In the month since I first analyzed the figures for gender disparity in philosophy, I've become more convinced that although this inequity should be addressed in graduate schools and the professoriate, the most effective time in the career pipeline to attract women is during the undergraduate years.
The sciences have been very effective at increasing the number of women who earn bachelor's degrees, but their efforts have been widespread, sustained, and well-funded. Two things working against a campaign to address gender inequality in undergraduate philosophy departments are:
1. philosophy is a small major; and
2. philosophy is easily overlooked among humanity and social science disciplines in which women make up a majority of students.
My data, again, come from the National Center for Education Statistics, and the most recent data are for 2005 graduates.
Philosophy is a somewhat smaller major than Anthropology, Chemistry, Drama, Physical Education, or Spanish.
About as many people earn undergraduate philosophy degrees as earn degrees in International Relations, Music, or Radio/TV.
Philosophy is a more popular course of study for undergraduates than is Physics or Geography.
More than 8 times as many students earn a BA in English as one in Philosophy.
Here are how some other fields compare to philosophy in terms of their gender distribution.
Below is the percentage of degree-earners who are women:
Biology & Biomedical Sciences 62%
Foreign Language & Literature 71%
Mathematics & Statistics 45%
Political Science 47%