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Representation of Women in Philosophy, Again

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Submitted by Richard Zach on Wed, 02/16/2011 - 11:50am

Since Leiter just quoted data on women in philosophy faculty positions collected by Kathryn Norlock, and over at Feminist Philosophers someone asked for a breakdown by tenure status, here it is. This is survey data from 2003 (the same dataset from which the figures Leiter quotes come) which means there is sampling error. The first (grey) line gives the percentages for each category of the total, the second line gives the percentage of women per category (i.e., 6.3% of all surveyed philosophy faculty are tenured women; of the tenured philosophy faculty surveyed, 17.1% are women). You can make your own tables here.  See also previous discussion and comparison with other fields and data on the pipeline here and here

The problem is that the standard errors in the survey results are really high. We talked about this in the previous post, noting that this data isn't very reliable.  The data was compiled from a survey of approx 18,000 faculty, of which 1.9% were philosophers. So it's based on a sample of about 350 out of a total of approx. 23,000 philosophy faculty (full and part time) overall in 2003. In the case of these figures in particular, what the survey tells us is only that the percentage of women among tenured philosophy faculty is somewhere between 8.5% and 25.6% (at 95% confidence). (Edited, thanks to Jingjing Wu for help with the stats.)

Tenure status and gender Tenured, male

Tenured, female

On tenure track, male

On tenure track, female

Not on tenure track, male

Not on tenure track, female

Total 19.3 8.7 7.1 5.1 31.1 28.7 100%
  per category   31.0    41.8    47.9  42.5
Philosophy 30.5 6.3 10.5 1.5 39.0 12.3 100%
  per category   17.1    12.5    23.9  21.0
Standard Errors
Total 0.30 0.19 0.20 0.15 0.30 0.22  
Philosophy 3.15 1.80 2.04 0.67 4.78 2.73  
Weighted Sample Sizes (n/1,000s)
Total 1211.85            
Philosophy 13.19            
NOTE: Rows may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2004 National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF:04).
Computation by NCES QuickStats on 2/16/2011

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Submitted by Kate Norlock on Wed, 02/16/2011 - 7:45pm

Thanks for noting the updated data, Richard Zach. I first wrote a report for the APA's CSW about this five years ago, and my interpretation of the data was even more tentative then, as I extrapolated from data that lumped fields together (philosophy and history and religious studies frequently get aggregated) and used BLS payroll data to dummy out the 21% number. It's nice that the more specific data from the same data pool is consistent with my estimation, but indeed, the margin of error is large, the data is not good enough, and the APA is aware of this and gearing up efforts to do something much more timely and accurate.