- Professional, academic philosophy has a well documented and ongoing pattern of excluding women. This is the product of collective negligence, the persistence of subtle sexist norms, and lack of action to change the status quo (for a fuller account see here). The situation is bad in the English speaking philosophical world, and it is no better in much of Europe.
- One non-trivial way in which the status quo replicates and reinforces itself is through conferences and edited volumes that have only male, invited keynote-speakers. (See here for more on this.)
- One way in which we can change the way we operate in our profession is if the insiders that benefit most from their ongoing privileges change our norms. Such a change of norms is never easy; if there are real privileges at stake, this can be a bruising experience. Even so we believe that we should hold our academic leaders to highest standards here. (Note: this is about their public, academic actions. We do not expect from each other that we are angels in every department of life.) Keynote speakers are visible examples of recognized leaders in the field. Among the functions of keynote speakers, a prominent one is to confer prestige on events and topics. Every time a keynote speaker accepts a free trip to an all-male line-up, he effectively and visibly contributes to our collective negligence. As Catarina noted a while ago keynotes can put pressure on conference organizers to different degrees.
- The time has come to change the cost-benefit analysis of the main parties involved. We propose a campaign in which we publicly identify keynote presenters at conferences with all or almost all male invitees who through their inaction, complacency, and indifference contribute to the sexist status quo. This involves few epistemic risks (there is no need to rely on hearsay, testimony, etc); it is also likely to be an effective way of promoting change.
- We hereby commit ourselves not to accept invitations to male-only events. We call on others to join us.
Mark Lance & Eric Schliesser