• Women in Leadership meeting – November 20, 2018

    On November 20, 2018, a meeting of “Women in Leadership” was held in Plaza 600F. Called by Holly Bolvari (HR), Diane Dupont (Dean of Graduate Studies), and Ingrid Makus (Dean of Social Sciences), the meeting served two purposes.

    First, to report on the SWAAC(Senior Women Academic Administrators of Canada) conference in Halifax in the spring and the Niagara Leadership Summit for Womenheld in the fall. Both deans attended each event along with other women leaders from Brock. The SWAAC conference had a good Canada-wide representation. The conference will be held in Waterloo next spring which will make it easier to have a strong contingent from Brock participating in it. The deans noted that it is important for faculty members to nominate our students for the SWAAC awards. Surprisingly, the NLSW was little attended by Brock staff and students. Women leaders and aspiring women leaders from Brock should have a strong presence at this event. Individuals should also be mindful that “leadership” is not tied to an actual position and that one may very well be a leader in the community without being a “director,” “chair,” “dean,” etc. As registration and participation in these events can be quite expensive, it was suggested that a fund be put in place by Brock to help support individuals wishing to participate who may not have access to (sufficient) professional development funds. This would be a way to encourage individuals to acquire and develop leadership skills that can lead to their advancement in the institution and increase diversity in the leadership of the institution.

    Second, the meeting was a first step toward building a community a practice, that is, a network of trusted advisors. Holly Bolvari is working toward putting in place a mentorship program that will allow for this to be established and provide support for women employees at Brock. The news about the development of this program was welcome by the group in attendance. There is definitely a need for this.

    In addition to these important items, the discussion also revolved around collaboration and authentic leadership as well as issues of how to tackle some of the fundamental problems we see individuals face on a day to day basis. It was suggested that the issues are manifold and that it makes it hard to focus on some problems and work toward resolving them. In addition to this, I would add that everyone is so overworked that it is difficult to carve out time to advance any of these issues one may be able to identify, let alone fix them. A case in point for me is the strong response the launch of the Caucus initially received, only to be followed by waning participation. This cannot be a one-woman effort.

    Perhaps the meetings of Women in Leadership will generate the space required to gain the focus we need and work together toward solutions. Further meetings are planned for January, February, and March. The Caucus is not planning any further action or meeting since those initiatives are now put in place.

    Categories: Blog

  • Addressing inequities: salary raise for women faculty

    The University of Guelph has announced all female faculty members will receive a raise to address an acknowledged inequity in the salaries between male and female faculty members. The story can be found here. The University of Waterloo had done the same 2 years ago. When will Brock follow suit?

    The problem of discrepancies (large and wide) between female and male faculty members with equivalent qualifications is a systemic problem that affects Brock as much as it does other institutions. The university would be well served to acknowledge this and address it. It should also examine the salaries of non-faculty members at Brock and verify whether such inequities also exist there and address them if they do.

    Because it is 2018?

    Categories: Blog

  • Event to continue conversation on sexual, gender and racial violence

    We strive to post as many campus happenings pertaining to this group as possible (in a timely manner) but wanted to direct you to The Brock News, where many of the event stories originate. See full story below.

    A panel discussion being held at Brock this week will aim to tackle difficult topics related to sexual violence on university campuses.

    The Omissions and Erasures: Sexual Violence, Gender Violence, Racial Violence on Campus event Thursday, April 5 will go beyond discussing policies and procedures to focus on areas often considered missed in popular reporting about sexual violence on campuses.

    The panel will include Carrie Bourassa, Chair of Indigenous and Northern Health, and Scientific Director of the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in Sudbury; Hijin Park, Associate Professor in Brock’s Department of Sociology; Zanab Jafry, Co-ordinator of the Student Justice Centre, former student ombudsperson and fourth-year Medical Sciences student; and Judy Haiven, a recently retired professor from the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.

