University philosophy departments, like the rest of our society, have a reputation for sexism. One university with a bad reputation is turning a harsh eye on itself. The findings are not very encouraging.
The University of Colorado has released an outside report (via Inside Higher Ed) that it commissioned on the state of its philosophy department, which finds that the department has an environment of "unacceptable sexual harassment, inappropriate sexualized unprofessional behavior, and divisive uncivil behavior." It finds, in other words, that the department has not been a very pleasant place for women. Female faculty members and grad students said they don't feel welcome fully participating in the department's activities. Female grad students tell of witnessing sexual harassment by male faculty members. The report also notes that Colorado's philosophy department "has a reputation in the international philosophical community for being extremely unfriendly to women."
It goes on to recommend that there be no booze served at department events, and "no evening socializing." It does not take a great deal of imagination to figure out why.
The most quietly hilarious portion of the report chastises the department for behaving like the worst sort of stereotypical academic philosophers, instead of, you know, doing something about the problem:
The Department uses pseudo philosophical analyses to avoid directly addressing the situation . Their faculty discussions revolve around the letter rather than the spirit of proposed regulations and standards . They spend too much time articulating (or trying to articulate ) the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior instead of instilling higher expectations for professional behavior. They spend significant time debating footnotes and "what if" scenarios instead of discussing what they want their department to look and feel like. In other words, they spend time figuring out how to get a round regulations rather than focusing on how to make the department supportive of women and family friendly.
That sounds all too familiar! Horny academic philosophers, awkwardly coming on to their grad students, then trying to cast their behavior as some sort of philosophical exercise. What would Nietzsche say about this?
Write your answer in the form of an essay, superimpose that essay on a nude selfie, and email it to one of your students.