The Rice University Humanities Research Center and the Rice NSF ADVANCE present:
Friday March 9, 2012 @ Rice University

Recent works document the under representation of women in philosophy as well as difficult working circumstances, overt and implicit biases, and outright hostility toward women in professional philosophy (Haslanger, 2008; Saul, forthcoming). This symposium aims to provide us with a richer, more accurate understanding of the situation in the profession and at Rice.

We will explore the causes, approaches to investigate causes, and possible routes forward for philosophy. The morning talks, given by Professors Carla Fehr of University of Waterloo and Sally Haslanger of MIT, will both inform us of the facts related to the problem of women in philosophy and other areas of the academy. Workshops held in the afternoon will facilitate an open discussion of these issues between professional philosophers, students of philosophy, and the wider community.

All admissions are free, and lunch is provided

For questions, contact:

Casey O'Callaghan

Associate Professor
of Philosophy


Carolyn Branecky

Student Assistant



Pre-Conference Discussion

February 14
Gender, feminism and philosophy: Two influential essays.
Susan Lurie
Associate Professor of English
Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Professor Lurie is the author of Unsettled Subjects: Restoring Feminist Politics to Poststructuralist Critique. She has published articles on U.S. literature and culture, feminist theory, film theory, photography, and the dynamics between culture and politics. Her current book project, After 9/11: Cultures of U.S. National Protection, explores the roles of literature, culture, law, and political theory in formulating relations between (inter)national security and political community in the wake of 9/11. She teaches courses in 20th century and contemporary U.S. literature and cultural studies; feminist, gender, and sexuality studies; literary and critical theory; and race and ethnicity studies.

Friday, March 9

MD Anderson Hall, Farish Gallery
Ignorance, Goodwill and the Under-Representation of Women
Carla Fehr
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Wolfe Chair in Science and Technology Studies
University of Waterloo
Session Chair: Cynthia Freeland

In this talk I use the epistemology of ignorance as a lens to understand how departments in which most members have ample goodwill toward their women colleagues can nonetheless maintain a culture that functions to exclude and marginalize its women members. I draw on philosophical theory, data from the social sciences, and results of a 5 year, NSF supported research initiative designed to test strategies for improving the representation of women faculty members in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Dr. Fehr works in the philosophy of biology, feminist philosophy and feminist science studies. She conducts research on the impact of culture on biological explanations of topics related to sex and gender and on the social structures of scientific communities that promote excellent research.

Coffee Break
MD Anderson Hall, Farish Gallery
Are We Breaking the Ivory Ceiling? Women and Minorities in Philosophy
Sally Haslanger
Professor of Philosophy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Session Chair: Anne Jacobson

Dr. Haslanger is the Director of the MIT Women’s and Gender Studies Program. She has written on a variety of topics in feminist theory including objectivity, objectification and on the social construction of purportedly natural categories of gender, race and the family, as well as topics in feminist epistemology. She co-edits the Symposia on Gender, Race and Philosophy. Dr. Haslanger received the honor of being named the 2010 Distinguished Woman Philosopher by SWIP.

Provided by our Sponsors
Workshop and panel discussion


A. MD Anderson Hall: Farish Gallery

Situated in the Academic Quad, Anderson Hall will be where both talks on March 9 take place.


Carla Fehr: The University of Waterloo website of speaker Carla Fehr

Sally Haslanger: The professional website of speaker Sally Haslanger

Feminist Philosophers: A repository of news and resources for feminist philosophers