Brian Weatherson points us blogaholics to Julie Van Camp’s piece on the female-friendliness of the Philosophical Gourmet Report and philosophy graduate departments. (The piece is in the Spring 2004 APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy.) She notes a broad phenomenon that many of us find troubling, namely that “Philosophy remains the most male-dominated field of the humanities in the academy.”
My own experience with graduate students and junior faculty indicates that this troubling fact is changing, but perhaps that’s just because I’ve been lucky enough to be around female-friendly departments and areas of study, where the ratio of women to men is at, near, or in some cases even better than an even split. In any case, while some robust discussion of Van Camp’s piece is going on over at Weatherson’s blog, I wanted to raise a related fact that troubles me: as discouraging, gender-balance-wise, as the make-up of the profession is, the philosophical blogosphere seems even worse. Again, my evidence is only anecdotal, but we’ve seen very few female commentators on PEA Soup, and the ratio of female to male blog authors also seems disproportional. (That’s not to say that there are no female philosophers taking advantage of this medium, of course: Jessica Wilson is a blogger, for example.)
So this prompts two questions: why is this the case, and how might we change it? (Let me be the first to state the obvious: PEA Soup does not (yet) have any female contributors, a fact that will hopefully change as our roster expands.) One woman philosopher and feminist I know suggested that the philosophical blogosphere’s gender-imbalance might be a symptom of “boys and toys,” that is, that men tend to have more of a hankering for “toys” like blogs. I’m not sure I find that wholly convincing. After all, the philosophical blogosphere is booming right now, and it strikes me as an extremely rich resource for anyone doing philosophy. Blogging is a new way to make use of all of the benefits of the interpersonal side of philosophy, from testing new papers and arguments to finding references to meeting others with similar interests. It is, in many ways, like one very large discussion group.
Given that PEA Soup is concerned not only with ethics as an area of study, but also with the ethics of the profession, it seems that this site is a natural place for discussing these questions. If anyone out there has any diagnostic or reparative suggestions on the gender-imbalance of the philosophical blogosphere, please chime in.