SWIP UK: Women-Friendliness Recognition

The Society for Women in Philosophy (SWIP) UK aims to end discrimination against women in philosophy. We also endeavour to publicise ideas about how academia can be and is women-friendly by recognising women friendliness in philosophy departments wherever it occurs.

From 2012, SWIP UK have discontinued the Women-friendliness recognition scheme. We urge those seeking ways to improve women-friendliness to consult the descriptions of awards already given; 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 and consult the blog: What We're Doing About What it's Like


Procedure for recognition 2007-2011: The SWIP UK women-friendliness scheme recognises exemplary departments, groups, policies and initiatives that provide support for women in philosophy. Our procedure is to send an email to an administrator at nominated departments, asking them to forward it to all students (undergrad and graduate), faculty and staff at nominated departments. The email asks for feedback of any kind on the nomination and guarantees confidentiality.

SWIP UK: Women-Friendliness Recognition 2011

Women-Friendly Initiatives

Department of Philosophy, University of Michigan

Awarded to the department for proactive measures to improve gender balance in PhD students.

Department of Philosophy, University of Edinburgh

Awarded for the Edinburgh Women in Philosophy Group.

SWIP UK: Women-Friendliness Recognition 2010

SWIP-UK is pleased to announce that this year we are awarding one Women-Friendliness Initiative Recognition. This will be for the *Women in Philosophy Group* currently based at Goucher College (USA).

There is always room for debate over exactly which initiatives and practices are women-friendly, but we judged the Women in Philosophy group to be worthy of commendation. Departments, schools, and institutions seeking to improve their women-friendliness can hopefully draw some inspiration from them.

Description of the Initiative: A group of undergraduate students and faculty at Goucher College in Towson, Maryland (USA) have formed a group called Women in Philosophy (WIP) in order to create more opportunities for women in the discipline and to expand Philosophy's academic remit. The group is committed to feminist mentorship and the creation of a supportive environment in which women can share their work.

The WIP group has put together the first annual Women in Philosophy Workshop, a two-day event, in which they brought together 12 professional women philosophers from all over the United States to present their work. Undergraduate women philosophy students responded to these presentations. In addition, the workshop included a panel-session on Simone de Beauvoir's work and a round-table discussion of the challenges women in the academy face and effective measures to support them.  

The WIP group is currently planning their next workshop and they are thinking of ways in which to expand their mission and goals. They are also changing their name to the Elpis Society. More information about the Society's activities will soon be available at http://elpisociety.org/.


SWIP UK: Women-Friendliness Recognition 2009

SWIP-UK is pleased to announce that this year we are recognising three Women-Friendly Departments:

There is always room for debate over exactly what practices are the most women-friendly, but we judged all of these to be worthy of commendation. Departments seeking to improve their women-friendliness can hopefully draw some inspiration from these.

University of Liverpool’s Department of Philosophy


Contains four women faculty out of 10 full-time faculty members, one of which is the Head of Department. Feminist philosophy is taught at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and the department has two faculty members who work on feminist philosophy. The department has hosted, and plans to host in the future, a number of large feminist conferences. It also hosts the new Palgrave series “Breaking Feminist Waves” and has set up the new Liverpool sex/ gender/ sexualities interdisciplinary forum. The department is supportive of staff with childcare responsibilities.

MIT’s Philosophy Program


Has an impressive placement record of women graduates in comparison to the other “top ten” US graduate programs with half of the graduates who gain tenure track positions being women. MIT also hosts the Workshop on Gender and Philosophy (WOGAP) that is an inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional group founded by Professor Sally Haslanger in 2000 and that gathers people with interests in gender and philosophy from around the Boston area once a month to discuss work in progress and to socialize. This provides a safe and constructive space for women to present work in progress that has a gender/feminist dimension.

University of Utah’s Department of Philosophy


Seven out of 15 faculty members are women with four of the seven full professors being women. Has implemented policies regarding hiring, tenure and promotion that reflect the concerns of young women academics. The department has built sustained and strong mentoring structures for young female academics and graduate students, and is supportive of faculty with childcare responsibilities.

SWIP-UK: Women-Friendliness Recognition 2008

SWIP-UK is very pleased to announce the departments that it is recognising in 2008 for women-friendly accomplishments. This year, we have two categories of recognition: Women-Friendly Initiative, for a particular initiative that is worthy of commendation; and Women-Friendly Department, for departments judged worthy of commendation as a whole. It should be noted that previously recognised departments are only re-recognised if they have added a significant new initiative. (To view previously recognised departments, click here.)

