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Helen De Cruz
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Enzo: It's only recently that I've come to realize (probably because I came from a home with a stay-at-home mom, we never had these problems) that all these concerns are amplified to a greater extent for people from low-income families. Meeting the demands of their employers and finding reliable child-care at short notice is vastly difficult for them (remember the story of the single mother who had to leave her kids in a hot car while she went for a job interview, because her childcare arrangments didn't work out). I believe that affordable, state-subsidized childcare is the way to go. Next to this, accommodation is also reasonable, I think, if it doesn't pose demands on other faculty members (e.g., scheduling meetings and talks on hours that parents can make is not a problem, I think, but asking other dept members to do extra work is not a good idea - if anything, it doesn't promote collegiality between parents and non-parents).
Congrats on the British position - that is awesome! I had the same concern about not making my children my excuse. At my previous employer, when I was pregnant, the chair and most other faculty members were even surprised that I already had a child (and a 9-year-old at that!) They didn't know because I didn't bring it up. I must say, however, that I did this in part out of fear of being regarded as unprofessional. And I was a bit in two minds when my male colleagues did bring up their children (for instance, when asking for a meeting to be rescheduled). I didn't feel confident enough to do that. Fortunately, I have a very supportive spouse who share the childcare equally with me (a blessing given the costs of living in Oxford - it's very expensive to have British childcare, as you point out).
This raises an interesting tension: on the one hand, I think a reasonable work-life balance should be available to all, and parents shouldn't be unduly penalized for being parents. However, sometimes a small adjustment can make all the difference, and I don't see why we shouldn't do effort to make scheduling so that it is feasible for parents to attend talks, meetings etc. For instance, talks here in Oxford used to be from 4:30 to 6:30 (the Jowett society etc). You saw virtually no people there who were the primary caregivers (in practice, a glaring absence of female academics). Now they're from 3:30 to 5:30. (While this is somewhat better for me, it's still difficult to attend; however, for most parents it's now possible to attend, as after-school club typically takes until 5:45). I think if taking into account parents' scheduling problems (exacerbated by the problem of getting reliable childcare on an ad hoc and short-notice basis) is perfectly reasonable.
Thanks for the follow-up. I've heard of such cases too, where it seems cultural expectations are especially hard on women who choose not to have children (and the whole set of ideas associated with that, e.g., that childfree people would somehow be selfish). So it's important to keep in mind that a good work/life balance should be attainable for all, not just for parents. Note that Kevin Timpe, for instance, did try to make sure the other faculty members weren't unduly burdened when he took parental leave.
Google the keywords “academic” and “mother” or “motherhood”, and you will find various websites with discussions about the baby penalty in academia for women. Representative for this literature is an influential Slate article by Mary Ann Mason, who writes “For men, having children is a career advantage; for women, it... Continue reading
Thank you, also to Cole Murdoch, for this important work. I'm intrigued about the connection between prestige of journal and percentage of female philosophers who are published in such journals. We learned that dialectica accepts a slightly higher percentage of papers from women compared to men who submit, but still, the overall percentage is very low. Ethics is one of the most prestigious journals in our field (and it is a speciality journal, so it is rather unique in that respect as the "top" journals of our field, in terms of prestige, tend to be general. So I am wondering about whether the fact that both journals are prestigious could contribute to the low percentage of women writing in it. In order to know about this, it would be useful to look at percentages of female authors (an approximate measure, as we will have to code by names and associated gender) in philosophy journals. Would it be the case that this percentage is lower in prestigious journals than in non-prestigious journals (purely eyeballing, this seems to be the case, but I don't know if anyone crunched the numbers). And what factors might contribute to this? For instance, even if there is triple-anonymous refereeing it could be that male grad students and early-career PhDs are more actively mentored and coached to write in the top journals.
Below is a guest post by Kathryn Norlock (Trent University). I have long believed the conventional wisdom that women are not proportionately distributed through every subfield in philosophy. In my field of theoretical ethics, in particular, it is often said that more women in philosophy seem to be found here... Continue reading
Hi Robert: This is indeed part of the challenge - most of the alloparenting in small-scale societies is done by relatives of the child, such as an older brother or sister (as can be seen in the video), grandparents, aunts, uncles etc. With large mobility of families and small family sizes it becomes challenging to arrange for affordable alloparenting solutions. However, even in small-scale societies it is not uncommon that nonkin takes care of children on occasion (e.g., neighbors). I'm not aware of comparisons between kin versus nonkin caregivers - it would be hard to compare indeed, given often the quite different situations (e.g., relatives often don't get monetary compensation, they didn't get special training). My only source for the German scheme is the BBC report on it, see this - in this scheme, the grandparents are not the biological grandparents. They do not adopt the child in a legal sense of adoption, but just fulfill the occasional alloparenting duties of their "adopted" grandchildren.
I know - and that is great. But I know from other people who have under-3s (most people I know don't qualify for the free hours for 2y-olds) that childcare for babies and toddlers under 3 here is still very expensive compared to other European countries, see e.g., here It may be a comfort to parents to know that their 3-y-olds are entitled to some free hours of childcare per week, but if you have a younger child, it seems far off. People I know in Oxford spend over 750 GBP/month for 3 days a week childcare. Other mothers who work full time and have no possibility to work from home see almost their entire salary disappear, but they work anyway b/c disappearing from the workforce for 3 years will mean it's difficult to re-enter later on. So lots still needs to be done.
