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Women underrepresented in philosophy journals, study finds

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Gender inequality is still haunting us with a new study finding that women are underrepresented in philosophy journals even when compared to their already low rate of representation among faculty.

The study by scientists at Binghamton University, State University of New York brings to light several ways in which female philosophers are underrepresented. Scientists are optimistic that their study and the findings will allow for progress to be made regarding female representation in philosophy, by revealing what journals are doing well and what they are doing poorly.

Scientists found that in all years and for all journals, the percentage of female authors was extremely low, in the range of 14-16 per cent. Further, the percentage of women authors is less than the percentage of women faculty in different ranks and at different kinds of institutions.

The study also found great variation across individual journals, and the discrepancy between women authors and women faculty appears to be different in different subfields. Surprisingly, journals that do not practice anonymous review seem to have a higher percentage of women authors than journals practicing double anonymous or triple anonymous review.

Some of the ways in which improvements can be brought about in the discipline include implementing a version of the Bechdel Test, in which works of fiction must feature at least two women having a conversation about something other than a man in order to pass. To pass this version of the Bechdel Test, authors would “cite publications by at least two women philosophers, where at least one of the cited publications is thoughtfully integrated into the paper’s main text, and at least one is cited because it discusses the woman’s original work or the work of another woman (and not because she discusses a male philosopher’s work).”

Another idea is to encourage women to submit articles, or even introduce quotas.

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