The APA links to a huge number of resources for diversity and inclusiveness here, including teaching materials, advice for students, community and networking resources for underrepresented and/or marginalized groups, and academic work exploring related topics.
Formulating explicit discussion norms can be helpful both for instructors setting the tone for classroom discussion, and for scholars learning to engage more productively in seminars, colloquia, and the like. These guidelines, from NYU’s Department of Philosophy, offer some helpful advice on framing questions and objections and avoiding dominating discussion; the Daily Nous comments policy is also a good model.
By diversifying our syllabi, we can teach philosophical perspectives that more accurately reflect those of the students we teach. The APA has created a collection of diverse and inclusive syllabi and the UP Directory, which provides an easy-to-use resource for anyone who wants to learn more about the work of philosophers who belong to underrepresented groups within the discipline. Project Vox focuses on women philosophers from the early modern period. More teaching resources, compiled by MAP, can be found here.
The work of making our classrooms, colloquia, meetings etc. into inclusive and empowering spaces falls upon every member of the department. All members of the department are encouraged to understand the following crucial concepts.
Implicit biases are attitudes, stereotypes, or associations (positive or negative) that influence our decisions and actions without conscious awareness or control. Unlike explicit bias, implicit bias includes tacit attitudes toward a toward a group that may even conflict with our sincere commitments otherwise. For example, an instructor might not call on or listen as closely to students who are women or a member of another underrepresented group; or a grader might be more likely to interpret ambiguous language in an assignment in a way that counts against the student if the student is a woman or member of another underrepresented group.
- The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity provides useful information on Understanding Implicit Bias.
- Jost et al. 2009. “The Existence of Implicit Bias is Beyond Reasonable Doubt: A Refutation of Ideological and Methodological Objections and Executive Summary of Ten Studies That No Manager Should Ignore”, Research in Organizational Behavior, 29: 39–69.
- Gendler. 2011. “On the Epistemic Costs of Implicit Bias”, Philosophical Studies 156 (1):33–63.
Stereotype threat refers to the effect on performance that occurs when the possibility of confirming a stereotype about a group of which one is a member is made salient. The effect has been studied in relation to performance on a variety of tasks including academic tasks. Experience of stereotype threat has been shown to influence students’ course and major decisions.
- “Thin Ice: Stereotype Threat and Black College Students” is an Atlantic Magazine article by Claude Steele, one of the psychologists who coined the term.
- Johns et al. 2005. “Knowing is half the battle: teaching stereotype threat as a means of improving women’s math performance”, Psychological Science, Mar; 16(3):175–9.
- Aronson et al. 2002. “Reducing the Effects of Stereotype Threat on African American College Students by Shaping Theories of Intelligence”, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 38, 113–125.
The “Pipeline Problem”
Students who are members of underrepresented groups in philosophy take introductory courses at the same rates as those who are members of overrepresented groups, but members of underrepresented groups are less likely to take further classes or to decide to major in philosophy. Discerning the reasons that members of underrepresented groups don’t pursue academic philosophy has come to be known as the pipeline problem. Similar questions arise for why there are fewer applicants from underrepresented groups for graduate school and faculty positions.
- Antony 2012. “Different Voices or Perfect Storm: Why Are There So Few Women in Philosophy?”, Journal of Social Philosophy 43 (3): 227–255.
- Calhoun 2009. “The Undergraduate Pipeline Problem”, Hypatia 24 (2):216–223.
- “Is there any hope for the racial diversity of the philosophy profession?” Blogpost on Leiter Reports.
- “Black Students Are Increasingly Interested in Philosophy but Still Underrepresented among Graduating Majors” Blogpost on Daily Nous.
Microagressions are remarks, questions, or other actions that display—often unconsciously—disrespect or hostility towards a marginalized group. For example, a speaker might use the wrong pronouns for someone; or an instructor might expect a student who is a member of a marginalized group to speak on behalf of all members of that group.
- What are Microagressions? Post on Vox.com
- Microagressions and Philosophy. Edited by Lauren Freeman and Jeanine Weekes Schroer. Routledge 2020.
- Racial Microaggressions and College Student Wellbeing: An annotated bibliography for student affairs and health promotion professionals in higher education
(Uncompensated) Emotional and Service Labor
Female academics are often expected to cater to the emotional needs of students and fellow academics more than their male peers. Academics from underrepresented groups are expected to serve on Diversity and Inclusion committees more often than their ‘non-diverse’ peers. These responsibilities mean extra stress and a greater workload, which then means less time and energy for research or coursework and slower advancement.
- “Emotional Labor in Academia: Accommodate If You Are Female”. Blogpost on PsychologyToday.com
- Jackson 2019. “The smiling philosopher: Emotional labor, gender, and harassment in conference spaces”, Educational Philosophy and Theory 51 (7):693–701.
- “Institutional Mixed Messaging”. Inside Higher Ed.
To be an active bystander is to intervene in an instance of discrimination or exclusion. Active Bystander training can help us think about how to respond when we witness destructive or hateful behavior both in the classroom and in the wider world.