As a follow-up to my previous post, I'd like to thank Moti Mizrahi for sharing this great little artice, "Philosophy as a Blood Sport." For what it is worth, I think (admittedly anecdotally) that the "blood sport" aspect of professional philosophy probably is one of the main things that does discourage women from entering the discipline (and rightly so). It seems to me to be one of several traditionally male, "macho" elements that we as a discipline tolerate far too much of. Other elements include: boasting of successes, ranking people and programs, name-dropping, provincialism, etc.
What, for example, is the primary purpose of ranking people and programs? One obvious (and perfectly legitimate answer, imho) is that rankings give prospective graduate students important information on where to apply and study. Alas, in practice, it seems to me that the ranking of individuals and institutions is often more akin to the "winner" and "loser" mentality that prevails in sports (particularly, male-dominated sports). Anyone who spends two minutes in the philosophy world knows how obsessed many people in the discipline are with "who is better than who." Frankly, I think this is childish, and that it is entirely unsurprising if the better people among us -- particularly, members of the better gender -- avoid our discipline like the plague.
Again, these are just my admittedly anecdotal reflections. I may be wrong. Perhaps women tend to avoid philosophy for other reasons. But I doubt it. At any rate, I don't have a hard time imagining why someone (anyone) might wish to avoid our childish games. I also hope -- and this was a large part of what motivated me to create this blog -- that, by reflecting on these issues together, there are enough of us who have had enough of it, and who are ready and willing to do our part to help make our discipline a more supportive, inclusive place, one that more closely approximates the reasons I expect most of us pursued philosophy in the first place: cooperative, mutually beneficial pursuit of truth, knowledge and inquiry.