Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Christie Hartley

Second Advisor

Eddy Nahmias

Third Advisor

George Rainbolt


Recent work on women’s underrepresentation in philosophy has focused on a distinction between “in class” and “pre-university” effects as the primary cause of women’s underrepresentation in philosophy. This paper reports from a large dataset (n > 2,000,000) from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program that shows that, of the American students that intended to major in philosophy before they started college, about two-thirds are men. This lends credence to the pre-university effects explanation for women’s underrepresentation in philosophy. This paper will discuss this finding in light of Louise Antony’s “perfect storm” theory of women’s underrepresentation in philosophy. I will argue that a major part of the perfect storm for women in philosophy is a masculine philosopher schema that discourages women from continuing in philosophy even before they enter a college philosophy class. I will also consider two objections to this argument, what I call the “problem of ignorance” and the “transmission problem.”