Philosophy scholars will gather at Fordham this weekend for an event devoted not only to developing excellent new scholarship but also to addressing the underrepresentation of women in metaphysics.

Five early-career female scholars from other universities in the region will deliver papers at the event, titled Early Career Workshop in Metaphysics: Social and Scientific Ontology. It will be held Saturday, April 30, at in Room 309 at Fordham Law School, starting at 9 a.m. and ending with a reception at 6:30 p.m. More information and a registration link are online.

The speakers will receive suggestions and input on their papers at the event, funded by a grant from the American Philosophical Association‘s Small Grant Fund. Philosophy professor Amy Seymour, PhD, and philosophy doctoral candidate Joseph Vukov organized the event to highlight the benefits of giving the right sort of feedback to early-career scholars trying to get published—particularly women working in metaphysics.

“There’s not a lot of women in metaphysics, particularly as you move up through the ranks, and so our ultimate goal … is to have a conference that showcases some early-career women’s’ work” and helps it along the road to publication, Seymour said. “Obviously, this conference is not only for early-career women, but it’s a particular focus that we thought needed to be addressed.”

Over the next few years, she and Vukov will track the papers presented to see if they’re published and cited at a greater rate compared to papers that weren’t developed in a workshop format, Vukov said.

The event grew out of a similar group Fordham has been hosting for the past three years, he said. The Metaphysics and Mind Group, meeting monthly, has attracted scholars from multiple universities—including established and emerging scholars—seeking to have their papers constructively critiqued in a workshop format.

One paper presented to the group, by Jonathan Schaffer of Rutgers University, was awarded the 2014 American Philosophical Association Prize for Philosophical Achievement and Contribution.

“The long-term goal here is to … see if this sort of thing works as a strategy for increasing publication and citation rates among a certain demographic,” Vukov said.

The numbers are striking, they said: According to a 2015 study, over the past decade only 12.5 percent of publications in the main four generalist journals in philosophy were written by women. A study also showed that, of the 500 most cited works, 3.6 percent were written by women while 6.3 percent were written by one male author alone. Also, they said, women make up only 21 percent of postsecondary philosophy instructors.

“There’s quite a lot of interest [among]women early on in philosophy, but there’s a lot of dropoff after that,” in part because of a lack of role models, Seymour said.

As a result, there’s the risk of worthy scholarship and ideas never seeing the light of day, she said.

“We want to want to make sure that certain people’s voices are being heard,” she said. “Who knows what really great arguments we might be missing if we don’t start giving attention to that?”


Chris Gosier is research news director for Fordham Now. He can be reached at (646) 312-8267 or [email protected].