Start-up of The Network
Network for Women and Non-binary people in Philosophy (Originally just Women in philosophy) was founded in 2005 by two female Ph.D.-students who missed a shared platform for sharing experiences. The two women were Esther Oluffa Pedersen, now associate professor in History of Philosophy at Roskilde University and Louise Fabian, now associate professor at Aarhus University.
They met at a Ph.D.-seminar where they participated as the only women, and during the seminar they discussed female researchers’ situation in a male dominated environment.
These discussions resulted in the first network meeting in 2006, held by Danish Philosophical Society’s annual meeting. Here, between twenty and thirty female professional philosophers attended – some of them them were not attending the Danish Philosophical Society’s meeting. Same summer, a founding annual meeting were held in Odense and again, there was a broad support and attendance from many engaged female professional philosophers.
The Network was a reality.
Since the beginning of the network, it has been back and forth with activities. After the first articles were agreed upon, for a couple of years the network functioned regularly with four annual events; an information meeting about Ph.D.-applications, a thesis seminar, an annual meeting with conference, and a semester start lecture.
In 2009, in order to increase the awareness of the Network it was decided to make an open call project proposal at Aalborg and Roskilde University. This resulted in two collaborations. A collaboration with a bachelor’s degree student group from Aalborg University with the purpose of designing a new website, and a collaboration with a graduate degree student from Roskilde University about a communications strategy. This work occupied the Network for a large part of 2010 and 2011.
In 2012 came a collaboration with the Norwegian Network Bergensnettverket for Kvinner I Filosofi. The result was a conference for female philosophers with the theme “Philosophy and the boarder”. Since then, the conference has been repeated annually (with a slight dislocation), shifting between Bergen and Copenhagen.
In 2014, the board of the Network went through a generational change where chairwoman Esther Oluffa Pedersen and vice chairwoman Anne-Marie Christensen withdrew from the board and passed on the positions to new voices. Former Ph.D.-student Nana Kongsholm took over the position as chairwoman.
The following years new faces appeared, and the activities of the network changed in accordance with the large replacement. For the last years, projects and events has been continuously arranged, and some of the network’s regular annual activities are no longer part of the program. The semester start-up lecture and the conference are still part of the annual events.
The work with communication and promotion of the network continues, especially through an updated website and large amounts of activities on social media.
Discussions about the network’s purpose and work
Already at the beginning of the network there were great ambitions for its work; there was a wish to broadly cover academic philosophy with high school students, universities and professions as target group, and there was talk about starting feminist philosophical projects, lecture work and many other approaches.
For the same reason, the network at first had the name “Network for Women in Philosophical Subjects” (KiFF) that was supposed to have a broad approach and also include those women who did not exclusively work with philosophy. In 2015, the network changed its name to the shorter “Network for Women in Philosophy” (NKiF) that also implied that all women who have some attachment to the subject’s many branches were welcome in the network.
In the beginning of the Network there was a great disagreement in the board regarding the purpose of the network. A generational cliff was drawn between the elder generation who had its roots in second wave feminism and wanted to focus on principles and a generation of younger Ph.D.-students and scholars who had a more pragmatic approach to the network’s projects.
The discussions bore witness to the fact that since the 1960s the conditions for women in academic environments have indeed changed, and many young philosophers perceive the principal battle to be won while the practical circumstances lack behind. Since the founding of the network, the board has become younger and thus today, it is the pragmatic approach that is prioritized, even though the principal discussions continually are appreciated.
During the last years, the network’s board has worked with a separation between the actual network and the events that the board and different work groups arrange. The board wishes self-management in the network and prefer to lay as few restrictions as possible. With other words, there are room for both the principle orientated approach to the network and the pragmatic as well, since the network ideally is run by members.
Along with the discussion regarding the purpose of the network, the network has also discussed the question as to men’s admission in the network. After having been an subject for debate for many years, it became the network’s policy in fall 2016, that in a network for women with a purpose to connect women with each other, men cannot be members. Men who sympathize with the association are welcome to indicate their support by following us on Facebook and/or subscribe to our newsletter (see more about this on the frontpage). Furthermore, all activities will as a start be open for all genders, (cf. the networks articles of association).
Finally, it can be said that it is an ambition of the network that its existence and activities in itself will be a part of substantiating the continuing discussion about the network’s role and women’s opportunities, perspectives, and projects in philosophy.
In Fall 2020 at the annual general assembly, this ambition was extended. Here, it was decided with majority that Network for Women in Philosophy should change its name to Network For Women and Non-Binaries In Philosophy (NKNiF). From now on, the network includes non-binary members and board members, and just like the network has worked for many years to promote women’s position in philosophy, the network will now also work to secure and support non-binary people. The decision was taken with a wish to let the network stay relevant and continuously in movement and development.