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The IU Bloomington Libraries' Philosophy collection supports research and teaching in all branches of philosophy.


Philosophy often centers cis, white, Western men thinkers in its history, and women are largely ignored and/or forgotten. Many women have contributed to and advanced the discipline, and continue to do so today. This feature is meant to highlight the contributions of women and those living beyond the gender binary to philosophy across different subjects as part of our celebration of Women’s History Month.

Further Reading and Exploration

Next Steps

As with many of these national commemorations, one month is never enough to fully honor and celebrate the history and culture of marginalized communities, let alone heal the legacies (and ongoing reality) of harm and systemic oppression they've experienced. We recognize that resisting and rejecting misogyny and cisheteropatriarchy cannot be manifested simply through resource lists and guides, however important and well-intentioned, and that justice and liberation for women, expansively defined, and all who challenge and live outside of binary gender is the work of generations. We are, nevertheless, committed to doing what we can to work towards a different, more equitable and caring future.

If you'd like to engage more deeply with Women's History Month, units across the Libraries have created a number of interrelated resources and features to provide more holistic coverage of this commemoration. You'll find those, below:


Prominent Women Philosophers: Ancient, Medieval, & Modern

The ancient period it typically defined as ending around the fall of the Roman Empire.

  • Maitreyi - 8th century BCE philosopher; Indian Advaita philosopher, discussed the concepts of Atman and Brahman and their unity, which is the core of Advaita philosophy.
  • Gargi Vachaknavi - born about 700 BCE; Indian sage and natural philosopher, scholar of the Vedas, and honored as a Brahmavadini, an individual with knowledge of the Brahma Vidya.
  • Theano of Croton - 6th century BCE Pythogorean philosopher; her three daughters also became Pythagorean philosophers.
  • Ptolemais of Cyrene - 3rd century BCE, only known female music theorist of antiquity.
  • Ban Zhao - 35-100 CE, philosopher, politician, and first known female Chinese historian.
  • Hypatia - 360-415 CE, Neoplatonist philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician.

The medieval period is typically defined as being between the 5th century CE to the Renaissance in the 16th century CE.

  • Héloïse d’Argenteuil - 1090-1164, French writer, scholar, philosopher, and abbess.
  • Hildegard of Bingen - 1098-1179, German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, mystic, visionary, and medical writer and practitioner.
  • Akka Mahadevi - 1130-1160, early poet of Kannada literature, prominent person in the Lingayat Shaiva sect in the 12th century.
  • Tullia d’Aragona - 1510-1556, Italian poet, author, philosopher.
  • Teresa of Ávila - 1515-1582, Carmelite nun, Spanish mystic, and religious reformer.

The modern period is typically defined as being from the 16th century to the early 20th century.

  • Anna Maria van Schurman - 1607-1648, Dutch painter, engraver, poet, classical scholar, philosopher, and feminist.
  • Anne Conway - 1631-1679, English rationalist philosopher of the Enlightenment.
  • Juana Inés de la Cruz - 1648-1695, colonial Mexican writer, philosopher, composer, Hieronymite nun, and poet of the Baroque period.
  • Mary Astell - 1666-1731, English protofeminist philosopher, writer, rhetorician, and advocate for equal educational opportunities for women.
  • Laura Bassi - 1711-1778, Italian physicist, academic, first woman to receive a doctorate in science and the second woman to earn the Doctor of Philosophy degree, and the first woman to be a salaried teacher at a university.
  • Im Yunjidang - 1729-1793, Korean writer and neo-Confucian philosopher, one of the first female Confucian philosophers in Korea.
  • Mary Wollstonecraft - 1759-1797, writer, philosopher, and women’s rights advocate.
  • Harriet Martineau - 1802-1876, English social theorist, abolitionist, and advocate for women’s education.
  • Maria W. Stewart - 1803-1879, American abolitionist, teacher, and journalist, first known American woman to speak to a gender-mixed audience, and the first African American woman to make public lectures.  
  • Frances Power Cobbe - 1822-1904, Anglo-Irish writer, philosopher, religious thinker, social reformer, anti-vivisection activist, and women’s suffrage campaigner.
  • Gauri Ma - 1857-1938, prominent Indian disciple of Ramakrishna, companion of Sarada Devi and founder of Kolkata's Saradeswari Ashram.

Prominent Women Philosophers: Contemporary

The contemporary period can be defined as the mid-20th century onward.

There are many contemporary philosophers conducting critical and innovative work in a variety of disciplines. The following philosophers are divided based on their primary area of research, though most are engaged in study across several different areas. A short list of research interests follows each philosopher, along with institutional affiliation (if applicable). Though we tried to include a diverse array of philosophers bringing a variety of perspectives, there is a Western philosophy bias in the following list.

