The ideas in this book developed over a number of years, and benefited from discussion with colleagues at the Workshop on Gender and Philosophy and the philosophy departments at the University of New Hampshire and Dartmouth College. I would like to thank Willem deVries and Lynne Rudder Baker for their useful written comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. My students in the Self Seminar of 2010 gave me generous and thoughtful responses to the ideas in this book. I would like to thank the American Council of Learned Societies for supporting this scholarship with a Fellowship in 2003, and for inviting me to present my research at their Annual Meeting in 2005. I would also like to thank the College of Liberal Arts at the University of New Hampshire for research time supported by the Faculty Scholars Program in 2006.
I owe a particular debt of gratitude to two people who provided encouragement for my ideas about gender essentialism at a time when both the topic and my approach to it might have seemed perverse and unlikely of completion. It is always important to feel you have an audience—even a very small audience. Sally Haslanger has been a constant source of inspiration and support to me as I worked out the details of my view, which does not mean, of course, that she shares it. She is the best kind of philosophical friend. Mark Okrent has supported my work on this book with great personal generosity and philosophical insight, and I am deeply grateful to him.