In the past week, those who follow philosophy blogs have had massive exposure to discussions on the so-called ‘Pluralist Guide’, and in particular on the section dedicated to the ‘Climate for Women in Philosophy’ (see here and here for NewAPPS posts on the topic). At the risk of contributing to the general fatigue, we add a few thoughts.
We concur with many of the concerns raised here and elsewhere regarding the methodology and potential negative impact of the ‘Climate for Women in Philosophy’ survey as originally presented. General reputational surveys are problematic in many ways. But even if we take into account non-negligible considerations of cost-effectiveness and risk to those queried, it is clearly not the most suitable approach to sketch an accurate picture of the parameter under consideration, i.e. whether a given department offers a welcoming environment for female graduate students. We worry especially that departmental strengths in philosophic feminism have been used as a proxy for general welcoming climate toward women. (Having said that, the undersigned take outright hostility toward philosophic feminism as a negative signal.)
However, to bring the ‘climate’ parameter to the fore as a relevant element is a very laudable initiative. Our impression is that general ‘climate’ considerations (not only for women but for graduate students in general, i.e. whether a given department offers a nurturing, caring environment) are typically not given the significance they deserve, and the PG section on ‘climate’ could be an important step in this direction.