  • Susan Haack  - epistemology, logic, philosophy of science; University of Miami
  • Linda Martín Alcoff  - social epistemology, feminist philosophy, philosophy of gender and race; Hunter College, City University of New York
  • Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins  - epistemology, metaphysics, feminist philosophy, logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of science and technology; University of British Columbia
  • Julia Kristeva - feminist philosophy, linguistics, psychoanalysis; Columbia University
  • bell hooks - feminist philosophy, intersectionality; Berea College 
  • Simone de Beauvoir - feminist philosophy, political philosophy, existential phenomenology 
  • Alison Jaggar - feminist philosophy, social philosophy, moral philosophy, political philosophy; University of Colorado Boulder
  • Alia Al-Saji - feminist philosophy, phenomenology, critical philosophy of race; McGill University 
  • Marilyn Frye - feminist philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, moral psychology of social categories; Michigan State University
  • Kathryn Sophia Belle - Africana philosophy, continental philosophy, black feminist philosophy, critical philosophy of race; Pennsylvania State University
  • Donna J. Haraway - feminist philosophy, human-machine & human-animal relations, political philosophy; University of California Santa Cruz
  • Eva Kittay - feminist philosophy, ethics of care, social and political theory, metaphor, disability studies; State University of New York, Stony Brook 
  • Audre Lorde - feminist philosophy, philosophy of race; City University of New York
  • Uma Narayan - postcolonial feminism; Vassar College
  • Kelly Oliver - feminist philosophy, political philosophy, ethics; Vanderbilt University
  • Rosemary Radford Ruether - theological feminism, ecofeminist theology, transnational feminism; Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
  • Ofelia Schutte - feminist philosophy, Latin American philosophy, philosophy of culture; University of South Florida
  • Lisa H. Schwartzman - feminist philosophy, social philosophy, political philosophy, philosophy of law, ethics; Michigan State University
  • Vandana Shiva - ecofeminism, bioethics
  • Monique Wittig - feminist philosophy, lesbian philosophy 
  • Ewa Ziarek - feminist philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy; State University of New York at Buffalo
  • Sandra Bartky - feminist philosophy, phenomenology; University of Illinois Chicago 
  • Rebecca Walker - feminist philosophy, philosophy of race
  • Luce Irigaray - feminist philosophy, psychoanalysis
  • Hannah Arendt - political philosophy, philosophy of history; The New School
  • Angela Davis - political philosophy, feminist philosophy; Syracuse University
  • Martha Nussbaum - political philosophy, ethics; University of Chicago
  • Simone Weil - political philosophy, social philosophy, epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, aesthetics 
  • Judith Butler - political philosophy, feminist philosophy, queer theory; University of California Berkeley 
  • Seyla Benhabib - political philosophy, ethics, identity; Yale University
  • Susanne Sreedhar - social contract theory, feminist philosophy, moral philosophy, political philosophy; Boston University
  • Iris Murdoch - moral philosophy 
  • G.E.M. Anscombe - moral philosophy, political philosophy, logic, metaphysics; University of Cambridge
  • Kimberley Brownlee - ethics, social philosophy, political philosophy; University of British Columbia 
  • Teresa Blankmeyer Burke - ethics, deaf philosophy; Gallaudet University
  • Joyce Mitchell Cook - ethics, value theory, decision-making; Howard University
  • Ruth Chang - normative ethics, metaethics, action theory, moral psychology; University of Oxford
  • Adrian Piper - identity, moral philosophy; Adrian Piper Research Archive
  • Rosalind Hursthouse - virtue ethics, philosophy of action, moral psychology; University of Auckland
  • Sharon Lloyd - moral philosophy, political philosophy, feminist philosophy; University of Southern California
  • Michele Moody-Adams - moral philosophy, political philosophy, philosophy of law; Columbia University
  • Elisabeth Lloyd - philosophy of science, philosophy of biology; Indiana University
  • Helen Longino - philosophy of science, feminist epistemology, social epistemology; Stanford University
  • Tina Fernandes Botts - philosophy of law, feminist philosophy, philosophy of race; Dartmouth College
  • Anita L. Allen - legal philosophy, philosophy of privacy, ethics, feminist philosophy; University of Pennsylvania
  • Seana Shiffrin - legal philosophy, moral philosophy, political philosophy; University of California Los Angeles
  • Kimberlé Crenshaw - philosophy of law, feminist philosophy, political philosophy; Columbia University
  • Susanne Langer - philosophy of mind, aesthetics; Connecticut College
  • Elisabeth Camp - philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, aesthetics; Rutgers University


Scholarly Articles

Professional Organizations & Funding Opportunities

Source: Women in Philosophy: Organizations | University of Colorado Boulder

Below are guides with additional funding information: