This fall the APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy contains my article, Women in the Profession: The Persistance of Absence. One of the main themes of the article is that philosophers need to recognize that the absence of women in the profession is a danger to the profession as a whole. I focus specifically on the absence of women at the undergraduate level as providing one of the most disturbing signs for the profession. In this I am following the lead of the work that Evelyn Brister has done on this topic and blogged about at Knowledge and Experience. She has a number of excellent and thoughtful posts on women in philosophy and so I haven’t linked a specific post.
Today I find another article which I think supports the idea that we ought to be worried about philosophy seemingly not having a larger appeal. Though the report is about British universities, we should certainly take notice. Thanks to Jacob Hale for his Facebook news feed link to “Being philosophical may be limited to ‘leisured’ classes”.
Interesting link! Yes, I think it's a real danger that as college degrees become pre-requisites for more and more jobs, in order to be successful degree programs have to show how they build specific job-prep skills.It was certainly clear to me that graduate school in philosophy was a place for people who didn't really have to worry about how they were going to pay their electric bills. In my small-town experience, I had never seen wealth like I encountered among my grad school colleagues.I think philosophy ought to be worried about its future. I don't, however, think that philosophy is not a productive degree. It's only a risk if you see it's only purpose as to prepare students to ultimately become professors of philosophy. If the profession isn't growing, then how much reproduction can be successful?On the other hand, philosophy must be every bit as useful as a degree in English. We teach students to write and to think. And not just about fiction–but about logic and social problems and ethical dilemmas.I would say that philosophy has a PR problem, but the problem is as much internal as it is a public understanding. Too many philosophers are philosophical exceptionalists: they're too smart, too theoretical, too far above the fray to train students for real jobs.