The Future of the Cal Poly Philosophy Department is Female: Amber & Nat

As many readers may know, my time in the Cal Poly philosophy major is coming to an end this spring. I will be graduating and starting my graduate studies in Boulder, CO, and must bid this fair place adieu. However, I do not despair in this, as I know I leave the major in capable hands: those of Amber Miller and Natalie Kerr. They run the Poly Philosophers club on campus, and are both outstanding, methodical philosophical thinkers. I have worked with them in classes before and am impressed by their skill, and wanted to know what they had planned for our major in the next year.

On an important note, I must add that women are terribly underrepresented in academic philosophy; the American Philosophical Association (APA) reports that only 21% of philosophers are women. While both Amber and Nat plan to become lawyers, it is women like them who are starting to change those frustrating statistics! I sat down with them to find out more for Her Campus:

HC: Hi Amber, hi Nat—it’s great to be here.

Amber: Always a pleasure to be graced with your presence!

Nat: Thanks for having us.

HC: Let’s start with some broader social issues. The APA reports that only 21% of philosophers are women. Why do you think this is?

Nat: I think it has to do with education, historically, being a tool for social mobility for women. As such, I think there is more pressure on women than men to go to college for the sole purpose of getting a degree and white-collar job rather than a general education. Philosophy is not seen as a major that promises stable jobs, so I think it is not taken seriously by women who are getting degrees essentially to enter the work force.

HC: That is very troublesome. And certainly not an accurate appraisal of the career potential philosophy offers! As women in philosophy, do you feel at all discouraged by your male colleagues? I know we have some real male chauvinists hanging around.

Amber: After I got used to you, I could handle anyone. Haha, kidding. But no, you know better than anyone that Nat and I can hold our own.

HC: Good, I’m glad you think so. You certainly outperform many of the guys I see in class. Let’s move on. What are your aspirations after graduating—or, as our friends in the College of Business or Engineering put it, what are you gonna do with that degree?

Amber: I’m going to sit around criss-cross on the grass and talk about the meaning of life. I’m actually going to use my fine-tuned critical thinking skills to kick some serious tail on the LSAT this Fall.

Nat: Amber and I both plan on attending law school following our academic career here at Cal Poly — only I thankfully get an extra year to get my stuff together.

HC: As bad of a reputation as they get, lawyers are extremely important. Legal actions against the current administration, for instance, are excellent proof of this. What kinds of law are you interested in?

Amber: I actually want to work for the government, haha. My dream would be to work as a District Attorney.

Nat: I have always aspired to go into sports and entertainment law. However, lately I have been interested in law pertaining to human rights.

HC: Very cool. I hope to read about some important cases coming from you in the next decade! Moving back to our beloved major, what about philosophy do you think has best prepared you for studying law?

Amber: As our favorite Philosopher of Science would put it, I think the most important and useful skill that I have learned studying philosophy is the ability to think and speak carefully and precisely.

Nat: I find that I refer back to our background in logic almost daily. I can look at an argument, put in in premise-conclusion form, evaluate whether or not it is logically valid, and then from there, essentially devastate it based on its flawed logic alone or find an alternative way to show that it is weak.

HC: Yes, those really are valuable skills. People never see it coming. More broadly, what do you think philosophy’s value is in general? Do you think people should have more of an understanding of the problems we talk about, and the methods we employ?

Amber: Aside from the study of ethics, which is obviously valuable for practical purposes, I think philosophy is valuable in that it helps us to become aware of the questions that humans are capable of answering with our intellectual capacities and those that are beyond us. (S/O PHIL 317)

Nat: I think it promotes a way of thinking that is missing from other disciplines. Philosophy introduces us to issues that weigh heavily on our lives and aids us in critically analyzing them.

HC: Ha, I love Logical Positivism as well, Amber. And Nat, that’s true; we do cut right to the meat of many issues only glossed over elsewhere. Enough business: What sorts of things do you do for fun?

Amber: Watch Planet Earth, eat obscene amounts of poke, and sit around under a tree and talk about the meaning of life.

HC: Ha, that’s a lot more than I could handle. Sounds like a good time though. Nat, what kinds of media do you enjoy?

Nat: I can’t go more than a few hours without listening to some kind of music, but you won’t catch me on my phone much. After taking a botany class my freshman year, I’ve been mildly obsessed with plants, so I’ve been appreciating the outdoors more than technology these days. 

HC: I really should try that out. Well, I think that’s all we have time for. Thanks so much for your time this afternoon, and best of luck in your studies next year—though I doubt you’ll need it.

Amber: Right back at ya.

Nat: Best of luck to you, too. We’ll miss you, but not as much as the philosophy department will!