Site Visit Program Details

American Philosophical Association (APA)
Committee On the Status of Women (CSW) Site Visit Program


Background and Goals

The APA has a clear interest in and responsibility for improving the climate for women in philosophy departments. Moreover, working to improve the climate for women, improves the climate for everyone.  Good climate makes a difference for job satisfaction and productivity. The APA Committee on the Status of Women is establishing a site visit program. The goal and activities of the program are based on a significant body of research and best practices developed over the past decade by the National Science Foundation ADVANCE program.  Specific goals of the APA-CSW-sponsored site visits include:

  • Gaining information in a systematic way about the range and variety of women’s and minorities’ experiences in philosophy that contribute to the ongoing underrepresentation of women and minorities in the field.
  • Informing departments, where necessary, about challenges women and philosophers of other underrepresented groups face, drawing on first person reports and social science research.
  • Helping departments analyze the climate issues particular to their own setting.
  • Making recommendations based on proven best practices.
Prior to the Visit

Site visits would be conducted at the request of a department chair, in consultation with the faculty.  These visits will be tailored to the needs of the department.  Once a date is agreed upon, a team normally comprised of three philosophers, including at least two women, will be assembled.

The chair will prepare a report providing information about the department, which can include: the undergraduate and graduate curriculum with sample syllabi, demographic data for undergraduate classes, majors, graduate student admissions and placement, faculty appointments, the most recent Visiting Committee report (where applicable), etc.  In addition, faculty/students/employees will be asked to complete a confidential survey, for the team's use only. 

During the Visit

Members of the site visit team meet with the philosophy department’s chair and others in leadership positions in the department, e.g., the Director of Graduate Studies.  The specific plan for meetings with groups within the department will vary, depending on the particular structure and needs of the department in question.  However, it will be important to provide opportunities for members of underrepresented and/or vulnerable groups to speak confidentially to the team. We would make it a point to speak with faculty members in philosophy (or related areas), lecturers, office staff, graduate students, and undergraduates, in addition to others.  Opportunities will be available for anyone to speak to the team individually, if requested.   The team would also meet with the Dean of the School in which Philosophy is located, and other administrators responsible for faculty appointments, hiring, tenure and promotion. The goal of these meetings is to provide the site visit team with the quantitative and qualitative information they need to assess the climate for women and members of other underrepresented groups in the host facility.

After the Visit

The team will write a report for the department chair, detailing the findings of the visit and offering practical suggestions on improving the climate for women. The chair is encouraged to share the report with the rest of the department.  Approximately 18 months after the visit, the department chair will be asked to respond in writing to the team, describing actions taken to improve the conditions for women and other underrepresented groups.  The list of departments that have undergone site visits will be maintained on the CSW’s website.

Site Visits that Assess the Climate for other Underrepresented Groups

The team will be attentive to issues beyond gender, e.g., race, sexuality, disability, and will make an effort to collect quantitative data on these groups.  In some cases, it will be impossible to separate the ways in which gender and race/sexuality, etc. are playing a role in the climate, and the team will not make an effort to “separate out” the different factors, but will offer suggestions that are sensitive to intersectional issues. Our training for site visit team members will cover issues beyond gender, including the ways that gender intersects with other social categories, but the team members will not present themselves as experts on the many ways that hierarchy can manifest itself in academia. As the CSW-sponsored site visit program evolves, the CSW hopes to coordinate with the members of other APA Inclusiveness Committees, so that they too can participate in and co-sponsor particular site visits, when appropriate.  If a department or dean requests that the site visit focus on issues concerning underrepresented groups, the CSW team would be happy to collaborate with the APA Inclusiveness Committee to coordinate efforts.

If you have questions, want to be trained to join a team, or want more information about a site visit for your department, please contact Peggy DesAutels at peggy.desautels@gmail.com

Workshop Leaders

Peggy DesAutels is Professor of Philosophy at University of Dayton.  She chairs the APA Committee on the Status of Women.  She served as “Principal Personnel” on a National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant from 2009-2011.  This $2.5 million grant was awarded to a consortium of universities: University of Dayton (private Catholic University), Wright State University (Ohio Public University), Central State University (Historically Black University), and Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT).  She trained the equity advisors at all four institutions.  She also offered workshops on implicit bias and best practices tied to recruiting and advancing women faculty to search committees, chairs, and tenure and promotion committees throughout the consortium.

Carla Fehr is an Associate Professor and holds the Wolfe Chair in Science and Technology Studies in the Philosophy Department at the University of Waterloo.  She served as a co-PI on a $3.3 million National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant from 2006-2011 at Iowa State University. This grant supported research and programming designed to improve the recruitment, retention and advancement of women STEM faculty members at Iowa State. She developed and conducted training workshops for university administrators, faculty members and students.  These workshops explored the psychological and cultural barriers hindering the recruitment, retention and advancement of women scientists and engineers, as well as strategies for overcoming these barriers.  Dr. Fehr also conducted intensive qualitative research analyzing the climates of particular science departments and subsequently worked with those departments over a several year period to improve the work climate for women and men faculty members. 

Sally Haslanger is Professor Philosophy and Director of Women's and Gender Studies at MIT.  She has been engaged in feminist activism and efforts to promote gender equity in philosophy since the 1970s.  During 1993-97 she was a member of the APA Committee on the Status of Women.  Following MIT’s landmark study of women in science in 1999, she served from 2002-2008 on the gender equity committee of MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences and as Chair of the committee from 2004-2008.  In 2007 she presented her paper “Changing the Culture and Ideology of Philosophy: Not by Reason (Alone),” at the APA; it was broadly circulated and published in Hypatia in 2008.  From 2008-10 she worked with the MIT School of Science on gender and race equity, offering faculty workshops to every department in the school.  In 2009 she founded the Women in Philosophy Task Force and has collaborated extensively with others in the United States, Canada, Australia and the UK to promote women’s fair representation in the profession.  She has given presentations on women and minorities in philosophy at many universities, has served as a consultant to philosophy departments, and has spoken at NSF ADVANCE workshops.  In 2010 she was awarded the Distinguished Woman Philosopher of the year by the Society of Women in Philosophy.