour of philosophy

Diagram of the gown, hood and bonnet used in g...

Diagram of the gown, hood and bonnet used in graduation/presentation ceremonies of Ph.D’s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Academic philosophy in the United States has a diversity problem.

No other discipline of comparable size in the humanities is as gender-skewed as philosophy. Women still receive only about 28% of philosophy PhDs in the United States, and are still only about 20% of full professors of philosophy — numbers that have hardly budged since the 1990s. And among U.S. citizens and permanent residents receiving philosophy PhDs in this country, 86% are non-Hispanic white. The only comparably-sized disciplines that are more white are the ones that explicitly focus on the European tradition, such as English literature.


“Being good at seeming smart is perhaps the central disciplinary skill for philosophers. [!]”

3 thoughts on “The colour of philosophy

  1. “Whether a work is even read as a work of philosophy — rather than literature, religion, or journalism — depends partly on the author’s social position and whether its topic and writing style fit disciplinary expectations. Potentially interesting work is disqualified, on unclear grounds, before the question of “good or meh” even arises.” Myisha Cherry.

    Doing a course in communications for adult education in my fifties I learned that adult students were just about tolerated by instructors in departments outside of adult education. The lesson in this class was creating a lesson on any subject for adults using the tools prescribed and in the time allowed. Mine was on writing a poem from your own thoughts, experiences, that are important to you. After I did my presentation the instructor said she doesn’t like poetry!

    I was instantly dismissed in class. I knew then that nothing I could do would win good marks, but it was a very valuable lesson in my life. To what extent do I need the approval of the academy, who is the authority on my intelligence or skills, and will it make me happy to get a degree. I did get my degree but I didn’t get a long term, full time job.

    What I did have was a retirement plan from my husband who worked in engineering sales, which allowed me the privilege to use this time and money to learn how to be human. I really feel for those who are starting out and for those who feel their worth depends on how they compare with others in the world.


  2. Some of my most interesting classes were ones with a mix of students: young, old, retired, loggers, doctors, philosophy majors, and esl students. All had something of importance to add to the experience of the classroom.

    Liked by 1 person

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