University faculty still a man’s world, study finds

Women are dominating university classrooms but still struggling to get to the front of them, wrote the Toronto Star Jan. 20. New research co-authored by sociologists Penni Stewart, professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, and Janice Drakich, professor at the University of Western Ontario, shows that, while the majority of Canadian university students are now female, when it comes to faculty it remains very much a man’s game.

Stewart and Drakich analyzed the most current Statistics Canada data on students and faculty on Canadian campuses and found that, though women represent 58 per cent of those taking classes, they make up fewer than one-third of full-time faculty and 18 per cent of full professors. Their research, which is to be published in next month’s issue of the journal Academic Matters, also found that, despite the increase in female students in recent decades, there has been little change in the gender composition of academic disciplines.

Michael Doucet, president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, told the Star that one of the keys to closing the gender gap will be not only continuing to encourage women to go on to graduate studies, but also getting them thinking about careers in academe. "We’re going to soon reap the benefits of the large numbers of females who are going on to grad schools," said Doucet, a geography professor at Ryerson University.

York-led robot project is featured by IEEE magazine

AQUA, an amphibious robot that swims via the motion of its legs rather than using thrusters and control surfaces for propulsion, can walk along the shore, swim along the surface in open water, or walk on the bottom of the ocean, wrote Computer magazine in a January 2007 cover feature about the project led by York’s Michael Jenkin, professor in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering, Faculty of Science & Engineering. Computer magazine is the flagship publication of the IEEE Computer Society, which in turn is part of the prestigious Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

York study’s Hamilton Harbour cleanup idea is a top priority

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger told a meeting attended by four MPPs, two MPs and several dozen other people involved in the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan that the $90-million cleanup of Randle Reef is one of his highest priorities, wrote the Hamilton Spectator Jan. 22. The group also heard from Ed Hanna, a researcher from York University’s Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability, which has developed a computer model that forecasts governments, business and the people of Hamilton and Halton will benefit to the tune of nearly a billion dollars when the harbour is clean enough to come off the list of Great Lakes pollution hot spots.

Hanna said the model shows shedding the stigma of being "a dirty, polluted steeltown – a change in the way people look at Hamilton – is one of the most powerful forces in terms of benefits" delisting will bring. In explaining the new benefits-simulation program, he said it is only a forecast – "use it as an indication, not fact" – and noted that not all potential benefits are included, only those that can easily be expressed in economic terms.

  • City officials say it’s time for Ottawa and Queen’s Park to commit $30 million each to the $90-million cost of dealing with the huge deposit of coal-tar-contaminated mud around Randle Reef in Hamilton Harbour, wrote the Hamilton Spectator Jan. 20. Water and sewer boss Jim Harnum says that’s not a big price, considering that York University researchers estimate Hamilton would be close to $1 billion richer if it cleaned up the harbour and shed the stigma of being seen as a dirty, polluted place.

York student leads rally protesting US actions in Somali conflict

About 200 Somali Canadians and their supporters demonstrated against American involvement in Somalia yesterday at the US consulate in downtown Toronto. "We are upset by recent developments, especially the use of military force," said Shukria Dini, one of the event’s organizers, a member of the Coalition of Concerned Somali-Canadians and a graduate student in women’s studies at York. "This is not about religion – I’m not supporting Islamic groups. It’s about illegal occupation by foreign troops."

York adds HD capability to upper-year film courses

With the media landscape experiencing a period of unprecedented change, Playback wanted to know how academic institutions across the country were preparing the student of today for the media world of tomorrow, wrote the magazine in its Jan. 22 edition. Brenda Longfellow, Chair of the Department of Film in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, said "a recent grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation is enabling us to transition to ‘true’ HD [high-definitioat the senior undergrad and graduate level for student productions…

"We recently retooled our upper-year courses into specializations in craft and three project-oriented streams: documentary, fiction and alternative film," Longfellow said. "Over the next two years, we’ll be refining these revisions and enriching our production program by hiring an additional full-time faculty member. We are also actively investigating adding a producer stream and formalizing our screenwriting offerings into a certificate or major program."

Arthurs favours decent national minimum wage

Ontario Labour Minister Steve Peters said this week he will examine the idea of an independent commission – already set up in six provinces – to conduct a review of the minimum wage, wrote the Toronto Star Jan. 20. A federal report on labour standards last fall recommended a national minimum wage. "In my view, (the minimum wage) ought to be such that someone working full-time for a year shouldn’t be living in poverty," said Harry Arthurs, a professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, and a labour mediator who authored the wide-ranging federal report on the Canada Labour Code.

English professor’s revised book is still optimistic

In 1992, Bruce Powe, caught up in the euphoria of the births of his children, twins Katie and Thomas, drafted the first version of this book, a poetic paean to the possibilities of his Canada, wrote the Globe and Mail Jan. 20 in a review of Towards a Canada of Light. Now, 14 years later, as the divorced father of teenagers living in a post-9/11 Canada, the English professor in York’s Faculty of Arts once again revisits the hopeful idea of a Canada of light in, a revised, updated third edition of his original work. Despite the darkness that has befallen a Canada embroiled in the global war on terror, Powe remains passionately optimistic about the work-in-progress that is his country, a shining example of diversity and tolerance.

