Women often lose in office love

Recent career studies suggest more employees are admitting they’ve engaged in some sort of romantic liaison at the office, reported the Toronto Star Oct. 4 in the wake of the suspension of Toronto city bureaucrat Pam Coburn. Ronald Burke, professor emeritus of organizational behaviour at York’s Schulich School of Business, said workplaces with high numbers of female employees tend to be more susceptible to office romances. While the relationships those offices are most likely to spawn involve lower-ranking females and higher-ranking male employees, women, often perceived as home-wreckers, “get punished” more for their actions, Burke said. “There’s a long history of the way women have been seen in these kinds of relationships,” he said. “Men can fool around and women can’t. They [the relationships] are destructive.”

Although Ontario workers can’t legally be fired for office dating, the boundaries are difficult to define, Burke said. Workers who plan on conducting relationships beneath the boss’s nose should be discreet. “People in them had best not be in direct-reporting relationships,” Burke said, adding couples can avoid “image problems” by voluntarily transferring to separate departments. He also said few companies have policies relating specifically to workplace dating and instead refer employees to general codes of conduct.

The invisible mature student

“I went from the front of the class as a teacher, to the back of the class as a student, ignored by most of the others,” wrote York education Prof. Heather Lotherington in an essay in the Globe and Mail Oct. 4. “Now that I have switched places, I am beginning to better understand the fears that beset the mature learner, hiding in the not-very-long grass of the undergraduate classroom, where it doesn’t feel very safe.” During her sabbatical, she audited an intensive academic French credit course.

“I found my best conversational partners to be those who had travelled and experienced life outside of the confines of their own cultural backgrounds. It was not Anglocentricity that closed students; it was their youth and lack of exposure to life,” wrote the 50-something Lotherington. “And now that the new academic year is here, and I am back up at the front of the classroom, I see them sitting in front of me: grey-haired women, portly men, whose faces and body language spell uncertainty. But now I know how they feel, and I hope my lessons at the back of the French classroom will better help me to ease them into our course with respect and grace.”

Smoking not only cause of rising health-care costs

“What I do want to know is, when it comes to suing an industry because it increases health-care costs, why are governments stopping at smoking?” asked the Vancouver Sun’s Michael Campbell in his Oct. 4 column. “Alcohol arguably has a greater cost to society,” wrote Campbell. And “given the current furor over obesity, will the makers of candy bars, chips, soft drinks and the like be next on the hit list?” he asked. He cited research by Peter Katzmarzyk, a former York kinesiology professor, estimating that obesity costs the Canadian economy about $3.1 billion a year and kills 21,000 people prematurely.

On air

  • Moshe Milevsky, a finance professor in York’s Schulich School of Business, discussed how the aging baby boomer generation will affect Canada’s economy, on “Business Morning” on ROB-TV Oct. 3.
  • Saeed Rahnema, a political scientist in York’s Faculty of Arts, commented about a Queen’s Park rally encouraging the McGuinty government to endorse faith-based arbitration courts, on “OMNI News: South Asian Edition” Oct. 3.
  • Debra Pepler, psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Arts and senior associate scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children, discussed teachers being bullied by students and how to stop bullying in the classroom, on Rogers TV’s phone-in show “Goldhawk” Oct. 3.