A recent blog post painted a disturbing picture of the event... The anonymous post, on the blog "What Is It Like to Be a Woman in Philosophy?," said: "APA interviewing also means spending several nights up late, standing in uncomfortable shoes in a hotel ballroom, sipping cranberry juice while talking to tipsy prospective employers at that monstrosity we call the ‘smoker.' "
The poster, who said she is pregnant, complained about the informal interviews, the drinks and the dimly lit room. She said the setting of the “smoker” was overwhelming proof of the maleness of the profession, and the one time she was at the smoker before, she was hit on.If you structure an event to be very casual and informal, it has a disparate impact on people who feel more comfortable in a formal structure. When I first glanced at this article, I thought the problem was literally the smoke in the room, which has a genuinely unfair impact on pregnant women. But the complaint is about the reception, the opportunity to mingle, which, we're told "creates particular problems for women." But what are these "particular problems"? Are there not "particular problems" for all sorts of people, as well as particular advantages for others? And by the same token, doesn't a formal, well-lit, hiring committee with one interviewee situation create problems for some and advantages for others? Is the line between who's disadvantaged and who's advantaged really the line between female and male?
Jennifer Saul, head of the philosophy department at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom... said she was glad that the issue was being debated. “It is an incredible throwback to previous era. Even the name is indicative of that. I think it is a humiliating ritual,” she said.Saul reports that “all the women I talk to are appalled” by "the smoker." I wonder if men are appalled too. Why don't we see would-be philosophers who are male expounding on their difficulties negotiating a cocktail party? Is it because they are not troubled, or is it because they are even more discriminated against? Do they dare write about their feelings of awkwardness and intimidation? The males suck it up and venture forward, I suspect. The women, in choosing to make an issue of female sensitivity, imagine they are advancing the cause of women. But are they?
ADDED: "Smoking... the symbolic equivalent of destructively appropriating the entire world."