(It is usually Eric’s job to comment on noteworthy features of various NDPR reviews, but this time he’s having technical issues with his computer and thus asked me to cover this one.)
Besides the underrepresentation of women at conferences and other academic events, here at NewAPPS and elsewhere we also talk about the possible negative consequences of all-male volumes (see an old post by me on this here). Now, one is starting to see comments on the gender distribution of volume line-ups also in book reviews, such as in this excellent DNPR review by Alisa Bokulich (Boston University) of The Continuum Companion to the Philosophy of Science, edited by Steven French and Juha Saatsi.
A second, problematic feature of this volume is that out of 20 contributors spanning the entire philosophy of science, there is not a single female philosopher of science included. While this omission may be understandable for a very small collection on a highly specialized topic, it is more difficult to excuse for a volume of this size and breadth. While I am sure this was an unintentional oversight, it is part of a disturbing larger pattern within the philosophy of science, and philosophy more broadly. Such omissions are particularly troubling when it comes to pedagogical works, such as this Companion, that are designed to help recruit the next generation of philosophers of science. These volumes then become not only a symptom of this problem, but also part of its source, by giving the impression that the philosophy of science is not a field to which women make significant contributions.
Bokulich should be praised for mentioning this issue in her review (and in a very elegant way, in my opinion), as it may happen (and has happened) that editors react quite badly when this particular feature of the volumes they edit is brought into question. I submit that those who are asked to referee book proposals by publishers should also pay attention to the gender distribution of authors (and if possible at all, other dimensions of exclusion), so that the issue is addressed before the volume's completion.(It may be worth noticing that the Continuum Companion series has other volumes with the same problematic feature, such as the otherwise excellent Continuum Companion to Philosophical Logic which I’ve recently acquired.)