Minorities in Philosophy: Data Visualized

Minorities in Philosophy: Data Visualized

Data from 860 philosophers who identified themselves on the UPDirectory (previously) as belonging to minority demographic groups has been analyzed and depicted in various graphs and diagrams by Andrew Higgins,  a recent graduate of University of Illinois, specializing in metaphysics and digital humanities, and currently working at Heartland Community College.

The data includes a chart that shows the number of these minority philosophers specializing in different subdisciplines. The biggest areas are value theory, metaphysics and epistemology, and “traditions and movements” (e.g., African philosophy, environmental philosophy, feminist philosophy, pragmatism).  There’s also a table comparing that data with a breakdown of specialties determined by number of PhilPapers articles archived in those subdisciplines. Higgins writes:

“When compared with data from PhilJobs (AOS categories), PhilPapers (article categories), and the SEP (citation network), minorities in philosophy are more likely to work in Traditions or GRIDS+ [Philosophy of Gender, Race,
Intersectionality, Disability, & Sexuality], and less likely to work in History 
or Math/Science.”

Many of the graphs are visualizations of the demographics of various philosophical specializations, both in terms of the numbers of minority philosophers and which groups are most interrelated. For example, among the minorities who identified themselves as working in logic, philosophy of math, and philosophy of science, a higher number of them put themselves in the categories of Indigenous, Multi-Racial, Non-Anglophone Citizen, and a lower number put themselves in the categories of Disability, Hispanic, LGBTQ, Man, Other Non-White.

More generally, Higgins’ writes:

Insofar as this group of philosophers is representative, we see…
–  Very few gay men represented (6 M + LGBTQ vs. 72 W + LGBTQ)
–  Among racial minorities women slightly outnumber men (Asian: 23m/32w; Black: 23m/17w; Latina/o 33m/33w)
–  Very few men with disabilities (2m vs. 22w)
–  Roughly equal LGBTQ representation in Anglophone and non-Anglophone countries.
– Anglophone philosophers are less likely to identify with a racial minority (32% vs. 23%)

The graphs and diagrams are available here, or from the “data analysis” tab on the top menu at the UPDirectory site.

Interested readers should also check out Higgins’ page, Pictures of Philosophy, where he has posted a number of other visualizations about the philosophy profession. For example, check out this massive one, the Sociology of Philosophies.

(via Ruth Chang)

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Matt LaVine
Matt LaVine
9 years ago

I have no idea how widespread this might have been, but it happened to me. I identified myself on the UPDirectory as LGBTQ. I did not identify myself as a man, though. I thought the directory was about underrepresented groups. Men are not underrepresented in philosophy, so I wasn’t even looking for such an identification. I imagine most people are more observant than I am, but I can’t be sure. Just a thought.

9 years ago

Ya, that seems right Matt. So, it’s possible that some of the imbalances seen are just an artifact of the purpose of the directory, not necessarily showing anything about gender demographics in the field, or even among minorities. It might be interesting to see what the numbers look like if we assume the ‘man’ category for anyone who didn’t identify as ‘woman’ or ‘other gender’.