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Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Philosophy

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Video: Do we know what knowing is?
Duration: 00:24:23
Date: 13-06-1973
Video: The concept of mind
Duration: 00:24:27
Date: 14-03-1973
Video: Introduction to logic
Duration: 00:23:00
Date: 22-02-1972

In their essays for this OU philosophy exhibition, Azita Chellappoo and Suki Finn speak eloquently about the lack of diversity in philosophy – and about some of the ways in which is bad not just for members of underrepresented groups but for philosophy as a whole. They also note that things are starting to change. But how far have we got, and how far is there still to go?
With a handful of laudable exceptions, philosophy departments and other institutions (such as learned societies and journals) in Europe, North America and Australasia only actually started thinking and talking about the diversity issue relatively recently. Fifteen years ago, I don’t think the OU, or indeed most philosophers (including me), would have so much as noticed that most of the videos in this exhibition exclusively feature white men (not to mention ludicrously posh voices, at least by today’s standards). So that’s one thing that’s changed: the OU noticed, and I think most philosophers looking at the exhibition would notice too. That’s definitely progress. And the OU didn’t just notice – they thought about what they might do about it. Hence these essays. That’s also progress. More generally, as Azita notes, there has been a lot of concrete action – from more widespread use of anonymous refereeing for journals and conferences to individual lecturers making efforts to incorporate female and non-Western voices in their curricula. 
Is it enough? Manifestly not. Jenny Saul and I will soon publish a report – mentioned in Suki’s post – which follows up a report we wrote in 2011. It includes data on how well represented women are at different stages of the profession. The numbers are going in the right direction – but slowly. For example, there has been an improvement of 6 percentage points when it comes to the proportion of philosophy lecturers who are women (up from 26% to 32%). On the other hand, there has been a very modest increase of 2 percentage points when it comes to intake onto PhD programmes (from 31% to 33%) – despite the fact that women now make up 45% and 55% of taught and research Master’s students respectively.
As in 2011, this seems to be the crunch point. Fortunately, there has recently been a lot of research on why that might be. Unfortunately, so far the results are very inconclusive. There is a lot of work still to be done; for the moment, we can only hope that some of the measures that are being put in place will start bearing more fruit – and soon.
Helen Beebee 
Helen Beebee is Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Philosophy (page 4 of 4)