We know that philosophically inflected theological work and religious studies work is dominated by men who have created an increasingly hostile environment to women. This is especially true for women who do not meet the nuptial theology model of being meek and receptive and especially true for women in theology who are critical of organized religion. What some Americans may not realize is that this is even more true in the UK, where more men receive funding for their PhD work than women in theology and religious studies and where the demand to be orthodox is as if not more pronounced than in the US. The main difference, however, is that you do not have access to loans to fund your academic study in the UK with the same ease you have in the US. Which brings me to the point of this post. Kate Tomas (@CatherineTomas) is an Oxford PhD (DPhil in Oxbride-ese) student studying with Pamela Sue Anderson. I met Kate last week in Dublin at the Mystical Theology: Eruptions from France conference and she was, quite easily, one of the top three papers presented over the course of a very interesting and strong conference. Her work focuses on the role of mystics in religious communities and is genuinely creative, bringing together the kinds of work we at AUFS advocate and support. But she is at risk of being suspended by her university if she is unable to pay her fees for the rest of this year by Wednesday (I think this runs to around £3500). In other words, yet another woman in theology, who should have been funded over yet another male evangelical doing a sycophantic dissertation on how Church Father X would save us from Modern Problem Y, is going to be forced outside the walls of academia, yet another woman in theology is going to be silenced. I think I played my role in convincing her to make an appeal to the people of the blogosphere for help and she has now set up a page doing just that. She is hoping to raise a significant amount of money, but it is a doable amount of money if everyone who reads this page were to give what they can.
Kate has had a difficult year, and it isn’t like she is simply asking for a handout. She is, in fact, currently in the midst of selling all of her belongings to try and raise the necessary money. It seems to me that if we care about women in this discipline that sometimes, when situations such as this one arise, we need to actually open our wallets (those of us who have them, of course) and do what we can to try and keep spaces open for these voices.