All Posts Tagged With: "gender"
Council relied on anti-fraternity stereotype
The Memorial University of Newfoundland Students’ Union has denied official recognition to the Greek Lettered Council, a group run by and for fraternities and sororities on campus. The recognition would have given them access to campus space and funding. When the council voted 10 to four against recognition in October, they cited an academic study that found sexual assault is higher in fraternities.
In other words, they are convicting our local Greek brothers and sisters of crime they haven’t committed. They made their decision based on a stereotype and despite the GLC’s promises not to be discriminatory. I am not a member of a fraternity or sorority but as a fee-paying Memorial student, I think this group should be recognized.
Some say assault response too focused on fear
VANCOUVER – Women at the University of British Columbia are being urged to stay safe, don’t walk alone at night, carry a whistle, ask for a late-night escort.
But some on the campus gripped by worry over the presence of an apparent serial sex attacker are questioning why there isn’t more focus on condemning the crime in the first place.
Despite the good intentions of campus security to inform women of measures to protect themselves, the emphasis seems to be falling on only women, said Anisa Mottahed, manager of the Sexual Assault Support Centre at UBC.
“It’s not speaking to the population in a way that I think it should be,” said Mottahed. “So instead of focusing on the fear piece, looking at the collective responsibility piece is a little more important.”
Prof. Pettigrew considers Rate My Professors
One of the things that professors frequently discuss when students are not around is the whole set of difficulties faced by female professors in an academy, and indeed a world, that has historically been dominated by men.
So I was very interested to see this piece by student Easha Acharya, who argues that female professors have a harder time of it because students are biased against them. The idea here is that students are accustomed to the idea of a male professor, and are thus less comfortable with female profs. As a result, she argues, students see the authoritative male professor as normal and right while efforts to be authoritative by women are perceived as overly aggressive.
I was intrigued by this piece because my own intuitive sense on the matter was nearly the reverse. My sense has been that female professors are viewed by students are friendlier, more approachable, and more helpful than males who are seen as aloof, difficult, and arrogant.
Curious, I gathered some quick data and did some rough and dirty analysis. Drawing on the scores from Rate My Professors (which is already problematic, but provides accessible public data), I calculated the average rating for English professors in my department based on gender. I only considered tenure and tenure-track faculty (which fortunately gives about an even split). This admittedly small and local sample did nothing to support Acharya and only a little to support me. The average score out of five for men was 3.54. The average for women: 3.86. So students seem to prefer the female English profs in my department, but only by a small margin.
But gender, of course, is not the only characteristic against which one might be biased, so I tried breaking down the same numbers along a different line, age. Here the distinction was a bit greater. Professors under 50 scored, on average, 3.96 out of five, while profs over 50 scored 3.4. This might seem counterintuitive. Shouldn’t older, more experienced professors be better teachers? Or are they increasingly tired and jaded? Do students tend to prefer professors closer to their own age (or at least their parents’ age)?
To complicate matters further, these two variables may play off each other. I have heard it said among professors that older women are more subject to bias than their equally aged male counterparts. Where an older man might seem like a wise sage, the older woman is interpreted more and more like an elderly lady whose day is long past.
All of this raises troubling questions for universities. Where precisely are the biases? Do they apply equally in all disciplines? How can they be combated? And most of all, as this piece cited by Acharya points out, is it not another reason to call into question the value of student evaluations of university professors?
Todd Pettigrew is an associate professor of English at Cape Breton University.
Billionaire’s comments renew debate on female engineers
Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla, co-founder of PayPal, CEO of SpaceX and Hyperloop dreamer, once told Maclean’s he didn’t attend the University of Waterloo because there were more women at Queen’s, a fact he repeated recently in an interview with Queen’s alumni magazine:
“It was a close call for me between Waterloo and Queen’s. I was going to do physics and engineering at Waterloo, but then I visited the campus… and, you may not want to print this… but there didn’t seem to be any girls there! So, I visited Queen’s, and there were girls there. I didn’t want to spend my undergraduate time with a bunch of dudes.”
It sparked a discussion on the social site Reddit and an unexpected official response from Waterloo. In a YouTube video, a campus recruiter leans in and addresses Musk. “You’re right. In the 1990s, our women were significantly outnumbered by a bunch of dudes, as you put it, and we’re sorry for that. I’ll let you in on a little secret though. We may have had one or two women you missed.” She then adds, “we’ve spruced the place up,” and the camera cuts to a recruiter spritzing promotional materials with perfume. She then tours the campus and happens upon Canadian Federation of Engineering Students president Lisa Belbeck, Canada Research Chair Susan Tighe, Engineering Dean Pearl Sullivan and other notable females. The message: Waterloo is welcoming to women.
