Potential Causes of the Gender Gap in Philosophy

There is a gender gap in philosophy that can be observed across counties and at all levels of the academic hierarchy. Interestingly, this gap is much larger in philosophy compared to the rest of the humanities. As in other European countries, this phenomenon can also be observed in Switzerland. Although more women than men graduate from high school, the drop-out rate of women in philosophy is much higher on average than that of men. Very similar patterns can be observed in Germany, the United States, Australia and Great Britain. By means of an explorative study at different Swiss universities, we empirically investigate whether this problem is based on structural causes (e.g., gender discrimination, prejudices, stereotyping, lack of female role models, lack of a sense of belonging, etc.) and if so, which causes are particularly relevant to explain the gender gap at the bachelor’s level. To do so, we use survey methods towards gathering data about students’ interests, feelings, attitudes, and preferences when studying philosophy. Our goal is to take a first step towards hypothesis development and -testing on a large scale.