Society for Women in Philosophy

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Reception after Professor Sharon Street’s SWIP-Analytic presentation “Normativity and Water, The Analogy and Its Limits” at the CUNY Graduate Center, October 7, 2013.

The Society for Women in Philosophy was created in 1972 to support and promote women in philosophy. Since that time the Society for Women in Philosophy or "SWIP" has expanded to many branches around the world, including in the US, Canada, Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Flanders, and Germany. SWIP organizations worldwide hold meetings and lectures that aim to support women in philosophy; some, such as SWIPshop, focus exclusively on feminist philosophy, while others, such as SWIP-Analytic, focus on women philosophers working in other areas.[1][2][3] One of the founding members of the Society for Women in Philosophy was Alison Jaggar, who was also one of the first people to introduce feminist concerns into philosophy.[4] Each year, one philosopher is named the Distinguished Woman Philosopher of the Year by the Society for Women in Philosophy.[5]


Some SWIP archive records were originally housed in the Sophia Smith Collection at the Smith College library (started in 1982 by Kathy Pyne Parsons Addelson following the 10th anniversary of SWIP). The official SWIP Archive will now be permanently housed in the Feminist Theory Archive, Pembroke Center, Brown University. The new SWIP home is the product of the efforts of the Feminist Philosophy Archive Project created in June 2013 and ending in July 2014. The main goal of the FPA Project team, composed of philosophers Joan Callahan, Ann Garry, Alison Jaggar, Sandra Harding, Christina Rawls, and Samantha Noll, was to locate and organize the best possible professional archive for over four decades of SWIP records to be preserved. As of December 2014, the American Philosophical Association awarded the Feminist Theory Archive, SWIP, and the FPAP organizing team financial assistance to aid in the processing and preservation of SWIP materials donated.[6]


  • NYSWIP is a branch of SWIP based in New York. It was founded in 1993. It aims to feature the scholarly work of women philosophers. To this end, it holds the Sue Weinberg Lecture Series, SWIPshop, and SWIP-Analytic.[7][8]
  • P-SWIP is a branch of SWIP based in the American Pacific.[9]
  • CSWIP is a branch of SWIP based in Canada. CSWIP supports women in philosophy, fosters feminism in philosophy and philosophy in feminism.[10]
  • SWIP Ireland is a branch of SWIP based in Ireland. SWIP Ireland aims to "promote philosophy by women, raise awareness of problems faced by women in the discipline, facilitate co-operation between women in philosophy in the Island of Ireland, create links with women philosophers in other countries, promote research by and on women philosophers, organise conferences and meetings on topic of interest to women philosophers".[11]
  • SWIP UK is a branch of SWIP based in the United Kingdom. SWIP UK is an organisation of UK students and professionals in philosophy.[12]
  • SWIP.NL is the Dutch branch of SWIP and supports women in philosophy in the Netherlands and Flanders.[13]
  • SWIP Germany is the German-language branch of SWIP and seeks to "advance the equal treatment of women and gender parity in philosophy".[14]
  • SWIP CH is the Swiss branch of SWIP and supports women in philosophy in Switzerland. SWIP CH is "a non-profit society with the aim to combat gender inequality in the field of philosophy".[15]

Distinguished Woman Philosopher of the Year winners[edit]

Each year, one philosopher is named the Distinguished Woman Philosopher for the year by the Eastern Division of the Society for Women in Philosophy.[16] In response to her 2011 Distinguished Woman Philosopher Award Jennifer Saul said, "I'm deeply honored and absolutely stunned by this. It’s especially wonderful to be recognized as making a difference in people's lives by doing philosophy. For me, that's the highest honor there could be."[17]


Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, published quarterly by Wiley-Blackwell has its roots in the Society for Women in Philosophy.[18]


In the 1980s, while a graduate student at the City University of New York Graduate Center, Mary Ellen Waithe, now professor of philosophy and interim director of Women's Studies at Cleveland State University, "came upon a reference to a work by Aegidius Menagius, Historia Mullierum Philosopharum, published in 1690 and 1692. [Waithe] had never heard of any women philosophers prior to the 20th century with the exceptions of Queen Christina of Sweden, known as Descartes' student, and Hildegard von Bingen, who lived in the 12th century."[19] After she obtained a copy of this book, she discovered that "many of the women [Menagius] listed as philosophers were astronomers, astrologers, gynecologists, or simply relatives of male philosophers. Nevertheless, the list of women alleged to have been philosophers was impressive."[19] At this point, she decided to "create a team of experts to collaborate with...I placed a notice in the SWIP (Society for Women in Philosophy) Newsletter and received a half-dozen responses from philosophers".[19] This collaborative project led to the publication of the four-volume A History of Women Philosophers, published 1987–1995, which includes the following sections:

At the 2002 conference for Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy, Dr. Nancy Tuana asserted the evolutionary theory that the clitoris is unnecessary in reproduction and therefore it has been "historically ignored," mainly because of "a fear of pleasure. It is pleasure separated from reproduction. That's the fear". She reasoned that this fear is the cause of the ignorance that veils female sexuality.[23] The received view, advanced by Stephen Jay Gould suggests that muscular contractions associated with orgasms pull sperm from the vagina to the cervix, where it is in a better position to reach the egg. Dr. Tuana's proposal challenged the view previously accepted by male biologists.[24]


  • Helen Beebee; Jenny Saul (September 2011). Women in philosophy in the UK – a report by the British Philosophical Association and the Society for Women in Philosophy UK. Joint BPA/SWIP Committee for Women in Philosophy.


  1. ^ SWIP Website
  2. ^ About – SWIP-Analytic Workshop Series
  3. ^ New York Society for Women in Philosophy
  4. ^ DeSautels, Peggy. "Alison Jaggar: April 2013". Highlighted Philosophers. American Philosophical Association. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  5. ^ Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog: Call for Nominations: Distinguished Woman Philosopher 2013 (Kukla)
  6. ^ "SWIP Donor Information". Brown University.
  7. ^ NYSWIP Website
  8. ^ SWIP-Analytic Website
  9. ^ P-SWIP Website
  10. ^ CSWIP
  11. ^ SWIP Ireland – Aims
  12. ^ SWIP UK: The UK Society for Women in Philosophy
  13. ^ SWIP.NL Society for Women in Philosophy – Nederland en Vlaanderen
  14. ^ SWIP Germany e.V.
  15. ^ SWIP CH
  16. ^ List of recipients through 2013.
  17. ^ Sheffield academic first UK recipient of women's philosophy award – 2011 – News – Faculty of Arts and Humanities – Faculties – The University of Sheffield Archived 2013-10-21 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Hypatia: a journal of feminist philosophy
  19. ^ a b c d A History of Women Philosophers: Ancient Women Philosophers 600 B.C. – 500 A.D.
  20. ^ A History of Women Philosophers: Medieval, Renaissance and Enlightenment Women Philosophers A.D. 500–1600
  21. ^ A History of Women Philosophers: Modern Women Philosophers, 1600–1900
  22. ^ A History of Women Philosophers: Contemporary Women Philosophers, 1900-Today
  23. ^ Cairney, Richard (October 21, 2002). "Exploring female sexuality". ExpressNews. Archived from the original on December 21, 2011. Retrieved December 21, 2011.
  24. ^ Stephen Jay Gould (2002). The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. Harvard University Press. pp. 1262–1263. ISBN 0674006135.

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