New BPA / SWIP report: Women In Philosophy in the UK, 2021

Helen Beebee and Jennifer Saul have authored a new report on the state of women in philosophy in the UK, published by the British Philosophical Association (BPA) and the Society For Women In Philosophy (SWIP). You can read the report here. This report follows up, ten years later, on their first-of-its-kind report from 2011.

Beebee and Saul surveyed philosophy departments in universities across the UK by sending an updated version of the 2011 questionnaire, and received responses from 41 institutions. The headline news is that much the same patterns persist: in both reports, we see women doing undergraduate degrees in philosophy at almost the same rate as men, followed by a steep drop-off when it comes to graduate study, and further drops through the career. There are some cheering signs of improvement– a roughly 3% increase in proportion of women in philosophy at nearly all stages and a 6% increase in the proportion of women with permanent jobs in philosophy. Nonetheless, with progress at this rate it would take 50 years to reach parity at PhD student level, and 20 years at permanent staff level.

The report doesn’t just give numbers, though. It also does several other important things, including:

  1. Offers some pointers to the now vast and fast-growing literature on underrepresentation issues in philosophy, not just limited to gender-related issues.
  2. Provides links to several helpful sample guidelines and policies concerning how to combat various forms of marginalisation in philosophy.
  3. Gives very useful UK-specific guidance concerning the implications of the 2010 Equality Act for various forms of positive action.

We urge everyone to read this, and we also urge all departments, learned societies, etc to sign up to the BPA/SWIP Good Practice Scheme.

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