How can we combine the economic necessities of work with caring for infants? This dilemma recurs across cultures, and western culture is no exception. In a series of interviews with professors who are mothers (which I hope to put on NewApps by the end of this month), one of my... Continue reading
Thomas Reid argued that the human default trust in testimony is a gift of nature, which is sustained by two principles that "tally with each other", the propensity to speak the truth, and the tendency to trust what others tell us. Interestingly, he observed an embodied aspect of this trust:... Continue reading
In order to examine and address issues of participation faced by minority and underrepresented groups in academic philosophy (e.g. gender, race, native-language, sexual orientation, class, and disability minorities), a number of UK departments have recently started to build a UK network of chapters of MAP ( ). With 24... Continue reading
It would certainly be an interesting exercise. The presses I have experience with as author, editor or reviewer typically have 2 or 3 referees so it would be feasible. Nonetheless, while this might be helpful for how much the book would sell I think overall anonymous review would be more effective in increasing the overall quality of published materials.
I refereed for several presses, and have encountered the 'Will it sell?" question. As academics without knowledge of marketing etc, I think we aren't in a position to make a good assessment of this. So I'd propose a division of labour here - the acquisitions editor can make an informed judgment about this taking everything in account. When anonymizing, we can still answer, as referees the following questions: What are the competing books (a question I was also asked)? Do you think the topic of this book is of interest, and who might the potential readers be? All questions that can be answered without knowing the author.
To my knowledge, full book manuscripts are never reviewed anonymously. Given that the double anonymity of peer review is implemented to decrease biases, and presumably, thereby increase the focus on the quality of the writing, this is puzzling. David Chalmers wrote, in a very helpful comment on how to publish... Continue reading
Thanks for this, Kirk - The Daily Nous has started a thread on how advisors etc can help grad students become aware of their transferable skills, so that they might consider a career outside of academia.
This is part 3 of a 3-part series of interviews with philosophers who left academia right after grad school or in some cases later. See part 1 to see what jobs they held, and part 2 on how they evaluate their jobs. This part will focus on the transferrable skills... Continue reading
thanks for the information - fwiw, the person I mentioned earlier (in a nonacademic job, female, from STEM field), is vastly happier in her new job, even though it's not a permanent position. The pay is better, and the atmosphere is a great deal friendlier (no sexist remarks such as "She just got into the phD program because she's a woman", something she often had to hear as a grad student.
Anna: that is a very good point which did arise in my mind as well. In fact, I don't know if it's representative, but most prominent female post academics I know are freelance or self-employed (Rebecca Schuman and Karen Kelsky are two examples that spring to mind). Moreover, it may just be the base rate of women in philosophy, but I had to do some extra effort to find women who satisfied my criteria (1) having completed a PhD in philosophy, (2) being currently employed outside of academia. Fortunately, I got some help from people in my network who brought me in contact with Claartje and Emilie. I am not sure whether any general conclusions can be drawn, but I fear indeed that there may be gendered stereotypes making it harder for women to make the jump. I'll give an example: a very talented woman I know (I will not say who it is) completed her PhD in a STEM field. It was not programming, but she is a gifted programmer who can very quickly pick up new programming languages. She decided during her grad work that academia was not for her (her field is quite woman-unfriendly, although the dynamics are different from philosophy). So she tried the private sector, including a recruiter e-mail from Google, but in each occasion, it was decided she didn't know the programming language in question. I believe Zac when he says that employers don't care much about that in his case, but perhaps, gender assumptions being what they are, they more easily imagine a man as a resourceful person who can learn a new programming language on the fly, but less so a woman. Anyway, she ended up (for the moment) in a public sector job that does require some research and programming, but alas, she is - as in academia - on precarious short contracts that only give her a horizon of 18 months at most. It would be great to see more systematically the challenges men and women face who leave academia, but I would not be surprised if these are different.
I don't know how this pans out for other people, but I take at most 1-2 weeks off in summer. The rest is spent on research and service (refereeing, teaching), and teaching preps. As several of my interviewees mentioned, the pressure to excel in academia is such that one is driven to work very hard.
This is part 2 of a 3-part series of interviews I conducted with seven philosophers who went on to a non-academic career after obtaining their PhDs. For more background on these philosophers, the work they currently do, and the reasons they left academia, see part 1: How and Why do... Continue reading
At this point, I'd like to make a general comment in response to some e-mails I have received about the representativeness etc. of the people interviewed. This blogpost was inspired by several friends who are contemplating a move outside of academia. While there is an emerging Internet literature on postacademic careers, I thought it would be useful to hear specifically from philosophy PhDs, and to hear in-depth about the paths they took to get there. To that end, I contacted some people I knew who were former academics, and got some referrals from people who knew philosophers working outside of academia. I then very quickly ended up with 7 people I could interview, which, given the format of a blogpost, is already quite a large sample. So if the philosophers interviewed here do not provide the full spectrum of postacademic careers for philosophers, or a full geographic range (now I have people from the US, the UK and The Netherlands), this is because of the modest scope and aims of this project, which is not intended to be a full-blown sociological study. I think it would be interesting to do a large sociological study on PhDs who work outside of academia, which of course, would involve proper sampling techniques and so on (given that I think grad schools don't keep a detailed record of non-academic placement, some amount of referral sampling would be inevitable, I think).
It would have been wonderful to hear your perspective as well (you are very welcome to do so in the comments if you like)! I've often wondered what I would do in this case (i.e., working outside of academia). On the one hand, I love reading philosophy and doing philosophy and it would be hard to let go of that entirely. On the other hand, some of the service work you describe is not always fun (reviewing papers etc, I'm wondering if I'd feel obligated - as I do now - to referee papers if I weren't an academic).
Thanks, everyone. I'm glad it's helpful. Roberta: I was thinking how valuable it is to have philosophy PhDs flourishing outside of academia. Even if they could have had a good career in academia, it is valuable that members of our profession are making an impact elsewhere. I always suspected that The Big Bang Theory must have had a philosopher in their script writers, given that I often use TBBT footage as illustrations for my classes (esp my philosophy of science classes). So I was happy to see that confirmed!