Women, Children, and Philosophy

Why are women only 21% of faculty in philosophy compared to 41% in the humanities overall? See links on the SWIP page for thoughts on this question as well as a post on Lemmings. Here’s an additional possibility: Might it be that conventional philosophy in America styles itself more like the sciences than like the humanities? And we know how women fare in the sciences.

And of this 21% why is it when I go to academic conferences so few of the accomplished women scholars there have children? Is it that women in philosophy largely decide not to have children? Or is it the other way around — that having children with the usual division of labor makes it incredibly tough to teach, write, and travel? Is it that the women philosophers who are parents drop out of the profession more or simply can’t get away to go to conferences? There are amazing counterexamples, including two brilliant feminist theorists, one a Foucault scholar and another a Merleau-Ponty scholar each with four or more children! How do they do it? Probably with immense help from their partners, for the profession itself, and its societies, does very little in the way of providing childcare at conferences. How does philosophy compare to other disciplines? What factors make a difference?

By Noelle McAfee

I am professor of philosophy at Emory University and editor of the Kettering Review. My latest book, Fear of Breakdown: Politics and Psychoanalysis, explores what is behind the upsurge of virulent nationalism and intransigent politics across the world today. My other writings include Democracy and the Political Unconscious; Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship; Julia Kristeva; and numerous articles and book chapters. Edited volumes include Standing with the Public: the Humanities and Democratic Practice and a special issue of the philosophy journal Hypatia on feminist engagements in democratic theory. I am also the author of the entry on feminist political philosophy in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and well into my next book project on democratic public life.


  1. In regard to your statement that “we know how women fare in the sciences,” I think that there is more to say–perhaps that this is how women used to fare in the sciences. Of course I would grant that women do still have a hard time in the sciences–there is plenty of anecdotal evidence in blogs to validate that. But it’s not as bad as it used to be, due to concerted efforts. They get explicit support at all stages of the pipeline, from elementary school on up through graduate school and into teaching careers.

    As evidence, the figures for female college graduates in biology are now over 50%. In science overall, they’ve been climbing, even in the more male-dominated areas like engineering. Every single issue of Science, the publication of the AAAS, has articles focused on supporting women and families.

    In contrast, philosophy’s professional organizations pay little attention to the wretchedly low numbers of women that graduate with philosophy majors or that go on to teach in higher education. I think the trend in philosophy is analogous to the trend in computer science, which is the only area of STEM that has actually seen participation by women hold static or decline.

  2. Noelle, I was wondering, are there statistics to back up your view that most (accomplished) women philosophers don’t have children? (I realize that there probably aren’t any that factor accomplishments into account) I’m not awareof anything that looks specifically at this and it would be interesting to know.

  3. I think these are very interesting questions. In a narrative vein, there is some discussion of this in the current APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy that I guest edited. The general topic is Family Matters in the Profession. There is general evidence that women academics with children fall behind in rank, but this includes women in the sciences. Jean Keller’s contribution to the Newsletter has some references for relevant to this question. I have copied them below.

    1. Mary Ann Mason and Marc Goulden. “Do Babies Matter (Part II)? Academe 90.6 (Nov. 2004a): 10-15.

    2. Mary Ann Mason and Marc Goulden. “Do Babies Matter? The Effect of Family Formation on the Lifelong Careers of Academic Men and Women.” Academe 2002. http://www.aaup.org/publications/Academe Accessed 14 Feb. 2006.

    3. Mary Ann Mason and Marc Goulden. “Marriage and Baby Blues: Redefining Gender Equity in the Academy.” Annals, AAPSS 596 (Nov. 2004b).

    4. Mason and Goulden, “Do Babies Matter?” 2002.

  4. As I was coding pages for women philosophers in the period 1500 – 2000 CE, I was struck by the number of women who not only had children [or who married widowers with children] but also at how large the families were…. 3, 8, 12 children and still the women worked in philosophy.

    I was also struck that the university of Bologna made ‘accommodations’ so a woman philosopher with a many children could continue to teach….could be chair of the dept etc. [And I had thought that ‘accommodation’ was a 20th century thing..

    I do not have the statistics about the % of women with children getting Ph.D’s [in all fields] vs. women without children getting Ph.D’s or even the data for philosophy so I can not comment about that. But I have been struck that the historical record offers sooooo many remarkable women philosophers, some with serious health and/or economic issues – women who worked out so many different living
    arrangements……and who did philosophy.

    I wish they were better known. For me they are such signs of encouragement.

    Glad you have this blog….I shall read it more often.



  5. Another thought. –

    Perhaps one of the reasons why there are so few women in philosophy is that there has been so little of the tradition of women philosophers talked about in philosophy classes.

    There have been web sites on women in science, women in mathematics, women authors etc. for over 20 years. How many know that Socrates said he learned philosophy form 3 different women, that Descartes owed so much to a woman philosopher’s comment on his work that he dedicated his Meditations to her or that the distinction between science and natural philosophy is founded in the work of a woman philosopher etc.

    If you know there is a tradition of women in a field, the field seems easier to enter. It is hard to contemplate being a pioneer????? Just a thought.


  6. Descartes dedicated his Principles of Philosophy not his Meditations to Princess Elizabeth. She was unmarried and childless and her interest in philosphy seems to have dwindled as she became Abbess of an Abbey in Herford.

  7. I was teaching in Japan last spring at the Univ of Tokyo. My students were simply flabbergasted that I am married and have children. This seemed to be not only because I was teaching feminist philosophy, but also because it was so rare for their women professors to have children. Then I started thinking about western countries more carefully. Many of my women friends in philosophy do have children, but i have no clue about the data overall.

    I really wish that some empirically oriented folks would study this across the disciplines. I would have thought that scientists who need to be in the lab would have a more difficult time balancing children with everything else. At least those of us in the humanities just need our computers, time, quiet spaces, etc. (Of course, i acknowledge the support/recruiting programs in the sciences)

  8. To Margaret’s question, I should have said relatively few, not simply few, accomplished women in philosophy that have children show up at conferences. I mean in comparison to other professional women as well as women in the sciences and the humanities. It seems — and I well may be wrong — that there is some difference here. So, with Ann, I think it would be great to get some empirical studies.

  9. I should have said that I did not intend my remarks about Princess Elizabeth to be a criticism of Kate’s wonderful project. (Merely a knee jerk reaction from an historian)

  10. I think an interesting question would be how many male philosophers have children and if so, how they manage to do this? Very quickly we would uncover the depressing fact that despite years of feminism, it is still the women who are assumed as being responsible for childcare. When I returned to work my (now-ex) husband was surprised when I said the childcare costs should be met out of his salary. I said that it was ok, I would go to work anyway and he could work out how he was going to go to work seeing as the children needed to be looked after. He saw the point quite quickly after that.

    i like the idea of a women in philosophy website – when are you going to set one up? 🙂

  11. Hi,

    Yet another former philosopher, full-time mom here. Yes, I’d agree with the general sentiment that something has to give in the picture (usually the sanity of the woman in question) and the solution is to scale-down, so to speak.
    Academia is so personal time-oriented, with much of it accomplished out of the classroom through research, writing, conferencing,etc. I could not imagine all those responsibilities and small children. Personally, I consider myself a former professional woman like Anne Crittenden, who said of her own choice to stay home, “I didn’t wait this long to have children just to hand them over to someone else.”
    It’s a shame, ultimately, though – I agree. But I will return to the professional world when my children are school age. Yet I have no illusions about how limited my options will be.
    Finally, who’s to say a philosopher mother can’t be practicing philosophy outside the academic world – i.e., with her own children? As a feminist vegetarian lefty, my boys have gotten a better education in these areas than most high schoolers!

  12. I have also been concerned about this issue for many years. When my children were born, my plan was to be an ‘integrationist’, to take my children to work and to continue with thinking and being with them, doing philosophy as itself maternal work. But when they actually arrived, what struck me most powerfully was the sheer impossibility (for me, anyway – my mother claims it wasn’t like this for her!) of holding onto a chain of thought whilst being properly attentive/responsive/really there for my children and ready to meet their needs.

    I would get absorbed in my work and impatient and distant with my children, or I would get happily absorbed in them (more rarely!), and lose interest in the work.

    I think this is surely a fact about intellectual work – although of course the experiences of motherhood give one a perspective on the world, and a rich resource of distinctive experiences, which make excellent material for philosophical reflection/speculation/analysis, when one is *actually doing* the mothering, philosophy is impossible.

    I would be interested to know others thoughts on ‘integration’ vs ‘separation’ of maternal from philosophical work – especially if anyone has found a form of professional philosophical practice that really does include their children. (as opposed to fit around them, which is what I learned to do in the end, and what it seems to me most wip do, ie ‘pass’ as childless when they’re at work/conferences etc).

