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Philosophy for Girls

An Invitation to the Life of Thought

Edited by Melissa M. Shew and Kimberly K. Garchar

Publication Date - 12 October 2020

ISBN: 9780190072926

320 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock


This revolutionary book empowers its readers by exploring enduring, challenging, and timely philosophical issues in new essays written by expert women philosophers. The book will inspire and entice these philosophers' younger counterparts, curious readers of all genders, and all who support equity in philosophy.

If asked to envision a philosopher, people might imagine a bearded man, probably Greek, perhaps in a toga, pontificating about abstract ideas. Or they might think of that same man in the Enlightenment, gripping a quill pen and pouring universal truths onto a page. They may even call to mind a much more modern man, wearing a black sweater and smoking a cigarette in a Paris café, expressing existential angst in a new novel or essay.

What people are unlikely to picture, though, is a woman. Women have historically been excluded from the discipline of philosophy and remain largely marginalized in contemporary textbooks and anthologies. The under-representation of women in secondary and post-secondary curricula makes it harder for young women to see themselves as future philosophers. In fact, it makes it harder for all people to engage the valuable contributions that women have made and continue to make to intellectual thought. While some progress has been made in building a more inclusive world of philosophy, especially in the last fifty years, important work remains to be done.

Philosophy for Girls helps correct the pervasive and problematic omission of women from philosophy. Divided into four sections that connect to major, primary fields in philosophy (metaphysics, epistemology, social and political philosophy, and ethics), this anthology is unique: chapters are all written by women, and each chapter opens with an anecdote about a girl or woman from mythology, history, art, literature, or science to introduce chapter topics. Further, nearly all primary and secondary sources used in the chapters are written by women philosophers. The book is written in a rigorous, academic spirit but in lively and engaging prose, making serious philosophical insights accessible to readers who are new to philosophy.

This book appeals to a wide audience. Individual readers will find value in these pages--especially girls and women ages 16-24, as well as university and high school educators and students who want a change from standard anthologies that include few or no women. The book's contributors both represent and map the diverse landscape of philosophy, highlighting its engagement with themes of gender and equity. In doing so, they encourage philosophers current and future philosophers to explore new territory and further develop the topography of the field.

Philosophy for Girls is a rigorous yet accessible entry-point to philosophical contemplation designed to inspire a new generation of philosophers.


  • Provides an introductory philosophy text comprising chapters written exclusively by women philosophers
  • Organised into four sections corresponding to major fields in philosophy--metaphysics, epistemology, social and political philosophy, and ethics--with each chapter providing novel ways of understanding those fields
  • Women's voices dominate the chapters, with nearly all primary and secondary sources coming from women in the history of philosophy and a diverse set of contemporary women philosophers
  • Written in clear and engaging prose while maintaining serious academic rigor
  • Empowers girls and young women as learners and knowers by encouraging them to assess, challenge, question, and affirm their experiences and ideas through the expertise and tools provided by women in academic philosophy

About the Author(s)

Melissa M. Shew, Visiting Professor of Philosophy, Marquette University, Kimberly K. Garchar, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Kent State University
Melissa M. Shew is Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Marquette University. Her expertise and interests are wide-ranging from ancient Greek to contemporary philosophy, philosophy of literature and the arts, and pedagogy. In her scholarship as with her students, she usually finds her way back to authenticity, dialogue, chance, and understanding the power of a moment. Dr. Shew has taught at the university level for fifteen years and also taught for five years at an all-girls college preparatory high school, living out her firm belief in empowering young women and girls through education. She came to philosophy through literature, music, myth, politics, and the arts.

Kimberly K. Garchar is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Kent State University and an associated faculty member at Northeast Ohio Medical University. She found her way to philosophy via mathematics and received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Oregon in 2006, after which she spent two years as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Colorado Denver and Health Sciences Center. Dr. Garchar specializes in American pragmatism, ethics, and clinical ethics, particularly in the areas of death and dying. She has focused on issues of gender and gender equity, both in philosophy and academia, throughout her career.