But the video has offended some who say it makes light of the fact that there are still relatively few women in engineering. Indeed, the proportion in undergraduate programs has stayed stubbornly low. It was 16.1 per cent in 1991, hit 20.6 per cent in 2001 and fell to 17.7 per cent in 2011. Filzah Nasir, a second-year student, pointed this out in a commentary criticizing Musk and the video that was printed in the Iron Warrior, Waterloo’s engineering newspaper. “Musk made a decision to attend a university where he would have a better chance of meeting women,” she writes, “because, of course, men go to university to learn, and women go to university so men can have something pretty to look at.” It goes on to say Waterloo should be “embarrassed” that their program is 81.5 per cent male and that sexism is prevalent, evidenced by posters that “terrorized” women two years ago. They showed Marie Curie and said women scientists would “nuke the whole Planet.”
The video hasn’t gone over well with some commentators on Reddit or YouTube either, where some suggest it was made by a feminist “who can’t take a joke” and others criticize the quality.
Belbeck thinks the video has been mostly misinterpreted. “It was to poke fun at what Elon said and people are taking it too seriously,” she says, pointing to the scene where recruiters spray perfume on promotional materials. While she won’t speak for other women, she says she hasn’t experienced sexism at Waterloo and wasn’t offended by either Musk’s words or the video. “I thought it was fun.”
Students talk of a brilliant but sexist professor
News of David Gilmour’s proud indifference to ideas and people unlike him has rocked the Canadian Twittersphere.
Gilmour and his off-the-cuff paean in Hazlitt to macho men of letters earned him attention in the American press and incited the wrath of Jezebel writers and academics eager to point out that the Canadian novelist does not have a PhD (because a doctorate, as we all know, is the prerequisite to a sound and tolerant mind). After that first cringe-worthy interview, Gilmour did himself no favours by attempting to clarify his remarks in the National Post. Again he insisted that those interested in reading the works of women, gays and Chinese people go “down the hall.”
“I don’t love women writers enough to teach them. That’s all I’m saying,” he explained. “What I teach are guys. If you want women writers, you go down the hall. … I have a degree in French literature, and I speak French fluently, but I don’t teach French literature because I don’t feel it as deeply and as passionately as some of the other teachers here. So I actually send people down the hall to somebody who can teach it better. The same thing goes for German writers, for women writers, for gay writers, for Chinese writers.”
Down the hall … it’s a big theme in Gilmour’s worldview. It’s also, I’m assuming, as a gay female writer, where he thinks I belong.
So who exactly is down the hall? I decided to find out.
Old Instagram posts emerge after criticism of CFS agendas
When students at the University of Manitoba got their Students’ Union agendas this fall, missing were the pages dedicated to the Canadian Federation of Students and its Manitoba branch, lobbying groups all students at the Winnipeg school pay mandatory fees to each year.
Al Turnbull, UMSU’s new football-playing president, says his executive ripped the CFS material out of every single book by hand as a political protest, “to try and send a message to the national and provincial components [of CFS] that what they’re doing isn’t right.”
Turnbull is angry that, in the final days of previous president Bilan Arte’s term, UMSU contracted with the CFS to produce agendas for $60,000. Not only did Turnbull see that as too high a price but he thought the decision should have been left to the new executive, as it was the year before. He also says it was wrong for Arte to sign because, after losing the UMSU election to him, she ran for and won the chair seat of CFS Manitoba.
Reaction to SMU chant brings to mind Mao… and elephants
I’m not the sort of person to justify one wrong with another—well, actually I am, so stop reading now or hang in—but to invoke a hackneyed bit of rhetoric, am I the only person in Canada who thinks the frosh controversy utterly daft? Initiation rites at Halifax’s St. Mary’s University include chants. This year’s song sheet had a vulgar golden oldie that till now has barely caused a ripple. Last week the same lyrics became a tsunami, perhaps because Nova Scotia is, well, far northeast and has never heard of Miley Cyrus twerking.
If you’re not familiar with the lyrics in question, I can tell you it takes some googling. CBC’s dead-serious talking heads pronounced the words to be the end of civilization as they knew it, but daintily avoided saying them—very twee. My faith in the great Canadian people holds we have a low enough sex drive and high enough moral standard to read them without engaging in rape and pillage: “Y is for your sister, O is for oh so tight, U is for underage, N is for no consent, G for grab that ass, SMU boys we like them young.” Not uplifting reading, not Yeats and not the much-honoured poet Philip Larkin, though it brings to mind his line, “They f–k you up your mum and dad,” which, had Larkin known him, might also have included the name of Colin Dodds, the president of SMU, who, on hearing the chant, exclaimed, “What do you think I feel?” and then answered his own question with, “I feel sick to my stomach.”
