Data on Diversity in (mostly) US Philosophy


The American Philosophical Association (APA) has released a new report on its membership demographics over the past three years. Has philosophy become more demographically diverse during this period? It’s not easy to tell from the data.

demographic-apa-2016

(PDF version here.)

The picture is complicated owing to the change in the percentage of people answering each of the questions from year to year.

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4 years ago

It would have been more helpful if you had analysed this data and given us some conclusions!Report

Dhananjay Jagannathan
Dhananjay Jagannathan
4 years ago

It’s not easy to tell, no, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t be a little easier.

I turned the data into a spreadsheet [1], which has the original data first – in case anyone with statistical expertise wants to analyze it – and then the data expressed in terms of percentages of those who answered each demographic question. Most of this was handled automatically, and I haven’t checked it, so there may well be errors. There may also be lacunas in the original data – the tenure status categories for 2014 don’t add up to 100%, for instance.

From a quick inspection, a few things stand out to my inexpert eye: (A) reporting of gender among all members and among student members stayed roughly constant from 2014-2016 (~75% “Male”, ~25% “Female”); (B) there’s an apparent drop in respondents indicating “White/Caucasian” among all members from 2014-2016 (82% to 76%), but it seems to correspond to those who preferred not to answer when that became an option in 2015 (~6%); (C) the student contingent taken by itself, however, chose “White/Caucasian” less in 2016 (63%) than in either 2015 (70%) or 2014 (74%), with about the same proportion of students preferring not to answer as among all members in 2015 and 2016 (~7%).

[1] https://www.dropbox.com/s/0iz5690ohwpmd27/APA%20Demographics.xlsx?dl=0Report

Kenny Easwaran
4 years ago

Given that faculty careers last decades, and even graduate student cohorts take at least 5 or 6 years to turn over, it would be very surprising if there were any large changes in just three years! There might be a few suggestive trends, but my guess is that unless there’s a huge spike of some sort, we won’t have a clear idea about overall changes until these data have been collected for at least a decade. Great that it’s been started now, and too bad it wasn’t started a decade or two earlier!Report