A lack of diversity – and a will to change!

Since launching the Curriculum Campaign in March, we’ve become aware of a growing consensus that there’s a lack of diverse voices across a range of subjects, not just English.

We’ve heard about inspiring, student-led campaigns, including calls to include more female voices on the A Level Politics syllabus and for representation of women on the A-Level Music syllabus.

We’ve also been fortunate to have the support of Zishi Zhang, a Philosophy and Ethics A Level student, who petitioned the exam board OCR about the fact that no female philosophers were included on the courses he was studying.

Zishi has been kind enough to share some of his thoughts with us on why the inclusion of female thinkers on the philosophy syllabus is such an important issue, which are included below:

“The representation of women in philosophy has been significantly undermined. We need to hear more about theories of female philosophers and we need to examine the world from a different perspective. 

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?”

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, and 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?”

Originally taken from What She Thinks by Zishi Zhang.

Zishi’s comments about the negative repercussions that not studying female philosophers can have echo concerns we’ve heard from students and teachers about the lack of diversity on the English syllabus.

There seems to be a diversity gap across many subjects which needs to be challenged due to the adverse effect it can have on students. But the good news is, with so many like-minded people starting campaigns highlighting this issue, there’s clearly an appetite to make a positive change happen!