What can I do locally?
We believe that some of the most effective, and in any case most immediately felt changes for the situation of women and other minorities in philosophy happen at the local, that is, departmental or university level. We here collected examples of some tried and tested local initiatives. Working conditions and institutional structures differ greatly between European countries, and so does the extent to which the below suggestions are already regularly implemented. We still hope that for most contexts at least some of these ideas are useful inspiration. Please get in touch with any further ideas or experiences of local initiatives!
The first step is usually to set up a local group of women and/or other minorities in philosophy. This can range from the very informal (a WhatsApp group or email list) to becoming a formal chapter of your national or regional SWIP or MAP (we collected a list of these societies here), which usually involves selecting a representative or ambassador of your group.
Some things to keep in mind:
We have put together some literature on diversity and inclusion here. Also consider organising:
Mentoring and Support
Regular informal get-togethers (a lunch, a potluck, a pub night, a barbecue, a hike…) can be very effective for creating community, facilitating peer support, exchanging information, and building coalitions for initiating change. When scheduling, keep in mind potential caring responsibilities. You may also want to set up a potentially more formal one-on-one mentoring scheme. Where it doesn’t exist yet, consider setting up a mechanism for students and staff to raise concerns confidentially to your department or university. Many departments have an appointed faculty member (e.g. an “EDI Officer”) and/or student contact for this.
Not all mentoring needs can be appropriately met at the local level, of course — Note that EPSA now also has its own mentoring scheme.
We have put together this list of resources on how to develop a more inclusive teaching practice and more inclusive syllabi. In addition, consider:
Two general suggestions for initiating change in your department and at your university: First, to find out more about what the obstacles for women and other minorities in your department are, it can be useful to conduct what is sometimes called a ‘climate survey’. Here is an example, from Rutgers University, aimed at students. Many departments regularly run similar surveys for staff, and will be happy to share a template (we can assist if you don’t know who to contact). Second, where these exist, get your department to sign up to a good practice scheme, such as the BPA/SWIP one (aimed primarily at the UK and Ireland): This can be a good way to set a positive incentive for your department to improve its culture.
Here are examples of specific issues to raise in departmental or university-level discussions, and potential improvements to push for: