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Would you continue the conversation about Peter Ludlow, Colorado, Rutgers, Northwestern, etc., here?  Otherwise the acceptance thread becomes the everything thread.  For me, having separate threads divided by conversation is helpful for sorting through posts/comments.  And in my view, this conversation is too important to be a sub-topic in an acceptance thread.

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Cross posting this from the new thread I made on the Ludlow issue:   If this evidence of Ludlow's accuser making friendly communication with Ludlow during the time that the accuser was supposedly

First: http://www.ndaa.org/pdf/pub_victim_responses_sexual_assault.pdf   Second: In light of the resource above, and other considerations, I really don't think this thread should become a space wher

So...It is inappropriate to suggest the possibility that the accuser might be a liar or crazy, but it is perfectly acceptable to not just suggest the possibility but to assume and take action without

I'll be the first to bite on this new thread, but in a general way. 

 

Basically I'm wondering how I can assess the climate for women at any one department. Is there a unified source somewhere? In particular, my only accept right now is at Rochester, and it looks like they only have two female grad students (out of 20). I'm wondering if the best way to assess the situation is to ask for the contact information of one of them? Do you think it would be seen as an odd request of the chair to specifically have the info of a female student? 

 

I'm worried about... well, all the usual worries. 

 

Any advice on this would be appreciated!

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I'll be the first to bite on this new thread, but in a general way. 

 

Basically I'm wondering how I can assess the climate for women at any one department. Is there a unified source somewhere? In particular, my only accept right now is at Rochester, and it looks like they only have two female grad students (out of 20). I'm wondering if the best way to assess the situation is to ask for the contact information of one of them? Do you think it would be seen as an odd request of the chair to specifically have the info of a female student? 

 

I'm worried about... well, all the usual worries. 

 

Any advice on this would be appreciated!

 

You should often be able to get their email online, either on academia.edu by searching for their name or the philosophy department's website under their grad student directory.

 

That said, it is otherwise perfectly fine to request the email information of the female grad students, though I don't know if necessarily you should email the chair. You might be able to go through the secretary who would in any case be the person in charge of maintaining the grad student directory with names and contact information. This is perfectly fine, but even more so given the three horrifying incidents that have occured within one year's time. And I can't imagine a better source of information on how the climate at a department is.

Edited by SelfHatingPhilosopher
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Do you think it would be seen as an odd request of the chair to specifically have the info of a female student? 

 

I don't think that should seem odd at all. If the chair, or other faculty, make you feel odd for asking for that information, I would take that as a bad sign about the department's climate. You should definitely talk to current grad students at departments you're considering. 

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I'll be the first to bite on this new thread, but in a general way. 

 

Basically I'm wondering how I can assess the climate for women at any one department. Is there a unified source somewhere? In particular, my only accept right now is at Rochester, and it looks like they only have two female grad students (out of 20). I'm wondering if the best way to assess the situation is to ask for the contact information of one of them? Do you think it would be seen as an odd request of the chair to specifically have the info of a female student? 

 

I'm worried about... well, all the usual worries. 

 

Any advice on this would be appreciated!

 

The email addresses for graduate students are often posted on department websites--go ahead and email students. But, it's best to have these conversations over the phone because students might be hesitant to be honest if it requires putting their thoughts or experiences in writing, so you might want to email to request a chat via phone. This isn't a strange thing to do at all. Prospective students do it all the time. What I would email the chair to ask, though, is whether there are any demographic differences in attrition and completion rates, if any women have dropped out (and if they have, does the department have contact information for them so that you can talk to them about why? Sometimes the reasons are totally innocuous, but sometimes they aren't). What are the demographics of the faculty? Who do they invite to campus for talks? It's worth talking to students from other social groups in the program too (do they care about equity issues? A program can be mostly male and still be quite friendly to women). If people are hesitant to talk about gender issues, race issues, etc., that's a red flag. 

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I'll be the first to bite on this new thread, but in a general way. 

 

Basically I'm wondering how I can assess the climate for women at any one department. Is there a unified source somewhere? In particular, my only accept right now is at Rochester, and it looks like they only have two female grad students (out of 20). I'm wondering if the best way to assess the situation is to ask for the contact information of one of them? Do you think it would be seen as an odd request of the chair to specifically have the info of a female student? 

 

I'm worried about... well, all the usual worries. 

 

Any advice on this would be appreciated!

 

Only 2/20 graduate students is an unencouraging sign. I think Brown has similar issues with representation. Talk to both of those students, philosophe. It's reasonable to talk to former students as well, especially ones who were supervised by the person you're most interested in working with, if there is a such a person. 