Saint Mary’s frosh chanted about non-consensual sex
HALIFAX – About 200 students rallied on the campus of Saint Mary’s University in Halifax today, saying it’s time for young people to talk openly about consent, sex and gender equality.
The rally comes a week after the university made headlines for a chant that promoted non-consensual sex with young girls, prompting the president of the student union to resign from his post.
The chant, captured on video and posted on social media, was sung at a frosh-week event for about 400 new students at the school.
Lewis Rendell, a student who helped organize the rally, says rape culture and victim-blaming is a societal problem that extends beyond the university.
Saint Mary’s University isn’t the only Canadian school to come under fire for offensive activities and events.
Two student executives with the University of British Columbia’s commerce undergraduate society quit Wednesday after a chant similar to the one sung in Halifax was recited at a frosh-week event.
On Tuesday, the engineering society at the Memorial University of Newfoundland apologized for handing out beer mugs with a sexually suggestive message at an off-campus student party.
In response to the outcry over the chant, Saint Mary’s University announced a special panel this week that will look at ways to prevent sexual harassment on campus.
Commerce society student leaders resign
VANCOUVER – Two student executives with the University of British Columbia’s commerce undergraduate society have quit and the annual frosh orientation will end after students at the Sauder School of Business took part in a chant that appeared to endorse rape.
President Enzo Woo said in a news release Wednesday the performance of the offensive chant at the society’s orientation event on the Labour Day weekend should never have happened.
He said the fact the chant is tradition isn’t an excuse and doesn’t make the offense less serious.
“I am deeply remorseful at what has transpired. It would be naive to think that these problems can be solved overnight, but we have an opportunity moving forward to institute a culture of recovery and acceptance,” Woo said.
“If She’s Thirsty, Give her the D…”
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The dean of engineering for Memorial University of Newfoundland says there will be consequences for a sexualized beer mug that has prompted the school’s engineering society to apologize.
Greg Naterer said Tuesday he’s disturbed by the mugs selected by the society for a recent student party off-campus.
“I will be investigating within the university further, there will be appropriate measures taken and there will be consequences,” he said in an interview.
The yellow souvenir mugs feature a cartoon image of a barely dressed woman and the words: “If She’s Thirsty … Give her the … D (DAY).”
The words play on the party’s D-Day theme and refer to a phrase that originates from a pornography website and its use in stand-up comedy. The D represents the first letter of a slang term for penis.
Orientation leaders apologize for jokes about sexual assault
HALIFAX – A spokesman for Saint Mary’s University in Halifax says senior administrators were shocked after seeing a video of students in a frosh-week chant condoning non-consensual sex with underage girls.
Steve Proctor says the “sexist and offensive” chant posted on Instagram was led by student orientation leaders at the campus.
Proctor says the Labour Day incident occurred just days after senior school administrators and police met with student union officials and orientation organizers stressing the importance of discouraging sexism and sexual assault during frosh week.
“We were surprised,” he said in an interview.
“The senior director of student services had met with the (student) executive and the organizing committee … and spoke about these very issues and the need to be respectful.”
How fathers’ rights advocates spawned a vitriolic movement
When Earl Silverman was found dead, hanging from the rafters of his garage after an apparent suicide, those who knew him best said he had died from indifference. For the last five years, Silverman had owned Canada’s only shelter for men, taking battered husbands and their children into his own house in Calgary so they could escape abusive wives. A soft-spoken man in his late 50s, Silverman was inspired to start his shelter after leaving his own wife, who he claimed abused him physically and emotionally during their 20-year marriage, but he was unable to find a shelter that would admit him. In March, Silverman had closed his shelter, sold his home and filed for bankruptcy. On April 27 his body was found, along with a four-page suicide note—in which he allegedly blamed the federal and provincial governments for indifference toward the suffering of men.
“That note was his final attempt to get his story on the record,” says Karen Straughan, an Edmonton-based writer, activist and friend of Silverman’s. “During his life, he was always silenced, so I think this was one last, desperate attempt to be heard.”
And he was heard. As soon as the details of Silverman’s death were released by Calgary police, the news began to travel swiftly through the Internet. Hundreds of websites and message boards devoted to men’s rights caught onto the story. Popular sites like A Voice for Men and the men’s rights forums on Reddit and 4chan were flooded with messages about Silverman’s struggle and demise. Many of those who commented online had never heard of Silverman while he was alive, but after his death they felt compelled to share their feelings of grief, frustration and anger.
