No Women Philosophers in the British A-Level OCR Philosophy Courses? (updated)


A reader brought to my attention a petition from 17-year-old Zishi Zhang claiming that there are currently no women included in the A-Level OCR Philosophy and Ethics syllabus, and calling to change this [see update below]. (A-levels are the course and exam requirements students in the UK and elsewhere must typically meet in order to graduate from high school and attend college. “OCR” (Oxford, Cambridge and Royal Society for the Arts) is one of the examination boards that sets the requirements.)

The petition text also notes that no women are slated to be added in the 2016 updates to the requirements.

The philosophy and ethics qualifications that Zhang is referring to fall under the Religious Studies category and are officially titled “Philosophy of Religion” (G571) and “Religious Ethics” (G527). They are described in this document  (starting on pages 12 and 16, respectively).

Anyone know more about this?

UPDATE: Alison Wood, Chair of Examiners for AQA GCE AS and A-level philosophy, writes in to clarify a few things:

The OCR course referred to in your post is not A-level Philosophy, but A-level Religious Studies. The A-level Philosophy is run by AQA and there are currently women philosophers represented in the content.

We are, however, very mindful indeed that the voices of women have been under-represented in philosophy and we are committed to doing all we can to support raising the profile of women in our subject [philosophy, not religious studies].  To that end, we have been working with the British Philosophical Association to make sure that the work of women philosophers is incorporated into the A-level subject criteria.  This will guarantee that any and every A-level qualification in philosophy will have to include them, as is absolutely right and proper.

The DfE will shortly be publishing the subject criteria for philosophy and we trust that the philosophy community will be as pleased as we are to see the changes which have been made. We look forward to continuing to work with the professional philosophical community to ensure that our A-level in philosophy properly represents the range of people working in this subject area.

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