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Workshop: Inclusivity in the Philosophy Classroom (11 June 2019)

Idea & Motivation

The purpose of this workshop is to serve as a platform for discussing the issues that members of minority groups in philosophy face in the classroom setting. Some recent studies (e.g. Thompson, Adleberg, Sims, Nahmias, 2016) suggest that women and members of other minority groups in philosophy feel less comfortable in classrooms, find it hard to communicate freely in a group situation and feel less confident in their ability to talk about philosophy. The aim of the workshop is to discuss various hypotheses that can explain such results as well as to devise specific proposals for increasing inclusiveness in philosophy classrooms, improving classroom dynamics and making classrooms more hospitable for members of minority groups in philosophy. We hope that discussing the issues related with the classroom dynamics will help us understand better mechanisms responsible for discouraging minorities from pursuing careers in philosophy and that it will help us prevent their further dissipation.


The workshop is organized by the Minorities and Philosophy chapter at Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MAP MCMP) and Fachschaft für Philosophie at LMU and generously supported by the Faculty of Philosophy, Philosophy of Science and Study of Religion at LMU and the Marc Sanders Foundation.


  • Liam Kofi Bright (London School of Economics)
  • Catherine Herfeld (University of Zurich/MCMP)
  • Helen Beebee (University of Manchester)


10:00 - 11:00 Liam Kofi Bright (London School of Economics): TBA
11:00 - 11:15 Coffee Break
11:15 - 12:15 Catherine Herfeld (University of Zurich / MCMP): Why Female Philosophy Students Drop Out of Philosophy and What We Could Do About It: First Results of an Explorative Study
12:15 - 14:00 Lunch Break
14:00 - 15:00 Helen Beebee (University of Manchester): Improving the Representation of Women in Philosophy: What Can Students do to Help?
15:00 - 15:30 Coffee Break
15:30 - 17:30 Panel Discussion


Helen Beebee (University of Manchester): ‘Improving the Representation of Women in Philosophy: What Can Students Do to Help?’

In this talk I’ll survey some of the possible reasons why women are so underrepresented in the profession of academic philosophy, and suggest some practical ways (aside from running events like this!) in which students might get involved in improving the situation.

Liam Kofi Bright (London School of Economics): Intersectional Conjecture on Minority Representation

A speculative hypothesis is offered as to why we find minority under-representation in philosophy. It is argued that early exposure to disproportionately negative experience consistently leads to large disparities in future participation in philosophy for folk who are not white men. To make this case the recent literature is surveyed and an interpretation is offered which brings much past work together in a (hopefully!) coherent fashion. I end by discussing what this means for our practice, arguing that it justifies a heavy focus on the classroom experience of university intro courses or pre-university education.

Catherine Herfeld (University of Zurich / MCMP): Why Female Philosophy Students Drop Out of Philosophy and What We Could Do About It: First Results of an Explorative Study

Catherine Herfeld (University of Zurich), Elizabeth Rosas (LMU Munich), Jan Müller (University of Zurich)

It is well known that there has been a steady and significant underrepresentation of women in academic philosophy in general, and in formal areas of philosophy in particular. While this gender gap becomes apparent on all professional levels, the outnumbering of women by men in academic philosophy appears to begin already at an early career stage (Paxton et al. 2012). It has been hypothesized that there is a set of mechanisms at work, which explain those results and that can be directly attributable to intrinsic gender differences that play out in multiple ways in academic philosophy and are thereby conducive to a career in academic philosophy primarily by male students (Antony 2012). Out paper aims at investigating into several of those mechanisms in order to better understand this complexity of factors that seem to operate behind those early dropout rates. We present some preliminary findings from a comparative explorative study in which we analyze the perceptions and attitudes of students in a semester-long philosophy of science course at a major German university. We find that while there are some gender differences regarding perceptions and attitudes towards philosophical discussions, many of the mechanisms explaining dropout rates by gender differences do not seem to be in place. We furthermore present some preliminary results of analyzing the usefulness of female-only learning environments as study environments that should be implemented parallel to mixed learning environments.

Panel Discussion Participants

  • Christine Bratu (LMU)
  • Helen Beebee (University of Manchester)
  • Liam Kofi Bright (LSE)
  • Catherine Herfeld (University of Zurich/MCMP)
  • Nora Heinzelmann (LMU)
  • Silvia Jonas (MCMP/LMU Munich)
  • Marta Sznajder (MCMP/LMU Munich)

Local Organizers

  • Jiamin Yu (MAP MCMP)
  • Milana Kostic (MAP MCMP)
  • Reyhan Alhas (MAP MCMP)
  • Luna Lidl (Fachschaft Philosophie LMU)
  • Lukas Rüther (Fachschaft Philosophie LMU)
  • Niklas Ernst (Fachschaft Philosophie LMU)
  • Jonas Epple (Fachschaft für Philosophie LMU)


Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy
Ludwigstrasse 31
80539 München
Room 021

Practical Info

The Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy is dedicated to a harassment-free event experience for everyone as described in our Code of Conduct.