  13. I do worry sometimes about how much of an impact is felt by students in terms of not talking about female philosophers. I do teach about Princess Elizabeth’s objections to Descartes and their dialogue in my Intro course.

    I like the idea of putting together a website or a book of ancient female philosophers. Or even a museum, that would be fun.

    I wonder how much of this, though, also has to do with admissions committees and hiring committees. I heard (and I don’t have a citation for this, but anecdotal evidence would support it) that there are more female than male majors in undergrad, but then at every step of the way, there end up being fewer women. It would appear that many women as children end up working as adjuncts or at community colleges, where there is less opportunity to do research and leave your mark, so to speak.

    As an aside, the NASPP conference this year boasted a man who presented a paper on Dr Seuss with his daughter, and at least one woman who brought her child with her.

    When Christina Hoff Sommers came to speak to A&M, I asked her the following question: if her claim is true that women are better at writing and men are better at thinking analytically, why is it that we see such a pronounced lack of female philosophers, since philosophy is the sort of field that requires all of these skills? Her answer was to say something along the lines of, “women are more likely to do value theory, and men are more likely to do epistemology and metaphysics.” I still don’t understand how that answers the question….

  14. As a prospective philosophy graduate student (I’m applying this winter!) and hopeful future “philosopher mother”, I’d just like to express my appreciation to women philosophers who share their thoughts and stories related to this topic. Even though being reminded of the gender inequality in the profession and of the difficulties of integrating this particular career with motherhood always initially disheartens and discourages me, becoming aware of these things helps me to get a realistic perspective of what being a professional philosopher might entail and gears me up to try and “beat the system” and to work with others to transform it.

  15. Soran’s remarks are so perfect — at least at expressing what I feel almost all the time! I’m either absorbed in my work — often at home when the kids (ages 7 and 9) are at home, or absorbed with my kids, less often than I’d like. I also travel a lot for my work, which is becoming increasingly tough on all of us. But would I change any of this, really? No. I’m hoping that I’m teaching a love for doing good work.

    For Katharine and other students, I think it is well worth pointing out that the academic life really is good for working and raising children in so far as our schedules, if not always our mindful attention, are wonderfully flexible.

  16. Well, as a bechilded male philosopher, I don’t know whether it’s appropriate for me to comment here, but on the narrow issue of attending conferences I think that it might be worth mentioning some other dynamics that might also be going on (note ‘also’ – I’m certainly not claiming this is the whole story, or that it’s more important )

    1.) I’d be surprised if it wasn’t also true that male academics with (especially young) children go to fewer conferences than their child-free peers. Given the choice between spending time with my children and yet more with my professional peers….well, you get the point, I hope.

    2.) I’m sure that there are female academics who simply ‘don’t have time’ to go to conferences. But I’d be surprised if there weren’t also a number who could perhaps go, but choose not to, because they feel that other ways of spending their time and energy are more worthwhile. (cf 1 above, but in spades)

    I’d like to emphasise that neither of these points (and especially the second) are intended to suggest that there’s no problem here.

    On a more constructive note: to what extent might the problem be combatted by – eg – making a serious attempt to provide creche/childcare facilities at conferences, or simply by making conference schedules a bit less punishing…

  17. Hi all,

    This is a fascinating question, well worth pursuing. I’d like to make just a couple of points:

    1) It’s not just a problem of how academic work is structured and what kinds of demands it makes; it’s also a problem of how parenting is currently constructed, and what kinds of demands it makes. In my humble opinion, the way motherhood is currently constructed — and no matter how much we refer to parenthood, the demands still fall all too heavily on the moms — is far more oppressive, guilt-ridden (whether one stays at home or not), and demanding than previous constructions. There are at the very least two institutions here that need revamping.

    2) In some ways, I have been struck by the level of flexibility I have as a professor in a teaching-oriented university (which does have some, but not excessive, research requirements). I have an amazing amount of autonomy. If my kid gets sick, I can cancel my class, and as long as it doesn’t happen more than two or three times in a semester, it’s not a problem. I’ve arranged to have a teaching schedule that is heavily weighted toward the mornings, so when the daycare has a half day, I can rearrange my work. Now, obviously, none of this is easy, and the work has to be done sometime. And not all philosophers find themselves in such congenial circumstances! But in some ways, I think my academic profession is one of the most flexible ones open to women.