Professor Pettigrew on watching a discipline come of age
It was recently pointed out to me that the new director of the Institute of Women’s Studies at the University of Ottawa is a man, Michael Orsini. According to this interview, Orsini thought there might be flack from fellow scholars. Instead, got only bad jokes in the elevator. Not only do I not have a problem with a man running a Women’s Studies centre, I think it’s a positively good thing.
When I was an English major at the University of Western Ontario in the early 90s, the Women’s Studies Program there was just getting going. The new department was given swanky digs in historic University College and issued glossy ads with an elegant lavendar colour palette. Clearly the university was taking this seriously.
One day I found myself in conversation with a disgruntled friend who was complaining about two students in her Women’s Studies class who were ruining the course because, as she explained, they didn’t “accept that there’s patriarchy” and without everyone accepting that the world had always been run by men for the benefit of men, the course kept getting bogged down in arguments over basic assumptions.
Females dominate in childcare, nursing, admin. assisting
Canada has become a perplexing nation of high education — one in which women have dramatically surpassed men in their schooling, but remain congregated in traditional pink ghettos when it comes to the world of work.
Nearly two-thirds of the adult population reported having post-secondary qualifications in 2011, according to the latest release of data Wednesday from Statistics Canada’s National Household Survey, the replacement for the cancelled long-form census.
That’s up from 60.7 per cent in 2006, and a stunning turnaround from the four per cent of Canadians who had a university education in 1961.
By gender, 64.8 per cent of working-age women now have a post-secondary education, compared with 63.4 per cent of men. It’s the first time females have bypassed males in overall educational attainment. And the gender gap grows by leaps and bounds as the level of education increases.
Far more working-age women than men now hold university degrees — a fact especially true for the younger generation, and even more so in the field of medicine. Females make up 62.2 per cent of the adults aged 25 to 34 with a medical degree — a dramatic shift from previous generations. Among adults aged 55 to 64, only a quarter of doctors are female.
Young women earn nearly two-thirds of medical degrees
Robin Clouston cemented her choice for a future career during time spent in Grade 11 biology class.
“I was sure not only that I wanted to pursue medicine, but I knew that I wanted to deliver babies. And so, I thought that becoming a physician was the best way to do that,” recalled Clouston, 26, who hails from St. John’s, N.L.
Clouston is far from an outlier, according to the latest figures from the 2011 National Household Survey, released Wednesday by Statistics Canada.
Women accounted for 59 per cent of young adults aged 25 to 34 with a university degree, and 62.2 per cent of those with medical degrees — nearly twice the proportion of medical-school graduates aged 55 to 64, pointing to a dramatic increase in the future number of female doctors.
Clouston, president of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students, is set to begin her residency in family and emergency medicine on July 1, a three-year program at Dalhousie University in Saint John, N.B. It’s been a steady stretch of schooling for Clouston, who previously attended Memorial University, where she observed a noticeable gender split within her post-secondary programs.
Find a husband on campus before I graduate? No thanks.
When Anne-Marie Slaughter spoke at the Women and Leadership conference at Princeton University in February, there was at least one person in the packed audience who did not agree with her call for the “next wave of an equal rights revolution.”
That person was the now infamous Susan A. Patton, who spoke at one of the breakout sessions afterward and then wrote a letter to the editor of The Daily Princetonian dismissing both Slaughter’s discussion of whether women can have it all and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg’s suggestion that women “lean in” to advance their careers.
According to Patton, instead of worrying about their future work-life balance, university women’s priority should be this: “Find a husband on campus before you graduate.”
What students are talking about today (April 1st)
1. In a letter to the editor of a campus newspaper, a Princeton University alumna whose sons now attend the Ivy Leage school, has told female students, “forget about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out. Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate.” Susan A. Patton says that Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg’s suggestion that women “lean in” to advance in their careers is missing the point. Here’s a sample of the controversial letter from the Daily Princetonian:
I am the mother of two sons who are both Princetonians. My older son had the good judgment and great fortune to marry a classmate of his, but he could have married anyone. My younger son is a junior and the universe of women he can marry is limitless. Men regularly marry women who are younger, less intelligent, less educated. It’s amazing how forgiving men can be about a woman’s lack of erudition, if she is exceptionally pretty. Smart women can’t (shouldn’t) marry men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal. As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are. And I say again — you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you.
