Women storm Canada’s ivory towers

They’re not yet equal in pay or in power, but female professors have stormed Canada’s ivory tower, reported the Toronto Star Feb. 25. The number of women working as full-time university teachers jumped by more than 50 per cent between 1990 and 2003 to 11,000, or 30 per cent of all full-time faculty, a new study by Statistics Canada shows. Women now represent roughly four of every 10 new professors hired, said the study, and their numbers are climbing even in the traditional male enclaves of engineering and math. And while women still earn about five per cent less than male colleagues in comparable jobs and are far less likely than men to hold top ranks, women say the tweedy old halls of academe have become a much less macho culture. “We’ve come a long way from 1988 when male colleagues joked about my pregnancy,” said York University’s Sheila Embleton, vice-president of academic affairs. “That would never happen today, but back in the ’80s, universities were a real male club in every way. You’d suggest an idea in a meeting and be met with silence – and then two minutes later some man would say the same thing and get all sorts of credit.”

Our animal others

Could you marry an animal? Sounds like an outrageous question, but it had merit for those discussing animal rights at a conference at Brock University, reported The Standard in St. Catharines Feb. 25. Conference participants brought some unusual questions to the table. As one academic put it, the “ventriloquist’s burden” includes the question of how to speak for animals. Most academics don’t actually call animals “animals,” but “animal others.” “It’s a nice way of saying human and non-human,” explained Gavan Watson, a doctoral student in York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies. “(It’s) political correctness not in the sense of trying to be good but to be inclusionary.”

Watson spoke on the topic Common Wild Animal Others: Children Making a Connection to the More Than Human World. In 2003, he spoke with children aged six through 16 at a summer camp in Algonquin Park to determine how they interacted with the wild animals and insects around them. “Animals play an extremely large role in children’s conceptions of nature,” he said. His research was built around the question of whether children – especially those from urban areas – are missing developmental components of natural education.