York professor defends Scarborough

What’s in a name like Scarborough? One too many negative connotations, wrote Mark Wiesblott in the Globe and Mail Jan. 20. But Scarberians like Rafael Gomez, who draws on his warts-and-all surroundings for inspiration, have no intentions of relinquishing that identity. "The name won’t go away, because we have an identifiable character that didn’t disappear with amalgamation," says Prof. Gomez, an economics teacher at York’s Glendon campus, whose art collective Think Tank Toronto has nurtured several projects celebrating Scarborough, including a quarterly magazine dedicated to the 54 Lawrence East bus route. "That people still write ‘Scarborough’ on their mailing addresses is a reflection of something positive," he says, "especially when that identity has remained intact, from the Beaches all the way up to Steeles. Reporters are reporting it that way because that’s how Scarborough still sees itself."

Rahnema comments on MacKay in the Middle East

Some Arabs in the Middle East feel Canada has aligned itself too closely with Israel, and as a result has diminished its role as a player in the peace process, said CTV’s David Akin, Jan. 20, in a report that included an interview with Saeed Rahnema, director of York’s Atkinson School of Public Policy & Administration.

“I think in general to be successful, Canadian foreign policy should be independent, should be balanced, and should build on the strength of peacemaking. So I think, unfortunately so far, this has been the reverse of the policy of the present government…. So far there has been lots of damage done, particularly in relationship between Canada and the Arab world, the Muslim world, and I think it’s very important that somehow [the Canadian government] try to be fair arbiters when it comes to the situation of Palestinians and other issues."

Mastering two languages protects your brain

Being bilingual seems to delay the onset of dementia, wrote the Hamilton Spectator Jan. 20. A Toronto study found that patients who spoke more than one language reported memory loss or other symptoms an average of four years later than those who spoke only one. "In the process of using two languages, you are engaging parts of your brain, parts of your mind that are active and need that kind of constant exercise and activity, and with that experience (it) stays more robust," said Ellen Bialystok, psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Health, who led the study. But signing up for French lessons probably won’t buy you the benefits. The bilingual patients studied by Bialystok were fluent in at least two languages and used them virtually every day for most of their lives.

Wolfe comments on Collingwood job losses

Bernie Wolfe, director of the International Business Program in York’s Schulich School of Business, says municipalities should always have an economic plan, wrote the Collingwood Connection, Jan. 19, in a story about recent plant closures in that city. "You have to take a look at what a city’s competitive advantage is," he said. "What skills do they have, should they be re-branded?"

Wolfe cites Ottawa and Markham as examples of communities that have re-branded themselves. Aside from the jobs created by the government, Ottawa also has a growing high-tech sector. "Ottawa has had to re-structure itself," he said. "They have small stuff that actually employs quite a few people." He says Markham’s success has been in the pharmaceutical industry. Wolfe says most communities tied to the automotive industry – especially Ford, General Motors and Chrysler – are struggling. "The Detroit three are continuing to lose market share," he said.

York alumna is a voice of jazz

The daughter of a South African Jewish mother and Mexican father, York alumna Amanda Martinez grew up in Leaside and earned a master’s degree in international business (1999) from York’s Schulich School of Business, wrote the National Post Jan. 20. Today, she puts on some of the most passionate shows in the city, combining jazz, Mexican folk and "bossa-infused Afro-Cuban rhythms." The Post also noted Martinez hosts and produces “Cafe Latino” on JAZZ FM 91.1 radio every Saturday, 4 to 6pm. For her debut recording, Sola, Martinez recently won best world music artist at the Toronto Independent Music Awards. Go to for upcoming shows.

Dance grad was looking for a challenge

Words like intrepid, optimistic and positive come to mind when listening to York alumna Lucie Carmen Gregoire (BFA ‘03), wrote The Gazette (Montreal) Jan. 20. However difficult it might be nowadays to start a dance career – and it’s no easy task – this 27-year-old dancer-choreographer gives the impression that she will prosper.

Gregoire comes from Grand-Mère, now part of the city of Shawinigan. She left to study dance in the big city, but not in Montreal. "I wanted to go somewhere where I didn’t know anybody. I was looking for something challenging and different." So she went to Toronto, partly because she had heard good things about the Department of Dance at York, and partly because she wanted to learn English. She accomplished both goals. York gave her a general education; its dance department gave her a grounding in modern dance techniques like [those of] Martha Graham and José Limón.

Former York hockey player lives in Arkansas

York alumnus and hockey player Greg Rolston (BA ’89), 42, brother of Minnesota Wild star Brian Rolston, played junior-A hockey in the Ontario Hockey League in the early 1980s, won a scholarship to York University and followed his father into the furniture business, wrote the Saint Paul Pioneer Press Jan. 21, adding Greg now lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Pavlo returns to Gryphon

Toronto-born guitarist, singer and recording artist Pavlo [aka former York student Paul Simtikidis] grew up speaking fluent Greek, wrote the Barrie Advance Jan. 19. He attended York’s music program then set out to chart his course. "The problem in the music business is getting the music to the people," he observed, adding that in 1996 when he first started to shop around his music, he was turned down. Record labels held the view that guitar-based ethnic music simply wouldn’t fly.

Pavlo kept his rejection letters, and is now comforted by the fact that he has two gold records and one that has almost reached platinum status. With six albums to his credit, Pavlo won the title of World Artist of the Year at the 2004 Canadian Independent Music Awards, and received a Juno nomination for Best Instrumental Album of the Year in 2000.