Finding Philosophy's Female Voices

Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Humanities Writ Large

The discipline of philosophy has a notoriously low rate of participation by women. The Emerging Network Philosophy’s Gender in Historical Perspective has just produced a website to help rectify the discipline's unfortunate distinction.

The project, directed by philosophy professor Andrew Janiak, was recently the subject of a profile in Duke Today by Eric Ferreri.

In the 2000s, roughly 26 percent of all philosophy doctorates at American universities were awarded to women, and today females account for less than one quarter of all professional philosophers.

“Women studying philosophy don’t see themselves in the curriculum,” [says Amy Ferrer, executive director of the American Philosophical Association]. “The philosophers taught most tend to be straight, white, able-bodied males. There’s a lot of attention now on how syllabi can represent all perspectives.”

Janiak is taking a think-globally, act-locally approach to all of this. He started within the walls of his own classroom, adding a section on du Chatelet into his history of philosophy course. That two-week segment was so well received by students that Janiak immediately added versions of it to two other classes as well.

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To reach the larger philosophy world, Janiak’s team is developing Project Vox, an open-source website to provide resources for teachers. It will include sample syllabi and translated writings of philosophers that until now have been under-studied. It will also include sample lesson plans, a response to concerns from philosophy teachers who say they’d like to use female philosophers in their teaching but simply don’t know how to because they were never taught the material themselves.

Referenced People

Creed C. Black Associate Professor of Philosophy

Referenced Projects