I am about to start my PhD at an excellent Leiter ranked program. I have a BA and and MA from excellent schools. I have worked closely with ground breaking philosophers in my field. I have published, I have an excellent teaching resume, phenomenal letters of recommendation, and moreover I love my job. I am a good philosopher, and I am thinking about leaving philosophy.
I have been a secretary and a chauffeur. I have been disingenuously promised research assistantships and letters of recommendation, in return for dinner dates and car rides. I have been asked if I was married while my colleagues have been asked what they think. I have been told that I’m both cute and idiotic. I have passed on professional opportunities because I am a woman, and no one would believe that I deserved those opportunities — accepting would make me seem like a slut, since men make it on merit, and women make it in bed. So, ironically, I have been praised as professional for having passed on professional opportunities. I have been the lone woman presenting at the conference, and I have been the woman called a bitch for declining sexual relations with one of the institutions of hosts. I think I have just about covered the gamut of truly egregiously atrocious sexist behaviour. So I just have this one question that I think I need answered: Is the choice between doing philosophy, and living under these conditions, or saving yourself, and leaving the discipline?
This is an open call for reasons to stay.
I would say that since she's just about to start a new Ph.D. program, she should give it at least a year. See how things are in the new department. I think that there's almost no chance that the problems she's experiencing will disappear, but I think there's somewhat of a chance that they'll be at least manageable. Although, I guess I don't know what the chances are that this will happen, and it depends heavily on what levels of sexism she finds "manageable."
But if, after a year or two, she still finds that she's unhappy, I would advise her to follow her instincts and get out. Philosophy is a wonderful way to make a living, but only if it makes you happy. And if the A-holes and D-bags are making you miserable, it is completely sensible to seek an environment in which they are less of a factor. I think this is the best job in the world, but if the constant hum of sexist nitwits was making me chronically miserable, I wouldn't think it was the best job in the world anymore.
So, my advice is, give the new Ph.D. program a fair shake, but if things don't get better in a year or two, get out before you've invested so much time that it'll be hard not to throw good money after bad. But (and I'm not sure I fully understand this idiom) you shouldn't be afraid to throw bad money at philosophy. Or whatever.