Women in Philosophy of Logic and Philosophical Logic

Catarina Dutilh Novaes sent the following important message to PHILOS-L last weekend, reposted here with her permission:

Dear all,

Recently (and admittedly very late!), I started thinking more seriously about the lack of gender balance in the areas in which I do most of my research, namely history and philosophy of logic and philosophical logic. What got me thinking was probably the (positive) noise being made at Feminist Philosophers. One of the issues raised by the Feminist Philosophers is the low proportion of women in most philosophy conferences (in particular as invited/keynote speakers); I realized that in the workshop I am organizing, there are only three women as speakers, including myself! So I think this is a matter that deserves further attention.

Richard Zach had a blog entry a while ago on the staggeringly low number of women publishing in the journals of the area (his data concerned the Journal of Philosophical Logic). From this sort of data it is all too easy to conclude that there simply aren’t enough women around working in (philosophy of) logic and philosophical logic so as to redress the imbalance seen in conference lineups. But here again the usual analysis applies: the lack of female speakers at such conferences reinforces the idea that the area is just not ‘for women’, which in turn does not encourage young female students to pursue interests they might have in the area. Absence of female keynote speakers may also be a discouraging factor for other female researchers to submit papers to such conferences. Sally Haslanger has a wonderful piece on how vicious these mechanisms can be, which can be found here: Changing the Ideology and Culture of Philosophy: Not by Reason (Alone)

So the purpose of this message now is to question the widespread impression that there are not (or very few) prominent female logicians and philosophers of logic, people with the standing to be keynote speakers at major conferences. I was thinking it might be useful to compile a list of such people, sort of a handy device that could help those organizing conferences in the area to ensure a better gender balance among the speakers. Please send me names off list, and I will post the results to the whole list once we have a significant number of names. Just to give you an idea of what I have in mind, here are some women that would obviously be on such a list: Juliet Floyd, Penelope Maddy, Gila Sher, Delia Graff Fara. I’m sure there are many more such talented women working in the philosophy of logic and philosophical logic, so I look forward to many reactions!


cdutilhnovaes at yahoo dot com

Please respond to Catarina at the email address above!

UPDATE: Results of the effort are collected “women in philosophy of logic and philosophical logic” on the Logic and Rational Interaction blog.

2 thoughts on “Women in Philosophy of Logic and Philosophical Logic

  1. Well… Not a matter of being a feminist or defending male, but I do think that work involving general research and science can be related as an activity that is more attractive to men then women. It is known that the sexes differences include some particular tastes for activities. For instance, men like fixing stuff then women while women are more found of other kinds of chores. Also, general long-term envolviment activities are more of the like of men, and thus we can think of research, you see?

  2. Sure, as a matter of fact, fewer women chose research careers in the sciences than men. But there is a wealth of evidence that these “choices” aren’t just made because of preferences for certain kinds of activities, but for a whole host of other reasons, most of which amount to explicit or implicit discrimination against women in science careers. Inviting proportionately fewer women to speak at conferences is one such form of discrimination which makes it harder for women to succeed in science careers (with the effect that they “choose” to pursue other careers). But specifically, do you honestly believe that “general long-term involvement activities” are more preferred by men than by women? I mean, come on. You might as well have asserted that women don’t have the attention span or dedication it takes to do research.

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