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Winning in philosophy: Female under-representation, competitiveness, and implications for inclusive high school philosophy competitions

Author:

Christina Easton

University of Warwick, GB
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Abstract

Women are currently under-represented in academic philosophy. This paper first considers ways in which the competitive atmosphere of philosophy might help explain this lack of diversity. For example, women are stereotyped as less competitive and as less capable of exhibiting what are considered ‘winning behaviours’ in philosophy, leading to a more stressful, less rewarding experience; lower assessments of merit by themselves and others; and potential under-performance. Second, this paper draws out the implications of this discussion for high school philosophy competitions. Are these competitions likely to further exacerbate existing trends of representation, by associating philosophy with competition and winning? I argue that the way that these philosophy competitions are set up, as friendly, low-stakes team events, rewarding attributes that are ‘stereotypically female’, mean that these events are likely to support, rather than damage, diversity in the discipline. Indeed, there are reasons to think that these events form an important part of an image-change that is required for philosophy if it is to become a more diverse discipline at university-level and beyond. I finish by offering a series of practical recommendations for high school philosophy competitions, in light of the aim of increasing diversity in academic philosophy, but also with the more immediate aim of making these competitions inclusive, enjoyable events for everyone.

How to Cite: Easton, C., 2022. Winning in philosophy: Female under-representation, competitiveness, and implications for inclusive high school philosophy competitions. Journal of Philosophy in Schools, 9(1), pp.47–67.
Published on 23 Mar 2022.
Peer Reviewed

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