The Society for Women and Minorities in Philosophy is running a mentorship scheme for undergraduate students.The scheme is open to all undergraduates who are thinking of pursuing philosophy after graduation.
We are concerned by the fact that diversity in academic philosophy steadily decreases at higher levels of study. Our mentorship scheme targets undergraduate students that identify as women or members of a minority group, although we are open to all. An undergraduate is matched with a PhD student based on shared philosophical interests. The role of the mentor is to encourage their mentee to see themselves as a potential philosopher. Mentors and mentees discuss philosophy, philosophical skills, and possibly postgraduate study.
Why we think the mentorship scheme is valuable
Our group keeps in mind a strong focus on research from social psychology concerning implicit bias and stereotype threat. These phenomena work on a subconscious level and lead to underrepresentation of minority groups without any need for conscious discriminatory thoughts. The most effective way to combat stereotype threat, which causes underrepresented groups to underperform, is to provide positive role models to members of underrepresented groups. Our aim is to provide undergraduates at high risk of stereotype threat with a mentor who encourages them to see themselves as potential philosophers. We hope that by achieving this aim, we will be addressing the ‘leaky pipe effect’ – where minorities are increasingly underrepresented in higher levels of academic philosophy.