Over at The Philosophy Job Market blog, Rebecca Kukla gave us a tally on how this year's job market is shaping up along gender lines. According to the hiring announcements that Leiter has posted, and with all the caveats needed for such informal word-of-mouth data collection, only about 19% of the tenure-track jobs have gone to women. (N.B.: The APA has promised to collect accurate job market statistics this year, but the collection and analysis will take some time yet.)
Since women have been earning about 25 to 30% of PhD's in philosophy, this looks like there are some social or structural barriers to the hiring of women.
This observation set off a fusillade of criticisms, both on the PJM blog and on the SWIP list. Among women in philosophy, one concern is that collecting such statistics carries the implicit message that women who do not choose to pursue a tenure-track teaching career are somehow in the wrong.
This appears to me to be a misunderstanding of the meaning of statistics (and see Kate's earlier response to similar worries). Statistics can only give us a picture of a collective. They cannot tell us anything, much less anything normative, about individuals. They can't say that a certain woman should have been hired in a certain department, or that a certain man should not have.
Indeed, these statistics are completely mute about how many people with PhD's in philosophy move into (or try to move into) tenure track jobs. It is entirely appropriate that some people get a degree and use it for some purpose other than university teaching in philosophy departments. Or they use it for no purpose--they go into another field entirely.
The statistics only point out that men are hired into tenure track philosophy jobs at a disproportionate rate. And the best explanation for this, based on reams of social science research, is that there is explicit and implicit sexism in academia.
But if you don't see my point, then perhaps you'll find some solidarity here instead:
"CEO Barbie Criticized for Promoting Unrealistic Career Images."