I’ve gotten about 30 responses to the survey I posted last week, and as I begin to look through the data (this takes a while, as I have to enter them into an Excel spreadsheet in order to break them down), some interesting trends have emerged. In this post I’ll note a few things about the responses to the first two questions, which concerned the climate for women very generally – in future posts I’ll have a bit more to say about this issue, plus some discussion of the questions about the relevance of feminism.
The first question in the survey asked respondents to identify the strength of their agreement with the following claim: “Among those who work in empirically-informed
philosophy of mind, there are a sizable number of leaders and
up-and-coming stars in the field who are women, regardless of whether
they take up feminist issues.“ Here is how the responses broke down overall:
- “Agree strongly”: 12.9%
- “Agree somewhat”: 45.2%
- “Disagree somewhat”: 29.0%
- “Disagree strongly”: 12.9%
Similarly, the claim at issue in the second question was: “In empirically-informed philosophy of mind,
there is a culture of taking women seriously, treating them
respectfully, and including them in social networks and professional
opportunities.” The breakdown of responses was:
- “Agree strongly”: 22.6%
- “Agree somewhat”: 51.6%
- “Disagree somewhat”: 12.9%
- “Disagree strongly”: 9.7%
These responses suggest a generally optimistic view of the status of women in the field, and they accord pretty well with (what had been) my own sense of things. (Note that nearly all the respondents identified themselves as specialists in the field.) The picture is complicated, however, when we break things down by gender. Among men (n=15), responses to the first question broke down along the following percentages: 13% “Agree strongly” / 67% “Agree somewhat” / 13% “Disagree somewhat” / 7% “Disagree strongly”. By contrast, among women (n=12) the responses were: 8% “Agree strongly” / 25% “Agree somewhat” / 42% “Disagree somewhat” / 25% “Disagree strongly”. Responses to the second question followed a similar pattern: for men it was 40% “Agree strongly” and 60% “Agree somewhat” with no one choosing either of the “Disagree” options, whereas for women it was 33% “Agree somewhat”, 33% “Disagree somewhat”, and 25% “Agree strongly”, with one “I don’t know” and no one at all choosing “Agree strongly”. Put another way, between these two questions we can observe the following trends:
- Men were more than twice as likely than women (80% vs. 33%) to believe that sizable numbers of women are prominent in the field, whereas women are almost four times as likely as men (77% vs. 20%) to believe that this is not so.
- Men are more than three times more likely than women (100% vs. 33%) to believe that women in the field are taken seriously and treated with respect, and whereas while nearly three-fifths (58%) of women were inclined to disbelieve this, no men at all shared this opinion.
These divergences are striking, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were statistically significant.
This pattern suggests something I rather expected to find, which is that men have a more positive view than do women of the climate for women in empirically-informed philosophy of mind. More specifically:
- Men are more likely than women to believe that there are sizable numbers of women who have prominent positions in the field, and less likely than women to believe that there are not.
- Men are more likely than women to believe that women in the field are taken seriously, treated respectfully, and included in networking opportunities, and less likely than women to believe that this is not so.
This is a very big deal! – and note that this doesn’t change even if you believe that the female respondents were actually getting things wrong (for whatever reason). For even the mere belief among women that the climate for women is unfavorable constitutes the climate as such, at least to some degree, since this alone is enough to keep women from entering the field, to give women who do work in the field the sense that their opportunities are limited or that they are not being taken seriously, and so on. Whether accurate or mistaken, these impressions are out there, and they deserve some real attention.
Comments are open.