Ensure the representation of women on the A-Level philosophy syllabus

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Ensure the representation of women on the A-Level philosophy syllabus

This petition had 713 supporters

Zishi Zhang started this petition to Justine Greening MP (Secretary of State for Education) and

Not a single female philosopher is included in the entire course. Please SIGN AND SHARE the petition to change this.

I am a 17 years old AS student who is currently taking OCR Philosophy and Ethics (AS/A Level GCE Religious Studies) Unit G571 and G572. I took a look at the syllabus and I was disappointed to find out that there are no female philosophers included in the course. I have checked the new syllabus redeveloped by OCR for first teaching in September 2016 and once again there are no female philosophers.

This course covers a wide range of time-scale from ancient Greek to contemporary thinkers. Prestigious names such as Plato, Aristotle, Anselm, Descartes, Gaunilo, Kant, Aquinas, Copleston, Hume, Russell, Paley, Mill, Darwin, Freud, Bentham, Singer... They are undoubtedly the most famous philosophers in the world. I totally respect and admire them also thank them for their inspiration. However, there are equally distinguished female thinkers, to name just a few: Diotima of Mantinea, Hypatia, Madame de Staël, Simone de Beauvoir, Rosa Luxemburg, Hanna Arendt, Olympe de Gouges, Sylviane Agacinski, Christine of Pizan, Mary Wollstonecraft... None of them is included, or are even mentioned in the course. 

Of course, one could argue that male philosophers, such as John Stuart Mill can promote gender equality through his works on liberalism. True, but I think we need more direct representation from each gender. 

Paul Jump from Times Higher Education appealed that male domination of philosophy ‘must end’. The University of Cambridge dedicated a page for “Cambridge Women Philosophers”. David Papineau, Professor of Philosophy at King’s College London, asked, “Why are there so few women philosophers?”. 

In the book “Women in Philosophy: What Needs to Change?” edited by Katrina Hutchison, it states that “It is not uncommon in certain fields that when academic women come to talk among themselves about their careers, powerful feelings of frustration, hurt, and annoyance at their experiences start to surface.” Indeed, Sally Haslanger phrases it forcefully: “There is a deep well of rage inside of me; rage about how I as an individual have been treated in philosophy; rage about how the others I know have been treated; and rage about the conditions that I'm sure affect many women and minorities in philosophy, and have caused many other to leave.”

The under-representation of women in the syllabus is not only unfair, but it may also discourage girls and women who want to become a philosopher. Philosophy is a unique subject and it can encourage people to think, to wonder, to explore the truth of life. Positively encouraging girls and women to take part in this subject is vital if they are to experience full intellectual freedom, to have their voices heard and to have a greater influence in today's world.  

Their social status has been recognised by the law, but to truly liberate women, they should be able to think freely. However, how does the lack of representation of women in the philosophy course help to achieve this?

Therefore, I sincerely ask the OCR to consider including female philosophers who have been contributing equally into the cause of rational thinking into the syllabus. 

Please sign this petition to urge the OCR to consider promoting gender equality and also encouraging girls to participate and develop a career into this fascinating subject. Thank you. 


Cambridge Women Philosophers


Petition Closed

This petition had 713 supporters