You can imagine the reaction this caused over the weekend. “What an excruciatingly retro understanding of relationships she has,” wrote Susan O’Connor of Nymag.com, to which Patton responded in The Huffington Post, “honestly, it was intended as little more than honest advice from a Jewish mother.” It’s rare that such views make it into print, so I’m certain we’ll hear more on this.
‘Islam or Atheism?’ debate in London ends in uproar
At a University College London debate called “Islam or Atheism: What Makes More Sense?,” the events’ hosts segregated women, men and couples this weekend to please conservative Muslims, reports The Guardian. After three people were told to vacate their seats for not following the gendered seating plan, professor Lawrence Krauss, one of two men debating, threatened to leave. Organizers from the Islamic Education and Research Academy relented, but an uproar ensued after the world’s most famous atheist, Richard Dawkins, asked on Twitter, “who the hell do these Muslims think they are?” Dawkins was called racist. UCL says it will investigate. Here are Dawkins’ Tweets.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) March 10, 2013
Who the hell do these Muslims think they are? At UCL of all places, tried to segregate the sexes in debate between @lkrauss1 and a Muslim
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) March 10, 2013
Decent, nice, liberal people must stop being so terrified of being thought “Islamophobic” and stand up for decent, nice, liberal values. — Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) March 10, 2013
I don’t think Muslims should segregate sexes at University College London events. Oh NO, how very ISLAMOPHOBIC of me. How RACIST of me. — Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) March 10, 2013
What students are talking about today (February 28th)
1. Students at McMaster University got creative crossing their slushy Hamilton, Ont. campus after a major winter storm hit Ontario on Tuesday. They paddled across it in a canoe. Someone made a video and posted it to YouTube where it already has 55,000 views and was shown on air by CBC News Network. Meanwhile in Ottawa….
2. Ryerson University student Sarah Santhosh wants to start a men’s issues group on campus called the Ryerson Association for Equality that would discuss mental health, male youth violence, misogyny, as well as gender disadvantages in education, the workplace and custody battles. “Universities are supposed to be places where any and all ideas are accepted and discussed. Nothing should be too taboo for discussion,” she told The Eyeopener. It’s unclear whether the Ryerson Students’ Union will prevent the group from gaining status considering vice president equity, Marwa Hamad, previously said that, “marginalized or underprivileged student members should be the focus of equity service groups on campus.”
What students are talking about today (February 19th)
1. Brandon University student Mason Kaluzniak left this weekend’s basketball game with free tuition to his Manitoba school. In the season’s final Shoot-out for Tuition contest he was drawn at random and asked to either take a half-court shot himself or assign it to someone else. He choose to give Bobcats Head Coach Gil Cheung a try, who sunk it and won the big prize for Kaluzniak. The video has been shared around the globe and has more than 1.3 million views on YouTube.
2. University of British Columbia Athletics has mandated sensitivity training for 29 student athletes who participated in the @UBCDimeWatch Twitter account that surfaced in 2012, reports The Ubyssey. DimeWatch posted creepy photos of UBC women—a “dime” is slang for a female with looks that are ‘a perfect 10′—and disappeared after being linked to a hockey player in October. Eight of the 29 were deemed in breach of the Student Code of Conduct and some have been suspended from their teams. Athletics isn’t releasing names, however. Litsa Chatzivasileiou, a gender instructor, criticized that choice. “I don’t understand why there’s so much secrecy behind it,” she told The Ubyssey. “If you don’t publicize this, the broader community still feels unsafe.”
3. Here’s another creepy story. A hidden camera was discovered in a co-ed washroom at Queen’s University’s Victoria Hall on Feb. 13, reports the Queen’s Journal. The camera was disguised as a towel hook inside a shower. It was removed, all other residence washrooms were checked and Kingston Police are investigating. No Secure Digital card was found in the camera and an e-mail to staff said it would be “inappropriate” to disclose whether any images were found by police.
4. Students at St. Francis Xavier University are back in class today after a three-week strike that started on Jan. 28. The tentative deal for staff includes an eight per cent salary increase over four years and improvements to job security and health benefits for part-time contract workers and full-time employees, according to CTV News. The student union is already looking for some kind of compensation for missed time. The deal includes five teaching days added to the school year.
5. The University of Regina has opened 10 gender-neutral washrooms on campus by tacking signs on wheelchair accessible single-stall bathrooms that read: “This washroom may be used by any person regardless of gender identity or expression.” Mikayla Schultz, president of the TransSask Support Services, supported the partly symbolic change. Schultz is undergoing a gender transition and told CBC News that the women’s washroom was never comfortable. Other universities in Canada, including the University of Victoria, have a limited number of gender-neutral stalls.