SUNY Buffalo State’s Women in Philosophy (WIP) group is presenting the documentary film Miss Representation, Friday, February 14, at 2:00 p.m. in Rockwell Hall 302. A discussion and refreshments will follow. The event is free and open to the public.
The film, which premiered in the documentary competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, examines how mainstream media contributes to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and authority.
WIP is a relatively new campus organization. Although there is a dearth of women in philosophy programs nationally—most only have 11 to 20 percent female students—at Buffalo State, the women are only three students away from outnumbering men majors and minors.
Kimberly Blessing, professor and chair of philosophy, said that faculty members have always been supportive and encouraging to students of both genders, working hard to create a sense of community by offering student colloquia, public lectures, field trips, and social events. However, she said, there is a new sense of camaraderie among the women.
“I think our increasing numbers of women are in part the result of WIP,” said Blessing. The group stemmed from a gathering the Philosophy Department hosted in the fall to encourage women in the program to socialize and network.
“Both (lecturer) Leigh Duffy and I were amazed at how reluctant these talented and intelligent young women were to call attention to their accomplishments. It was like pulling teeth,” Blessing said. “But after the initial ice breakers, most of the women shared intimate feelings, experiences, and observations about being a woman in philosophy. I began to formulate the idea for a more formal club to support women in philosophy.”
The club now boasts 25 members.
Blessing said they wanted WIP to be a group exclusively for women “to provide the support and mentoring that was not available to us as young students of philosophy, making sure to include plenty of opportunities for women to talk not only about academics, but also non-academic issues, such as challenges facing women in relationships, balancing career and family, etc.”
In addition to Friday's screening, WIP will host two other events this semester. On March 12 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Bishop Hall 242, Rebecca Lloyd Wahler, philosophy professor at Kenyon College, will speak on “A New/Old Solution: Reconceiving Descartes’ Account of Time.” On March 18 from noon to 1:30 p.m. in Bacon Hall 118, Blessing and senior philosophy student Sam Wezowicz will present their co-written paper, “What HBO’s Girls Has to Say About Meaning in Life of Millennials.” The paper has been accepted for publication in the forthcoming book Girls and Philosophy (Open Court Press).
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