On 11/25/2007 I posted on the dilemma of being a mother and a philosopher, having one’s attention trained in seemingly opposite directions, and what the connection might be to the dearth of women and mothers in philosophy. The comments that poured out in relation to that post are amazing, even six years later. (And some of you will see your younger selves there.) If you care about these issues, give it a read.
I’m wondering now how it seems for younger women / parents in philosophy. So have a look at that old stream and comment here. Are accommodations at conferences any better? Are departments supportive? Are partners helpful? Do you feel that tug between thinking and parenting? Does that have to be an opposition or can it be a productive relationship?
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?