    3) I think, of course, that choosing to stay at home with one’s kids is a most reasonable option, and there are times when I envy those families that do have one parent at home. It really simplifies things. But I have to state the obvious: why is it still the case that professional women consider such an interruption to their career a real possibility upon the arrival of children — a possibility that most men don’t really take seriously? And we can’t ignore the fact that doing so often renders women more economically dependent on their partners.

    Ah, more to say, but I’ve already gone on too long!

  18. Soran’s comment prompts me to wonder about *styles* of mothering, and how those might affect the extent to which women can have careers in philosophy. I have six children, myself, and I don’t think I was quite as attentive to their every need as, for instance, my oldest daughter is to my granddaughter’s needs. I guess I figured that once they grew past babyhood, there were plenty of other adults around to help me look after them, and I was positive it didn’t hurt them to look after themselves as well. I have this intuition, though, that mothering styles have changed since the women of my generation were doing that work, and that the current generation of hands-on mothers (middle-class mothers, anyway) spends more time and energy on it than we did.

  19. The Mommy Myth (Suzanne Douglas and Meredith Michaels) says it all about current mothing expectations. Although even doing it 25 years ago, I often felt like a cruel stepmother (expecting them to make their own school lunches) in comparison with some of my (non-philosopher) colleagues. Probably one of the only ways we could get at the question why female philosophers seem to have fewer children would be to circulate a questionnaire.

  20. I am a graduate student interested in studying feminist epistemology with specific attention to its connections/implications for family and kinship relations (including queer and chosen forms of kinship). In beginning this project, I have been surprised at the relatively small amount of rigorous philosophic work on family and kinship. It seems that if you are doing work on family it is assumed that you are actually doing anthropology or sociology, etc., rather than philosophy. I am worried that part of the difficulty of being a mother and a philosopher stems from this implicit assumption that, aside from feminist and social theory, the family is not concerned a legitimate domain for philosophic inquiry. I think this only further exacerbates the troubling reality of the gender roles concern that many have cited here. Perhaps, though, I am just not as familiar with the literature as I might be. I would be very interested in hearing what other more “veteran” philosophers have to say about this.

  21. Hi, Elisia! You’re right–there’s not a great deal of philosophical work in this area. One of the things that really blows me away, still, about Sara Ruddick’s _Maternal Thinking_ is its matter-of-fact assumption that the work of mothering was worthy of epistemological investigation. You might take a look at a book Jim Nelson and I wrote (I was Hilde Nelson at the time) called _The Patient in the Family_. There’s also Narayan and Bartkowiak, eds., _Having and Raising Children_, Graham and LaFollette, eds., _Person to Person_, Hanigsberg and Ruddick, eds., _Mother Troubles_, Cheshire Calhoun’s _Feminism, Family, and the Politics of the Closet_, Nelson, ed., _Feminism and Families_, Haslanger and Witt, eds., _Adoption Matters_. Those are off the top of my head (actually, off the bookcase in my office). Say hi to Betsy for me!

  22. A quick response to Elisia Taylor’s post… I will be very interested in the results of your research once it comes out. I think that you are picking up on a very real phenomenon characterized by philosophical investigations which bear on women as a class or which consider the roles of women in a social system being classed as feminist philosophy or not-philosophy. My sociologist colleagues do not seem to be under the impression that studying maternal-child or wife-husband interactions is “feminist sociology.” That said, Engels (as in, Marx and…) wrote on the family in philosophical terms and I am not under the impression that he is considered a feminist philosopher, though he is clearly radical.

    As to the issue of having children while in the profession and especially with current mothering standards, I can speak to this at a phenomenological level. I am a Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University and, at the risk of outing myself while on the market (though to a likely-friendly audience), I have two children. My first is three years old, and my second is 11 weeks old.

    I have found that the modern standards of mothering I encounter are quite intensive by comparison with the demands felt by my mother, my mother-in-law, or even my grandmother-in-law (who famously turned the playpen upside down so she could read under it while her 4 kids ran the house). I confess that this is in no small part due to media pressures: glossy parenting magazines, parenting websites, material that comes by mail unsolicited to the parents of young children, and contacts with other parents through daycare settings all present models–both real and artificial–of women who are professionals and bake elaborately frosted layer cakes with bags of homemade party treats for their child’s in-school birthday celebration. I made muffins. Does that make me a bad mother? No, but I had to do my very best divided-consciousness self-therapy to feel good about it. But that’s just how we express our love for and dedication to our children, some of which is as much for other parents and teachers as it is for our kids. What of the demands of proper parenting, and parenting style (see Hilde Lindemann’s post, above)?