 

It's also totally reasonable to ask anyone at the school why there are so few women in their program and what they are doing about it or plan to do about it. Be a little bit wary of explanations that attribute no blame whatsoever to the department ("We make offers to lots of women, but they all end up snubbing us for higher ranked schools!").

 

If you're visiting, ask if you can stay with one of those two students. One of my friends went to an official visit that included a hotel stay, but requested to room with a woman graduate instead for one night, and that request was accommodated and it was very valuable. This will give you a lot of time to get to know each other, and for a frank conversation about the climate to occur naturally, in a relatively stress-free context (in pajamas and over a beer, say). 

 

If you are currently at a university where there are well-connected woman philosophers, meet with them and show them your list of acceptances. They'll often tell you where is and isn't safe. (I had a professor do this for me when I was choosing my MA school; she literally glanced at a list, pointed at a couple and said 'not here'.)

 

Meeting other women graduate students, in any program, especially if they are far along, can be good, too. There is seriously something like a network of whispers we use to keep ourselves safe, and you'll find that a lot of different women in the field can pass on relevant information about a lot of different places.

 

It is exhausting, and it isn't fair that we have to do this sort of fact-checking, but those are the breaks. And in fact it can actually be a net positive experience, since the feelings of solidarity you get when you talk to other women who have had to navigate the same issues can be pretty strong.

 

Good luck!

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Seconding the advice above about having those conversations at the over Skype or the phone (if you can't have them in person), rather than through e-mail. This is important! Just ask to set up a time to chat about their experiences and about the climate. They will more than understand why you are asking, and they'll say a lot more 'off the record' than they will in writing.

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I'm wondering if the best way to assess the situation is to ask for the contact information of one of them? Do you think it would be seen as an odd request of the chair to specifically have the info of a female student?

 

I believe that the best way to learn about the climate is to talk to women who are experiencing it.  I think that's the best you can possibly do.  If anyone thinks your request is odd, then that *right there* is evidence of a problem.  They should be ready and enthusiastically willing to help you connect with women in the department.  Any other response is evidence of a problem.

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Only 2/20 graduate students is an unencouraging sign. I think Brown has similar issues with representation. Talk to both of those students, philosophe. It's reasonable to talk to former students as well, especially ones who were supervised by the person you're most interested in working with, if there is a such a person. 

 

It's also totally reasonable to ask anyone at the school why there are so few women in their program and what they are doing about it or plan to do about it. Be a little bit wary of explanations that attribute no blame whatsoever to the department ("We make offers to lots of women, but they all end up snubbing us for higher ranked schools!").

 

If you're visiting, ask if you can stay with one of those two students. One of my friends went to an official visit that included a hotel stay, but requested to room with a woman graduate instead for one night, and that request was accommodated and it was very valuable. This will give you a lot of time to get to know each other, and for a frank conversation about the climate to occur naturally, in a relatively stress-free context (in pajamas and over a beer, say). 

 

If you are currently at a university where there are well-connected woman philosophers, meet with them and show them your list of acceptances. They'll often tell you where is and isn't safe. (I had a professor do this for me when I was choosing my MA school; she literally glanced at a list, pointed at a couple and said 'not here'.)

 

Meeting other women graduate students, in any program, especially if they are far along, can be good, too. There is seriously something like a network of whispers we use to keep ourselves safe, and you'll find that a lot of different women in the field can pass on relevant information about a lot of different places.

 

It is exhausting, and it isn't fair that we have to do this sort of fact-checking, but those are the breaks. And in fact it can actually be a net positive experience, since the feelings of solidarity you get when you talk to other women who have had to navigate the same issues can be pretty strong.

 

Good luck!

 

I agree with everything said here.  I want to add something.  Numbers are not everything.  Numbers are one thing.  But how women are actually treated is another thing. 

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I agree with everything said here.  I want to add something.  Numbers are not everything.  Numbers are one thing.  But how women are actually treated is another thing. 

 

Agreed! But it's also true that because of stereotype threat and related reasons, it's typically a little harder to thrive in contexts where you're the only visible minority of some kind or other. Even in a basically healthy department, being the only woman in many of your seminars is going to take some kind of toll. There is some research to show that being the only woman in a mixed group is correlated with a decrease in performance when it comes to tasks for which stereotype threat usually applies (like math, engineering, ... and I'd count a lot of philosophy in this category for sure) (Sekaquaptewa & Thompson 2003; Inzlicht and Ben-Zeev 2000). But yeah, these considerations might be small potatoes compared with the really vicious stuff you're most concerned to avoid. 

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You should often be able to get their email online, either on academia.edu by searching for their name or the philosophy department's website under their grad student directory.

 

That said, it is otherwise perfectly fine to request the email information of the female grad students, though I don't know if necessarily you should email the chair. You might be able to go through the secretary who would in any case be the person in charge of maintaining the grad student directory with names and contact information. This is perfectly fine, but even more so given the three horrifying incidents that have occured within one year's time. And I can't imagine a better source of information on how the climate at a department is.

 

I mentioned the chair because we already have an email thread going. It's a good suggestion to go through the website.... I don't want to indicate that I'm concerned or imply there may be a problem with their climate.

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Only 2/20 graduate students is an unencouraging sign. I think Brown has similar issues with representation. Talk to both of those students, philosophe. It's reasonable to talk to former students as well, especially ones who were supervised by the person you're most interested in working with, if there is a such a person. 

 

It's also totally reasonable to ask anyone at the school why there are so few women in their program and what they are doing about it or plan to do about it. Be a little bit wary of explanations that attribute no blame whatsoever to the department ("We make offers to lots of women, but they all end up snubbing us for higher ranked schools!").

 

If you're visiting, ask if you can stay with one of those two students. One of my friends went to an official visit that included a hotel stay, but requested to room with a woman graduate instead for one night, and that request was accommodated and it was very valuable. This will give you a lot of time to get to know each other, and for a frank conversation about the climate to occur naturally, in a relatively stress-free context (in pajamas and over a beer, say). 

 

If you are currently at a university where there are well-connected woman philosophers, meet with them and show them your list of acceptances. They'll often tell you where is and isn't safe. (I had a professor do this for me when I was choosing my MA school; she literally glanced at a list, pointed at a couple and said 'not here'.)

 

Meeting other women graduate students, in any program, especially if they are far along, can be good, too. There is seriously something like a network of whispers we use to keep ourselves safe, and you'll find that a lot of different women in the field can pass on relevant information about a lot of different places.

 

It is exhausting, and it isn't fair that we have to do this sort of fact-checking, but those are the breaks. And in fact it can actually be a net positive experience, since the feelings of solidarity you get when you talk to other women who have had to navigate the same issues can be pretty strong.

 

Good luck!

 

Great advice, thank you very much!

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I mentioned the chair because we already have an email thread going. It's a good suggestion to go through the website.... I don't want to indicate that I'm concerned or imply there may be a problem with their climate.

 

I actually think how the chair reacts could be a useful gauge for how things are in the department. Even if all of the students are generally pretty wonderful on this front, it's important to have faculty (especially faculty in positions of power within the department) who take these issues seriously. Particularly because so much can change from year to year in a department depending on graduate student cohorts. 

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Basically I'm wondering how I can assess the climate for women at any one department. Is there a unified source somewhere? 

 

 

I know others have said what I'll say, but I'll reiterate it anyway: I don't think there is a way for you to do that beyond asking current students and faculty yourself. It's worth pointing out that you should probably ask as many people as you can (not just, e.g., the two women at Rochester)--simply because it's worth getting a sense of how aware other students are of what's going on.

 

I'm probably not being as clear as I intend, so here's an example. Suppose there are 12 students, and 2 are female. Now suppose that those women report a bad climate. No matter what, that's probably a place to avoid, then. But if all 10 male students also tell you the climate's not good for women, that might give me some hope that things will improve in the near future, since my prospective immediate colleagues seem aware of the situation (and thus, hopefully, less prone to exacerbate it). On the other hand, if they all think things are hunky-dory, then that indicates that the department's climate problems are operating under the departmental radar.

 

Like I said, it's probably not the case you'd want to attend a place like either of those described. But I could imagine the difference being salient to decision-making.

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Hello all,

 

Regarding the issue of gender in philosophy programs, it seems that the best you can do is to glean what information you can from the department's website regarding professor and student ratios, committees on gender equality, invited speakers, the kinds of classes that are taught, etc. If you have access to well-connected female professors, they can be an invaluable source of advice. Most important of course is to talk to female grad students in the program. My experience is that they are happy to be candid with you. None of this will give you a perfectly clear picture, but you can triangulate from this information to make as informed as decision as possible. 

 

That said, I did exactly this process before I came to Northwestern. Gender friendliness is of high importance to me, having come from a fairly problematic undergraduate program that didn't always treat its female students well. Northwestern's department is extremely gender friendly in my own experience, so you can imagine my surprise and anger when this scandal broke a couple of days ago.

