Women and Philosophy

A recent comment I made at the Dalrock blog:

” There may be something in that complaint about philosophy, but what nobody will ever admit, if they want to remain persona grata in academia, is that women may simply not be as good at or as interested in logical argument.

Something which is common to Judaic, Christian and Islamic traditions is complex argumentation based on sacred texts. Boys have always excelled at this. The fact that this is not a big feature of modern education may help explain why boys do not find school interesting. An extra emphasis on “how do you feel?” questions and discursive rather than definitive answers in education also helps girls. There is a general tendency to regard any area in which boys naturally excel as a problem to be fixed.

Some subjects, like philosophy and mathematics, are hard to reduce like this; and men still tend to excel. It may be partly simply an IQ thing, because these subject require very high intelligence, and most of the very high IQ people are male.

Continental philosophy, rather than the analytical style which I assume is being discussed in the article, might appeal more to women. I must say I agree that the Anglo-American analytical style of philosophy can be pretty arid at times.

The “gladiatorial” element may be especially bad (or good) in philosophy, but trenchant personal criticism is part of science too. I think that was part of Professor Tim Hunt’s point, that women take it a bit too personally. Of course, he got into career trouble for his pains, despite being an English Nobel laureate. “


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