    The event will begin with Bourassa, a Métis scholar, who will critique the exclusion of Indigenous students from most sexual assault policies across Canada, followed by Park presenting on English as a second language students and the continuum of violence.

    Jafry will provide a student perspective on the challenges of systemic and interpersonal racism as they intersect with gender violence, and Haiven will share her recent research on rape culture in business schools.

    The event is the first presented by the Faculty Sexual Violence Working Group, a subcommittee of Brock’s Sexual Violence Prevention Committee that includes members from five of the University’s Faculties. The group’s core objective is to engage faculty in a wide range of disciplines in order to raise awareness about sexual harassment and assault at universities and to unpack the ways these experiences are entangled with racial and gender violence.

    The panel will be held Thursday, April 5 from noon to 2 p.m. in Plaza 600F.

    The free event is open to the public and all are welcome to attend. A light lunch will be served.

    Categories: Blog

  • Misogyny – Thoughts from Kate Manne, Cornell University

    In the wake of the #MeToo campaign Kate Manne, assistant professor of philosophy at Cornell University discusses why our attitudes are still not where they need be and explains that victims of abuse often stay silent because of “Himpathy”, an excessive sympathy for privileged male perpetrators with ostensibly bright futures.
    Often, we choose not to believe them. Yet more bitterly, we do believe them, but just don’t care sufficiently to change our attitudes or actions toward the perpetrator on this basis. The majority of Americans believed that Donald Trump had a long history of sexual assault and harassment. Many of those in that majority just didn’t care enough not to vote for him. 
    Categories: Blog

  • Not a snow day!

    Brock’s decision today to close from 8 to 10 am has caused a lot of anger and dismay. Depending on the area where you live you may have received snow anywhere between 15 and 30 cm. That is a lot of snow. All other schools are closed as are many offices, businesses, and services (long list here). Why is this a women’s issue?

    For many parents who are students or staff at Brock, this means that they will have to miss class or a day’s worth of work because they have to stay home to look after their children. In many cases, this will be the mother’s responsibility. If the father is the one looking after kids while mom heads off to campus to attend class in order to not miss material or marks (on a quiz or attendance) or in order to not lose a day’s pay, she is being put at risk because of hazardous conditions.

    I think we can agree this was a poor decision.

    Categories: Blog

  • Mis-handling harassment complaints

    A very interesting piece can be found in the Chronicle on how Harvard mishandled a sexual harassment complaint and the impact it has had on other women. Is Harvard’s failure to handle it properly the reason for other women choosing to not report inappropriate behaviour? That is the driving question for the piece. The answer is obvious: of course!

    Issues around reporting abound but an institution’s inability or unwillingness to deal with complaints swiftly and appropriately, including consequences for perpetrators that amount to more than “a slap on the wrist,” are more than enough to discourage victims from engaging in torturous reporting processes.

    The Caucus, jointly with the Office of Human Rights, will be hosting an event on harassment policies at Brock and broader issues on reporting in April. Stay tuned for detailed information on this event.

    Categories: Blog

  • Sexual harassment prevention song

    I bumped into this song by Lauren Mayer in my Facebook feed this morning and thought I would share the cheer. While it is not about academia, it could easily apply. Happy Friday!

    Categories: Blog

  • Mentoring in academe

    Mentoring plays an important role in one’s career development, no matter what role one has in an institution. When starting a job, we rely on people already in the workplace to orient us, give advice, and provide support as we learn the ins and outs of the job. Women tend to receive less mentorship than men in such situations. There is not mentorship program at Brock and we would like to explore the possibility of putting in place such a program for all women on campus. More on this soon as we will issue a call for mentors to start building a list of folks willing to enter a mentoring relationship with women on campus. We will also gather information on mentorship programs at other institutions and see what could work here at Brock. Suggestions welcome!

    Categories: Blog

  • The changing face of Brock

    We are starting the new year with two more women in senior positions. Diane Dupont has started her term as Interim Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Cheryl McCormick has started her term as Associate Dean, Graduate Studies and Research at the Faculty of Maths and Sciences, the first woman to take on this role in FoMS. Congratulations to both. It is great to see more women access senior leadership positions which may lead to a new Brock.