    These are extremely high. One reason, I believe, is the use of developmental psychology and information on child development in constructing paradigms of mothering involvement. Whether in the glossy magazines, in newspapers, on the websites, or in material sent home from daycare, we are barraged with information, some normative, about:
    – how to reduce separation anxiety (the very term makes ME anxious)
    – co-sleeping
    – the risks of co-sleeping
    – attachment parenting
    – the risks of attachment parenting
    – the risks of watching television before age 2
    – the dangers of unsupervised play, even with “age-appropriate” toys
    – disciplinary techniques that are highly involved and more demanding than, it seems, they used to be
    – how to construct a child who will be empathetic, have good manners, like science, not hate math, ad infinitum

    Information is excellent, but all this information presses one toward constant hands-on deliberate interventionist parenting. I have the phenomenological experience of parenting as both the joy of interacting with my children and the terror of having to prevent the next terrible thing that may happen to hurt my child or turn him into a moral monster… or even *gasp* someone with a poor work ethic. The former wins; the latter bears.

    Now, because I can’t ever stop thinking, parenting is intensely philosophical for me. Every time I look at Parents Magazine, it’s like the teen girls magazine deconstruction I did for my very first women’s studies course; that the reader is female is implicit in every article and often explicit. Parents Magazine actually has a page (just one) called “For Dads.”

    Parenting is intensely philosophical in other ways, as well. When my son saw the mast being removed from a 20′ sailboat and asked “is it still a sailboat with its sail off?” you can bet your bottom dollar that my heart sang “la.” Every time he asks regressive “why” questions (where each answer elicits a ‘why’) and finally arrives at an answer that elicits an “oh, ok Mommy”, I begin thinking about explanatory adequacy. When he and a girl in his daycare, at the age of 1 1/2 each, are the only ones in the classroom who always know where things are (kid A’s pacifier which they did not hide, kid B’s blankie which they did not take or put away, teacher A’s keys which they did not hide), it makes me wonder about perception, salience, and memory. He’s kind and good at sharing, in large part (or so goes my philosophical analysis) because he possesses the necessary precondition of having observed what makes others happy as well as the capacity to care about making others happy. There are those who want desperately to make others happy but lack what it takes to do so because they either do not or cannot notice what makes others happy.

    These are examples of how parenting is intensely philosophical for me.

    That said, my life in the world of philosophy is odd. My department at MSU (of which Hilde is a part) is very accepting of my choice to have children during graduate school. In fact, the department has admitted a number of folks who already have children of varying ages and stages. My work environment at Lyman Briggs College (where I do STS/HPS of Science) is similarly nurturing; male and female faculty at Briggs in both the sciences and humanities are breeding like rabbits. And then I attend conferences…

    …where I cannot bring my children unless I bring my husband because of the absence or cost of childcare
    …where children, regardless of age, are most certainly either not welcome or so odd as to draw stares (when my son is a teenager, I’d dearly love to bring him to some of the more intriguing sessions)
    …where I know full well that if my husband weren’t as willing to be primary caregiver as he is, I would be turning their care over to someone who cares less than I do while I am at the conference

    Many of these concerns apply to philosophy, generally. The latter is especially problematic for the demands of teaching and writing and attending colloquia. If I had married a more traditional man–one who didn’t think it was kind of neat to stay home with the baby and sing Johnny Cash when the kid asks for lullabies–I would not be able to make parenting balance with philosophy because grading and writing both require long, uninterrupted periods.

    I’ve got a pretty charmed life, so far. What happens next depends on whether I get a job and where. I am under the impression that the vast majority of philosophy departments are not as receptive as my current environs to my life choices. That may be false. Certainly, there is only one department doing a search this year that I considered responding to with anything like 25% female faculty. And most female faculty are doing feminist philosophy; does this mean that the department wants all female hires to do feminist philosophy in the way that my husband’s atheist Persian brother-in-law was asked in an interview to teach Islamic Philosophy? What does it mean? I am apprehensive, but knowing that there is a larger community such as this takes the edge off.

    To sum, I do not feel as if my identity is split as a philosopher and a parent, despite the many pressures of the mainstream parenting style, the time and other demands of philosophy, and my own choice–however determined or free–to parent and practice philosophy as I do. But philosophy–making it or teaching it–does seem to be a career that requires large blocks of uninterrupted time for conferences or for work. Without the right partner, parenting would become difficult even with the most hands-off style I can imagine.