 

As grad students, we are always working with limited information; the machinations of the faculty and the administration are fairly opaque. The one time you will be in a position of power is before you accept an offer: my advice is to ask as many questions as you can at that time. Ask the program directly what steps they take to ensure that the department is hospitable to women and other under-represented minorities. Ask them directly how many and which of your graduate level classes will transfer. Make sure they have a clear record of their job placements posted and if they don't, ask them what their placement rate is. Especially if you have two competing offers, ask them to give you more money. None of this can hurt you, and after you accept an offer, your power is gone.  

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Cross posting this from the new thread I made on the Ludlow issue:

 


If this evidence of Ludlow's accuser making friendly communication with Ludlow during the time that the accuser was supposedly trying to kill herself/in the hospital and extremely depressed does exist, and it surely does because they are obviously ready to show it in court, then this accusation, as I feared, has done a terrible injustice to Ludlow's name.

Again I say, not every accusation = a terrible person. Not every accusation means you should flee the departments involved. Sometimes accusations are made by crazy people or liars.
 

"Mr. Ludlow denies P's allegations that he sexually harassed or assaulted her. Mr. Ludlow is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit or any lawsuit by P. That, alone, speaks volumes about this case. The authorities have never notified Mr. Ludlow of any criminal complaint nor has he ever been contacted by the police. He certainly has never been charged with any crime, now or ever. Moreover, to our knowledge, there has never been any recommendation by any Northwestern "committee" that Mr. Ludlow be terminated.

 

Mr. Ludlow did not assault P nor did he engage in any inappropriate conduct. We have corroborating evidence that P propositioned Mr. Ludlow. He refused her advances.

We are in possession of communications which show that P initiated friendly communications with Mr. Ludlow the day after and then again four and five days after the date on which she now alleges he assaulted her. Some of these communications were via social media. We also have text messages which show that P was very friendly with Mr. Ludlow on February 15, 2012--five days after the alleged assault--and that she, in fact, asked him to meet with her in person and then came to a conference he was attending, asking him to talk with her. At that time, Mr. Ludlow told her, as he had in the past, that he did not want to be romantically involved with her.

 

On April 24, 2012, P's previous attorneys sent a letter to Mr. Ludlow requesting a "settlement." Mr. Ludlow refused to enter into any type of settlement because he had done nothing wrong. We heard nothing more from P until we learned of the lawsuit she had filed against Northwestern.

 

We encourage the press and people reading the articles arising out of this complaint to remember that there are two sides to every story. We also encourage the press to engage in responsible reporting and not to inflame an already difficult situation. These allegations are very serious and will be dealt with in due course through the litigation process."

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Cross posting this from the new thread I made on the Ludlow issue:

 

If this evidence of Ludlow's accuser making friendly communication with Ludlow during the time that the accuser was supposedly trying to kill herself/in the hospital and extremely depressed does exist, and it surely does because they are obviously ready to show it in court, then this accusation, as I feared, has done a terrible injustice to Ludlow's name.

Again I say, not every accusation = a terrible person. Not every accusation means you should flee the departments involved. Sometimes accusations are made by crazy people or liars.

 

First: http://www.ndaa.org/pdf/pub_victim_responses_sexual_assault.pdf

 

Second: In light of the resource above, and other considerations, I really don't think this thread should become a space where we cast doubt on this woman's testimony (which I think you've done in an especially ugly, ableist way by intimating that she's either "crazy" or "a liar"). 

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First: http://www.ndaa.org/pdf/pub_victim_responses_sexual_assault.pdf

 

Second: In light of the resource above, and other considerations, I really don't think this thread should become a space where we cast doubt on this woman's testimony (which I think you've done in an especially ugly, ableist way by intimating that she's either "crazy" or "a liar"). 

 

Indeed.

 

What I hope Vineyard meant to say is something to the effect of, "Hey, let's not come to conclusions yet about Ludlow's guilt or innocence with respect to the gravest of the crimes/harms of which he is accused."  Because I saw some posts on this forum that suggested that people had already come to conclusions of this kind.

 

But yes, any hints or suggestions that this woman is crazy or a liar are exactly the kinds of assumptions that are both deeply troubling and indicative of the wider problem that persists among our departments of philosophy.

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First: http://www.ndaa.org/pdf/pub_victim_responses_sexual_assault.pdf

 

Second: In light of the resource above, and other considerations, I really don't think this thread should become a space where we cast doubt on this woman's testimony (which I think you've done in an especially ugly, ableist way by intimating that she's either "crazy" or "a liar"). 

