The Edinburgh Women in Philosophy Group is a student-led (and staff-supported) initiative which aims to address the issues facing women and other under-represented groups in academic philosophy. We are primarily here to support philosophers within Edinburgh’s department, but we hope that in doing so we can also contribute to the wider movement of making philosophy more inclusive and effective.
Our broad goals are to increase the visibility of philosophers from under-represented groups within the department, and to minimise the effects of stereotype threat and implicit bias on our students and staff. We do this in a number of ways, including:
- The New Enlightenment Lecture series; an annual lecture inviting a high-profile female philosopher to give a lecture on her research. It takes place just before the winter break, preceded by a round table discussion and followed by a festive dinner, both open to staff and postgraduate students. Our previous speakers were Professor Katherine Hawley and Professor Catherine Wilson.
- The Spring Workshop; an annual workshop focusing on a contemporary issue regarding either feminist philosophy or female philosophers (or both!). Previous workshop topics have been Implict Bias and Pornography and Objectification.
- The Piggyback Sessions; whenever possible we invite any woman visiting the department to meet with postgraduate students for an informal chat about her experiences in academia. As many of the faculty and those organising events here are mindful of achieving a gender balance with those they invite, these sessions happen frequently -often at least every couple of weeks during term time.
Training and Advice
- Anyone organising a conference or workshop in the department can ask us for advice on avoiding an all-male line-up, and on making their event welcoming and accessible to under-represented groups. They can also ask us to endorse the event if they have taken such measures, and use our logo on their event literature.
- The PG Professional Development Seminar runs training sessions for all postgraduates. The EWPG has helped organise sessions addressing issues relevant to under-represented groups, such as ‘Academia and Family Life’ and ‘Tutoring for Gender Equality‘.
- Any member of an under-represented group who is experiencing problems in the department, or their career more generally, may contact us for support. Alternatively (or in addition) you may like to contact the Society for Women in Philosophy.
- The Philosophy department Committee on Gender Climate has agreed that it would be useful for there to be a designated department contact for PG students to talk to in confidence, as well as an external contact, should you have any worries or other comments related to the climate for women in the department.
We hope that this blog will help us to better promote what we already do, as well as giving us an extra forum to do new things as well.
“Three cheers for the Edinburgh Women in Philosophy Group! What a splendid idea, and beautifully timed to catch the rising current of awareness about women in philosophy. I warmly applaud this initiative. Edinburgh is a marvellous place to do philosophy, and you are going to help make it even better for women. I wish I could be there to join your efforts.”
Professor Rae Langton, Professor of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh from 1999-2004 (a position for which David Hume was turned down in 1755) and the first woman to be appointed Professor of Philosophy in Edinburgh.