    Categories: News

  • Gender Summit 11 – Embracing Pluralism and Thriving through Diversity: a report from Liette Vasseur

    Gender Summit 11 – Embracing Pluralism and Thriving through Diversity – Shaping Science and Innovation, – Montreal, Canada – November 6–8, 2017

    I had the opportunity to be invited to the Gender Summit in Montreal to participate in a panel on “Best Practices: Global Perspectives on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in STEM”, which was organized by Maryse Lassonde, Scientific Director, Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologie (FRQNT) and President, Royal Society of Canada. At the same time, I was representing the Canadian Commission for UNESCO for the reception celebrating the recipients of the L’Oreal Canada for Women in Science prizes.

    The Summit was quite interesting in many respects. The Minister of Science, Hon. Kirsty Duncan, opened the summit as a keynote with Elise Allan from Engineers Canada. The Minister emphasized the challenges not only for women but also LGBTQ peoples to succeed in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) professions. She has added gender equity and cultural diversity in her portfolio.

    It is easy to understand why. In 2014 in Canada, 36 percent of junior-level research positions were filled by women. This percentage drops to 16 percent for senior-level positions. And, of the nineteen Canada Excellence Research Chair holders in 2014, only one (5.3 percent) was a woman. For this reason, all universities in Canada must have their diversity equity plan submitted by December 2017 and, if not, the minister may withhold applications or funding of any new chair.

    Allan mentioned the importance of women doing research as well as taking in consideration women in research. New innovations, such as car safety airbags, that are not tested on women can lead to mortality and greater injuries. This is why Engineers Canada has launched its program 30% by 2030 to increase the number of women engineers in Canada.

    Shohini Ghouse, Professor, Physics and Computer Science and Director of the Centre for Women in Science (WinS) at Wilfrid Laurier University was the facilitator of the session and made a very important observation: there are zero black women in physics in Canada!

    Many people were quite inspiring and demonstrated the importance to discuss these issues in public. Some organizations are moving forward such as American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS), which hosts conferences for LGBTQ faculty members and students to meet and recharge, as explained by Kei Koizumi, visiting scholar, AAAS.

    Albert McLeod, True Spirit Cree, talked about the history of indigenous LGBTQ/Two spirit people in Canada. Because of the residential schools and the Hudson Bay Company, the linkage of indigenous peoples with their mothers was broken. This also restricted the possibility for people to be two spirited. He is now trying to reach out to LGBTQ indigenous people as they are often isolated, leading to a high level of suicide.

    Vanessa Raponi, EngiQueers Canada, McMaster University, was a strong speaker and person who discussed how changing the mentality of engineering schools can help enhance diversity. She finished her presentation by reading a poem that made a huge impact… she herself has had several challenges.

    Some other speakers have shown how some organizations are really trying to make a difference, not only in science but also, and importantly, in leadership roles. Yves Desjardins, CEO President of Via Rail, explained how he has been able to reach the 30% of women in leadership positions at Via Rail and why he is trying to move to 50%. In 2010, the board of directors was composed of 2 women and 10 men while now it comprises of 6 women and 5 men. To get there, he is forcing his team to always ensure that there are at least a few women who are interviewed for any new position. As he stated, we should “not only talk about it but it needs to be enforced. You have to stay on the course. If not, old habits creep back”.

    There were many more presentations and discussions that demonstrated the need to stop just talking about it. There was a clear message that actions are needed and that all organizations should be moving ahead on this. As Ghouse argued, “Implicit bias still exists because of the structure that is more homosocial such as lower salary, hiring processes, etc. We need to continue gathering data in a desegregated way.” This is one step that she is taking at Wilfrid Laurier.

    How are we doing at Brock in these matters? Have we started gathering these data? What actions have been taken? We still need to reflect on these matters.

    – Liette Vasseur


    Categories: Blog