 

So let me get this straight. You are saying that the "issues related to sex and gender based harms/crimes" thread is not the proper place to doubt a woman's testimony. However, everyone has already doubted Ludlow's testimony! Is this only a place for us to assume professors are guilty and that false accusations never happen?

Almost every poster has suggested that he is a sex criminal and man to be avoided, even with a total lack of evidence, but you are upset that I suggested that she might be crazy or a liar?

 

 

Also, Ian, I don't think reasonable skepticism about the validity of a completely unsubstantiated testimony is AT ALL related to problems in some philosophy departments. I don't care if the accuser is a man, woman, or child...it is simply unfair to assume guilt based on a single testimony. It is completely possible that the accuser is crazy or a liar. Do you deny that possibility? Surely you don't.

 

...So are you suggesting that because there are real climate issues in philosophy departments, we ought to show women deference and not question them when they make accusations? Even if we know nothing about the case? That's absurd. That merely creates a new climate issue: it's called a witch hunt. Do you want to practice philosophy in a climate where we jump to conclusions and assume every accusation is true?

I know there is a MASSIVE pressure to white-knight any time a women/sex issue arises. The socially safest thing to do is assume that in every case there is a male professor dominating and taking advantage of a female undergraduate, and then defend to the bitter end that surely this was one of those cases. No evidence? "These issues are hard to prove!" Evidence to the contrary? "That evidence doesn't say anything! I'm going to apply all of my skepticism only to evidence that suggests the testimony was false!" This inconsistency is currently socially valued. If you are ever seen posing some skepticism to a testimony, YOU ARE NOW THE PROBLEM. No. No. Some skepticism is NOT the problem. Waiting to see the evidence before drawing a conclusion is NOT the problem.

 

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Also, Ian, I don't think reasonable skepticism about the validity of a completely unsubstantiated testimony is AT ALL related to problems in some philosophy departments. I don't care if the accuser is a man, woman, or child...it is simply unfair to assume guilt based on a single testimony. It is completely possible that the accuser is crazy or a liar. Do you deny that possibility? Surely you don't.

 

 

Vineyard, I'm trying to be as charitable to you as possible.  But in this context -- and context matters a great deal here -- it's inappropriate to suggest the possibility that this woman is or could be a liar or crazy.  There are ways to suggest the possibility of Ludlow's innocence without being insensitive.

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Vineyard, I'm trying to be as charitable to you as possible.  But in this context -- and context matters a great deal here -- it's inappropriate to suggest the possibility that this woman is or could be a liar or crazy.  There are ways to suggest the possibility of Ludlow's innocence without being insensitive.

So...It is inappropriate to suggest the possibility that the accuser might be a liar or crazy, but it is perfectly acceptable to not just suggest the possibility but to assume and take action without evidence on the assumption that Ludlow is a sexually-assaulting power abuser and poster-child for climate issues in philosophy departments? (In fact, this assumption of guilt is the only position that you are socially allowed to take? Keep in mind, by not assuming Ludlow's guilt, you are at least entertaining the possibility that the accuser is a liar or is crazy/completely mistaken. There really isn't any other possibility.)

 

Edited by TheVineyard
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Vineyard, a couple of things are worth noting:

 

(1) Nobody here is "white-knighting" (which is an awful, ugly term to begin with). Nobody is pretending that false accusations do not happen - only that the actual rate of false reporting is very low, and that your response is ridiculous considering the source of your information. There is evidence that we should take these allegations seriously (despite your claim that there is "no evidence") which includes the testimony from the university officials which concluded " The complaint alleges that a university official (Ms. Slavin) concluded, "based on the totality of the evidence...that Ludlow engaged in unwelcome and inappropriate sexual advances toward Plaintiff on the evening of February 10-11, 2012. In particular, Ms. Slavin found that Ludlow initiated kissing, French kissing, rubbing Plaintiff’s back,and sleeping with his arms on and around Plaintiff on the night of February 10-11, 2012." (link)

 

(2) Undermining the credibility of the woman in question by claiming she might be 'crazy' or a 'liar' is absolutely uncalled for, and your thread title 'New information on the Ludlow case suggests the whole thing might be made up... ' is too suggestive given that it's based entirely on a statement from the defense attorney. The evidence that the defense attorney has wouldn't even suggest that she is lying about the charges (see Hypatience's link about victim's responses to sexual assault). 

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Vineyard, you're starting to get more aggressive and it's not going to help anyone. I understand that you're frustrated, but perhaps discussion of Ludlow's innocence/guilt should remain in the thread you started about that issue. 

Edited by Monadology
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