"Though the volume centers on the idea of initiating girls and young women into philosophy and the tradition of thoughtful Persephone, the text is important for boys and men of all ages because it highlights gender biases and gaps in philosophy as well as recognizes the contribution of female scholars. The essays are well written and interesting, and will be significant in the fields of philosophy, women's studies, and gender issues. The text is accessible for those outside the field of philosophy as well. The etext and paperback are reasonably priced. This reviewer will be employing the book in her women philosophers course. A good resource for those who are interested in contemplation, identity, reasoning, and philosophical thinking... Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; researchers and faculty; general readers." -- Choice

"The chapters are written in an inviting and encouraging style and come close to what I would have liked 'had existed when you were discovering your own questions'. They encourage the reader to think and maintain a healthy dose of self-confidence. Is there more to wish from an introduction to philosophy? I don't think so...To the boys who turn away from a 'for girls' book like this one I would say: 'Come and read it; it will make you guys think more.' My verdict: highly recommended." -- Pieter Mostert, The Philosophy Foundation Blog

"[T]his book is a proof of concept that philosophy loses out when it marginalizes, or when it only treats one kind of life as the default, yet claim to universalise on that basis. The writers in this collection ... invite the reader to wonder, to ask further questions, and to perhaps add their own voices to the ongoing philosophical conversations. Philosophy for Girls provides us with a gift, namely a vision of philosophy as a chorus of voices that is enriched rather than diluted by inclusion." -- Audrey Yap, Philosophers' Magazine

"A fantastic resource and a great service to the discipline and teaching of philosophy. I am both personally and professionally grateful to the editors and the authors for their work. The essays from this rich, inviting, pedagogically-motivated introduction to philosophy will certainly be making their way onto my syllabi and I imagine those of many other philosophy teachers for years to come." -- Rebecca G. Scott, Harper College, Teaching Philosophy

Table of Contents

    Introduction, Melissa M. Shew and Kimberly K. Garchar
    Prologue: Persephone: The Invitation, Melissa M. Shew
    Section I: Self
    Chapter 1: Identity: Being-in-the-World and Becoming, Meena Dhanda
    Chapter 2: Autonomy: Being True to Ourselves, Serene Khader
    Chapter 3: Pride: The Complexities of Virtue and Vice, Claudia Mills
    Chapter 4: Questions: The Heart of Philosophy, Melissa M. Shew
    Chapter 5: Self-Knowledge: The Importance of Reflection, Karen Stohr
    Section II: Knowing
    Chapter 6: Logic: A Feminist Approach, Gillian Russell
    Chapter 7: Doubt: Knowing and Skepticism, Julianne Chung
    Chapter 8: Science: Unmasking Objectivity, Subrena Smith
    Chapter 9: Technology: Experience and Mediated Realities, Robin Zebrowski
    Chapter 10: Art: Seeing, Thinking, Making, Patricia Locke
    Section III: Social Structure and Power Relations
    Chapter 11: Credibility: Resisting Doubts, Reimagining Knowledge, Monica Poole
    Chapter 12: Language: Power Plays in Communication, Elisabeth Camp
    Chapter 13: Race: The Ontological Crisis of the "Human", Shannon Winnubst
    Chapter 14: Gender: To the Binary and Beyond, Charlotte Witt
    Chapter 15: Recognition: Living a Queer-Alien-Mixed Consciousness, Shanti Chu
    Section IV: Contemplation in Action
    Chapter 16: Anger: Embracing the Medusa Trope as an Act of Resistance, Myisha Cherry
    Chapter 17: Consciousness-Raising: Social Groups and Change, TabathaÂLeggett
    Chapter 18: Tzedek: Doing What Must Be Done, Devora Shapiro
    Chapter 19: Empathy: Entangled Human and Nonhuman Relationships, Lori Gruen
    Chapter 20: Courage: Meliorism in Motion, Kimberly K. Garchar