Join the Team: Searching for New Co-Directors

That time of year has come again, when the MAP UK organisation are looking for some new co-directors to join the team.

We have details of the applications process here, as well as the forms you can fill out if you want to apply. The important deadline to remember is the 1st April, with the caveat that we're very open to extending it if you have personal or other circumstances that would prevent you from meeting this deadline - just let us know.

But in addition to all of that info I thought I'd write a short post about when I applied to become a co-director roughly a year ago myself, so that anyone potentially interested can find out a bit about what it was like for me.

A drive to make philosophy better

I began my journey with MAP UK when one of the previous co-directors, Sophie Stammers, spoke at a conference I helped organise. She gave a great talk about implicit bias, statistics of minoritised groups in philosophy, and about the need for change. It was thanks to her that I was inspired to try to form a MAP Chapter at my own university - a process I've already written about here.

Committing yourself to that kind of responsibility can be tough - like far too many things in academic philosophy, (refereeing, publishing, reviewing, organising conferences, mentoring, etc) it's an unpaid labour - and it's not like I didn't have plenty to be getting on with as a PhD student with a teaching load, and if you're reading this then you might well be in a similar boat.

This has only increased since I've got my first job. Some things I agree to out of a sense of responsibility to the profession, some things in the hopes that it might make me a better philosophy (and/or improve my chances of more steady employment in the future), and some things because I think they're good to do. This latter reason was important to me in applying to become a co-director of MAP UK. It's all very well to talk about hypothetical and possible benefits to your CV, but if I can do something to make philosophy just a little bit more welcoming, progressive, and diverse - and if I can do that by working with MAP UK - then that's the best reason I have.

But that's not to say - at all - that if you don't do this kind of work in philosophy then you don't care about the issues. Most people out there will have plenty of obligations on their plate already. You might do things to improve your discipline in other ways, you might work with other organisations, or you might not have the time, energy or resources to take on that kind of burden. For me, working with MAP was what was right for me and the way I wanted to do my part. That won't be the case for everyone, and that's ok. But if you think it might be, then consider joining the team.

Imposter syndrome

I didn't apply to become a co-director the first time that MAP UK sent out a call for applications after I joined the organisation, and I nearly didn't apply the second time either - it was only after some encouragement from a friend that I gave it a go. After all, I hadn't organised any major MAP events, I was nearing the end of my PhD, and what could I possibly bring to the national organisation anyway?

Still, the other co-directors at the time must have seen something in me - because my application was accepted and I was welcomed aboard with open arms. I wished I'd applied a bit sooner - but at least I applied in the end.

Of course, being a group that aims to represent, promote, and celebrate the work of members of minoritsed and under-represented groups, MAP members are possibly even more likely than many others to experience imposter syndrome.

Sadly, I don't have a cure. But if you're interested in applying anyway, then I hope that this isn't what holds you back. If you're a student based in the UK, and you want to help, then consider giving it a shot.

Lizzy Ventham has recently finished her PhD at Southampton University, and is currently a Teaching Fellow at Trinity College Dublin. Follow her on Twitter here.


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