There is always room for debate over exactly what practices are the most women-friendly, but we judged all of these to be worthy of commendation. Departments seeking to improve their women-friendliness can hopefully draw some inspiration from these.

Women-Friendly Departments 2008

(in alphabetical order)

Binghamton University Graduate Program in Social, Political, Ethical and Legal Philosophy


Contains four faculty members who specialise in feminist philosophy, and many others who are knowledgeable and sympathetic; offers a graduate certificate in feminist theory; offers special fellowships for members of underrepresented groups; has a friendly and supportive environment.

Birkbeck University's Philosophy Department


Has an unusually large percentage of female faculty (6 out of 16); has 4 faculty members who work on feminist philosophy; is very open to and supportive of students with childcare responsibilities; offers an evening nursery; is supportive of women students.

Dundee University's Philosophy Department


4 out of 8 permanent staff members are women; 4 out of 5 temporary teaching fellowship appointments in the last 5 years have been women; Programme Convenor is a woman at an early career stage; two staff members have research specialism in feminist philosophy; philosophy staff play a prominent role in an interdisciplinary MA course, "Women, Culture and Society"; dedicated research seminar programme on Philosophy and Gender in 2007-08; major conference on Gender planned for 2008-09; undergraduate Philosophy Society is run by a woman; supportive and egalitarian environment.

Macquarie University's Philosophy Department


Has 50/50 gender balance for full-time staff and for post-doctoral fellows; has 40% women postgraduates; feminist philosophy is amongst the research interests of at least four members (almost 50%) of staff; women hold important administrative roles within the department including head of research, the Directorship and Co-Directorship of a Faculty funded Research Centre, and a recent female head of department; three members of the department have been central in creating a National Review of Staffing by Gender in Australian Philosophy Programmes for the Australian Association of Philosophy, aimed at improving the participation of women in the profession; have introduced a prize acknowledging the best female undergraduate performance; parental leave is strongly supported for both men and women, and 6 months of full paid leave is available – in stark contrast to the provisions required by law; the department practices very flexible time tabling to suit those returning from parental leave to ensure that there are no especially late or early classes; the environment is generally very egalitarian and supportive towards women, and racial minorities. Finally, they are embarking on a project of creating gender-balanced reading lists, and they have recently received funding for a study of achievement and drop-out rates amongst women students.

Women-Friendly Initiatives 2008

(in alphabetical order)

The University of Arizona Philosophy Department's Family Leave Policy


This policy allows new parents (both male and female) to have "alternative" duties assigned to them for a semester during the first year after the birth or adoption of a child. The philosophy department assigns new parents additional research duties in place of teaching, with the result of more time for research and more flexibility.

Hull University Philosophy Department's Annual Mary Wollstonecraft Lecture Series


A prestigious new annual lecture series for prominent women philosophers to speak about their work.

Sheffield University Philosophy Department's Women in the History of Philosophy Lecture Series


A new annual lecture series, discussing women in the history of philosophy.

SWIP UK: Women-Friendly Departments 2007

Below we list departments that are being recognised for women-friendliness. Based on the reports we have received, we think each of these department engages in practices that help to foster a women-friendly environment, and we list some of these practices below. Some of these are vague and of course a matter of subjective judgement—like possessing a friendly and collegial environment—but they are important nonetheless. Crucially, being listed below does not mean that a department has been comprehensively audited by SWIP UK and been found to be women-friendly in every way. Instead, it means that some women-friendly features have been called to our attention, and that we think these deserve to be recognised. We also don’t meant to imply that these are the only women-friendly philosophy departments. We hope there are many other women-friendly departments out there, and we’d like to hear about them! We’ll be issuing another call for nominations in Autumn 2007.

Opinions are likely to differ about which of these ideas are feasible or desirable for a particular department: these are not meant to represent a set of necessary conditions for being women-friendly. (One might, for example, have quite a fruitful debate about whether a department with no feminist philosophy could be women-friendly.) But our hope is that departments seeking ways to be more women-friendly will find at least some of the ideas listed below helpful.

The list below is not a ranking: department are listed in alphabetical order, by university name

Philosophy Sub-Group. Department of Integrative Studies, Arizona State University West Website

Department of Philosophy, Hull University Website

Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University Website

Department of Philosophy, Sheffield University Website

Department of Philosophy, Sussex University Website

Site Content © SWIP UK. All rights reserved.