By Karen Warren
Sexism (and particular ways male-bias in philosophy continues) is indeed alive in Philosophy. For a wonderful, first-person account of the nature, practices and effects of sexism in philosophy on women philosophers (including women past Presidents of the American Philosophical Association), I encourage people to read the (first of its a kind) edited volume by Linda Alcoff on stories of well-known women philosophers, Singing in the Fire: Stories of Women in Philosophy (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003). See also a recent exchange on the web-based Inside Higher Education news site: http://insidehighered.com/news/2007/09/10/philos . The continued problem and reality of "the absence of women in philosophy" is particularly evident in the courses taught and textbooks used in the history of philosophy. The so-called "recovery project"--a scholarly endeavor begun by a handful of women philosophers in the 1980's--continues to unearth the names and texts of several hundred women philosophers that span the traditional philosophical time periods (Ancient, Medieval, Modern and Contemporary philosophy). This project has resulted in increasing numbers of books on women philosophers in the history of Western philosophy.
Nonetheless, to my knowledge, there has not been one
book/textbook that includes (in the same book) women philosophers alongside
their historical men philosopher contemporaries. (This is in contrast to the
exceptionally few textbooks in the history of Western philosophy that include
some women philosophers, even though they remain a disproportionately low
number relative to the number of men philosophers included in the same book,
especially from 600 B.C.E. to 1500 A.C.E.) A book that will correct that--what
I think is the first book of its kind in
any language--is the book Gendering the History of Western Philosophy: Pairs of
Men and Women Philosophers from the 4th Century B.C.E. to the Present, with
Lead Essay, Chapter Introductions and Commentaries, ed. Karen J. Warren
(Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, forthcoming Spring 2008). The
commentaries in this book are written by "commentators" who are
experts on "the inclusion" of women philosophers in the history of
Western philosophy; many were among those who began or contributed to "the
recovery project" at its earliest stage. Their scholarship in this book
and elsewhere contributes to the resolution of the male-gender bias exclusion
of women in the history of "our" discipline-- an exclusion that
continues, often unnoticed, by the majority of those who teach and write in the
area of the history of Western philosophy.
With the publication of Gendering the History of Western Philosophy in 2008, it will no longer be scholarly acceptable or accurate to teach courses in the history of Western philosophy by using familiar but totally or largely gender-exclusive books, as if there were no women philosophers during the past 2600 years.