    To echo a previous poster, philosophy needs to change but so does motherhood. And a great deal of that change needs to come, I think, from changes in fatherhood. And there’s the crux, as some analysts have suggested that the advent of half-time tenure track jobs or flexible tenure requirements for caregivers has come about largely as a result of the demand for such by male faculty members. Argh. Philosophy changes as fathers change, and fathers must change for mothers to change. Just not sure how to feel about that.

  23. Hi there,

    Mary Ann Mason has recently put out a less narrative book on this topic – “Mothers on the fast Track: How a New Generation can balance Family and Careers”. As a new mom, this book was very interesting because it claims that academia is less enlightened than many other career paths.

    I’d love to hear more about how others have organised and planned their academic careers in a way that has made having a family more enjoyable and less stressful (if that’s even possible). (as the graduate student coordinator at my university, I actually get a lot of women asking about these matters, so it’d be great to be able to send them somewhere to get good information)

    On a purely anectodal note: I just returned from the American Society of Aesthetics meeting where I met 9 women with children under 5 (and 3 men) — needless to say, there’s talk of arranging childcare at next year’s meeting (though, many of the people I talked to also noted that it doesn’t help with all the evening events).

  24. Regarding expectations of motherhood, I do think it’s true that parents are expected (and expect themselves) to be more intensely and immediately responsive than was the case a generation or so ago. But there are other pressures as well. My daughters have insanely busy social lives for their ages (5 and 2), despite our attempts to keep their “free” time unstructured. Sports, music lessons, birthday parties, school events, etc. There’s pressure to do them all, and it’s not easy to resist, particularly once kids get old enough to feel the pressure themselves. I also sense that there are rising expectations for parental involvement in schools and preschools, much of which requires taking time off work to volunteer at the book fair or clean up after the kiddie Thanksgiving feast. (No question that fathers feel these pressures too, but I don’t know that they always feel the same guilt when they can’t show up.)

    That being said, I’m convinced that it is easier to meet these demands from academia than from most of the corporate world. One just has fewer places that one *must* be *right* now or *else.* On the other hand, the low salaries make high quality child care hard to swing financially unless one’s partner is well-paid.

    Obviously, a supportive partner is key, as is a supportive institutional environment. My own department (Georgetown) has been simply fabulous in this respect. Significantly, all the women in the department (five tenured, one untenured–that would be me!) have children, but my happy experience has been that my male colleagues are fully on board as well.

    As for conferences, I think my view is similar to Bill’s. I just go to fewer conferences. (I did bring my second daughter to a conference by myself when she was ten weeks old and nursing. But it was totally exhausting, and I didn’t get much out of the conference.) Does it hurt my career? I don’t know–maybe. Even if it did, I ‘m not sure I’d do anything differently.

  25. Having children changed what interested me most in philosophy – I became interested in questions about how we think about pregnancy and childcare, whether young children can be considered to have pockets of local autonomy, whether unconditional love is a good ideal, what is involved in being a trustworthy mother, how we might be able to change social norms and children’s expectations about parents and trust, and so forth. All of these interests led to publications in philosophy, and made me a full professor (kids now are 6, 9 and 12). This philosophical work also changed what I expect of myself, my kids and partner, and how I think about paid daycare workers (I think we need to think of ourselves working in concert with ‘othermothers’, partners and paid caregivers in coordinated caregiving, and respect the skills and judgment of paid caregivers, and their emotional connection with our kids).
    I do go less to conferences, (usually manage 3 a year), and only bring my kids if my partner can come to look after them (my father did this for me once when my oldest was a baby and still nursing). Otherwise it can be quite stressful, even if a conference does provide daycare services. I find the flexibilty of academic life to mesh well with parenting – but all of this takes time. It can be tough adjusting to new parenthood and an academic career at the same time (especially because of pressures around tenure). I recommend that philosophers (male or female) trying to do so, read philosophical work that contests the ‘ideology of motherhood’ and start to challenge unrealistic and unhelpful expectations of themselves. Patrice DiQuinzio’s 1999 book (The Impossibility of Motherhood) is a nice place to start (and some my find my work relevant, especially my 2005 book, 2006 Hypatia article arguing against unconditional love, 2005 Journal of Social Philosophy article on trust and motherhood and 2007 JSP article on autonomy and children).

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