Pictured: Founding members of WIP Women in Philosophy (left to right): Kimberly Blessing, professor and chair of philosophy; Rachael Saathoff, '14, English major and 2013—2014 Outstanding Philosophy Minor; Carissa Handiman, '14, 2012—2013 and 2013—2014 Sterling Scholar in Philosophy and art history minor; Sarah Caputi, '14, 2012—2013 George T. Hole Scholar, 2013-14 Outstanding Philosophy Major and urban planning major; Samantha Wezowicz, '14, 2013—2014 Outstanding Philosophy Major and women and gender studies minor; Leigh Duffy, PhD, lecturer in philosophy.
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."
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."
WIP members at a September 2016 meeting
WIP members at the 2013 Student Research and Creativity Celebration
Philosophy and Humanities major Elsa Brydalski, class of '16, performs her "Socrates Song," at a January 2014 WIP meeting
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