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10/03/2012

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Jenny Szende

Although the official _petition_ from the Gendered Conference Campaign (GCC) may offer fewer practical suggestions than the NewAPPS petition, I would suggest that the accompanying campaign offers many useful practical suggestions that reach far beyond the NewAPPS petition. In addition, while it's a nice thought that some prestigious allies of the campaign might turn down invitations to serve as keynote speakers, the problem with this suggestion is that it is not available to non-prestigious (i.e. non-tenured and unlikely to be invited to provide a keynote) philosophers. The GCC offers several practical suggestions for conference organizers, conference participants, and even concerned observers in the philosophical community. So, I think that the campaign organizers might agree with your decision not to sign. The GCC pre-dates - and inspires - both of the petitions. But it also offers many of the practical solutions you are looking for.

The timeline and the components of the GCC is well explained here:
http://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/gendered-conference-campaign/

I haven't signed either petition, and wouldn't want to push you into signing a petition you are uncomfortable with, but in this case I don't think the work is ultimately being done by the petitions. The awareness factor seems to me to be the central thrust of the GCC, and to that end, you are doing a great job of going beyond signing any of the petitions by posting here. Thank you for the post, thank you for the opportunity to respond, and thank you for thinking through the need for practical solutions that go beyond signing a petition.

Curious

I haven't kept up with the debate so I don't know the particulars. Uninformed as I am, I have this question: How can conference organizers ensure representation of minorities/women if the conference implements a blind review process?

Marcus Arvan

Curious: the petitions refer to the composition of invited keynote speakers, not the main program (of submitted papers). Because keynotes are invited, the blind review issue doesn't apply.

Jenny: I'm all for the GCC -- but I just don't think awareness and suggestions are good enough, any more than they are good enough for combatting climate change. In most cases when people fail to act en masse to solve a problem, they usually do so not out of malice but by simply failing to notice what they're doing when they do it. Drawing attention to all-male lineups (as has been the case so far) may raise awareness, but I don't expect it will really lead to change. For every time someone puts together an all-male lineup the tendency is to rationalize it ("there are so few women in our subfield", etc.). The best way to combat biases is *immediately* when they arise, not after the fact. This can be done by a common commitment to refuse to participate in all-male lineups, which is why I favor the NewAPPS petition. The other petition (in my humble opinion) is just too open to too many "outs" (i.e excuses and oversights) to really lead to appreciable progress.

Virginia Valian

There is a third petition, intended to reach across the disciplines:
http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/commitment-to-gender-equity-at-scholarly-conferences.html

There is an accompanying Q&A: http://forgenderequityatconferences.blogspot.fr/

anongrad

So, I think it's fairly clear that within the category of petitions which require you to "stick your neck out", there are more and less reasonable proposals. That is, there might be absolutely no risk involved (decline acceptance if the conference has over 100 speakers and no women), or there might be too much (decline acceptance if the conference has a single male speaker).

The problem with the wording of the "quota" petition is that it might just veer too far to one side of this spectrum. It is clear that in order for change to occur, speaker lineups at major conferences should be more than 16% female. Examples need to be set, action needs to occur, all reasonable parties agree on that. Maybe 25% or 33% are good numbers, so if the petition had explicitly limited the committment to refusing to go when there are 3 or 4 male keynotes, there might have been less worrying from Leiter et. al. Yet, as I understand it, the petition actually requires you (qua older male speaker) to decline when there are *two* keynotes and both are male (presumably, you are one of them).

As someone who's organized a couple of conferences, I am quite sure that this will result in a large number of "false positives": conferences punished for being sexist despite having made a genuine effort to be inclusive.

conservative feminism

Gender equality concerns everybody....Fair representation of female philosophers is important issue.Just wanted to say great job with the blog today is my first visit here and I have enjoyed reading your post so far.

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