Over at The Splintered Mind, Professor Schwitzgebel, scans the bibliographies on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (minus the historical entries), and gives us the top 40 most cited contemporary authors.
Longtime friend of the Smoker, S (as does commenter Hans), points out that, on the list, there are 39 men and 1 woman. 39-1. Once Professor Schwitzgebel expands the list to 200, on a quick, non-scientific count, the number of women shoots up to 17. 17 out of 200.
We've talked about the issue of women and philosophy a few times before, but, what also stood out to me about the list was the lack of non-White dudes, or more technically underrepresented minorities, on the list. Maybe someone would care to do the counting a bit more rigorously than I can (I'd appreciate the help), but by my super-scientific method of name analysis, I count approximately 1 (Amartya Sen) in the list of 200 (excluding those women included in the number above). 1 in 200. Maybe there's more, so let's bump up the number, generously, to 10 out of 200, regardless: HOLY SHIT.
What to make of the numbers? Well, as friend, S, has snarked to me:
You can rest assured that philosophy is the way it is only because people who aren't white dudes aren't as good at being rigorous and analytical as white dudes are. That's why disciplines with more women and non-white people are morasses of confusion, where no progress ever happens. You know, like biology and cognitive psych.Maybe I (and my friend) only half-believe this snark, but after lobbing that bomb, let's put it aside. These numbers are disheartening and, shittily and more importantly, map onto recent experiences that I've had at conferences: workshops, dinners, and/or drinks where only or mostly White Dudes were in attendance (present company and a few women excluded), noticing women after talks and at dinners (when they felt comfortable enough to attend) having a more difficult time than men in having conversations started with them, and, more personally, being referred (harmlessly, I suppose) by a much more ethnic name than my given name by a prominent philosopher I had met before.
I'm not going to pretend like I have anything profound to say about this subject. Thinking about these numbers and recent experiences mostly just make me wince, question just why I would want to keep doing philosophy given its culture, find solace in snark, and wonder if I should just suck it up. After all, it's not a real problem since all the women and minorities are stealing the cushy jobs from super-qualified white dudes.