The reason why we should particularly care about women and ethnic minorities when everyone has it rough is this: women and minorities have it rough in all the ways white men do, and then a bunch more ways piled on top. We did some back-of-the-envelope math a couple of years ago, with clear results: the percentage of job market candidates who are women is equal to the percentage of hires that are women. Being a woman seems to be neither a net advantage nor a net impediment to getting a job in philosophy--once you've made it through grad school. This last part bears emphasizing: women face an especially obstacle-laden path to the Ph.D, and then are subject to no special benefit once they finish and are on the job market. This suggests that the female philosophers are as good (if they weren't, they'd get hired less often) and have it as rough the men (on the job market--rougher in grad school); it's just that there are way, way less of them (because they go to grad school less often and drop out more often than do men).
It's hard to get a job in philosophy even if you're a woman, and then there are all these
But you should also care about this if you care about philosophy in itself; if you care about discovering philosophical truth; if you care about reading insightful philosophy papers; if you care about being made aware of novel philosophical ideas; if you care about solving philosophical puzzles. We should want as many smart people as possible working in philosophy. But a prominent group of people are being systematically edged out. This is bad for the people who are being edged out--it's a serious injustice that I don't mean to minimize--but it's also bad for us men. It is as bad for us as the Negro-League era was for Major League Baseball. Think of it: in 1945, Jackie Robinson tried out for the Boston Red Sox, and the Red Sox did not sign him. So in 1946, when the Red Sox were losing the World Series in 7 games to the Cardinals, Jackie Robinson was playing for the Montreal Royals. This situation was, obviously, extraordinarily bad for black people who wanted to be professional baseball players. It was bad for Cool Papa Bell; it was bad for Josh Gibson; it was bad for Buck O'Neil. These players were victims of a profound injustice. But it was also bad for Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr, who were, to a lesser extent, also victims of this injustice. Women and minorities have actual philosophical contributions to make. Many of these contributions are going unmade because the people who would make them are being edged out of the profession before they have a chance to do it. It's not fair to them, and it's not good for us. It's bad for everyone.