Women talk about the challenges of academic careers

On Thursday, two panels of female scholars will discuss what opportunities, challenges and accomplishments women in academia have had at York over the past 50 years.

Sponsored by York’s Centre for Human Rights, the event is part of York’s 50th-anniversary celebrations and marks International Women’s Day (though it is scheduled three days in advance of that date). 

Participants will likely touch upon a range of issues, such as women’s rights, social justice, racism, equity, diversity, disability and discrimination, and succeeding in non-traditional careers. 

“We wanted panellists who could reflect on all aspects of women’s lives and professional experiences at York over the last 50 years,” says Linda Grobovsky, senior adviser, education & communications, for York’s Centre for Human Rights, which sponsors the event.

Moderated by York economics Professor Brenda Spotton Visano, the two-hour International Women’s Day panels take place Thursday at noon and 2:30pm in the Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan Theatre, Accolade East Building.

The event will feature a performance by gospel singer and York music student Jenna Burke (right) and a display of art by Melissa Willis (BFA Spec. Hons. ’05, BEd ’06), as well as door prizes and refreshments.

The first panel starts at noon and consists of five panellists:

Enakshi Dua, a professor in York’s School of Women’s Studies, specializes in race and gender, migration, women and development, and gender and community. She is the co-editor of Scratching the Surface: Canadian Anti-Racist Feminist Thought (1999) and On Women Healthsharing (1994).

Neita Israelite, a professor in York’s Faculty of Education and cross-appointed to Graduate Program in Critical Disability Studies, Faculty of Health, specializes in deaf and hard-of-hearing education. Her scholarly interests focus on university experiences of students with disabilities, identity construction of hard-of-hearing adolescents, transition and adjustment issues. As chair of Access York, Israelite serves on York’s Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities.

Didi Khayatt, a professor in York’s Faculty of Education, specializes in equity and social justice. She is the author of Lesbian Teachers: An Invisible Presence and has served as faculty adviser on the Gender Diversity Committee in York’s Centre for Human Rights, and as the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual-queer representative on the President’s Advisory Committee on Human Rights at York.

Karen Swartz (right) is director of York’s Office for Persons with Disabilities. A York grad (BA ’81,BSW ’87, MSW ’96), she is working on her PhD in education with a focus on postsecondary education and disability.

Gill Teiman (PhD ’92) teaches English, humanities, writing and ESL courses in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies and Faculty of Arts. Teiman was special assistant to the president on equity from 1997 to 2004, when then-president Lorna Marsden commissioned her to document the history of human rights and equity at York University as a special 50th-anniversary project. Idealism and Accommodation: A History of Human Rights and Employment Equity at York University (1959-2005) was published in 2007.

The second panel starts at 2:30pm and consists of five panellists:

Patricia Bradley is a professor and coordinator of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing for Internationally Educated Nurses in York’s School of Nursing.

Eileen Fischer (left), a marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, holds the Anne & Max Tanenbaum Chair in Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise. In the area of entrepreneurship, she specializes in reputation and brand building, internationalization and rapid growth. In the area of marketing and consumer research, she specializes in cultural perspectives – how consumers experience, react to, and influence markets and brands. She has worked for IBM and the provincial government.

Marilyn Pilkington, a professor and former dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, specializes in constitutional law, evidence and legal education. She was elected as a Bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada and has served on law reform projects, public policy institutes, and tribunals dealing with human rights, trade and professional discipline. She has also acted as a consultant at home and abroad, particularly in relation to legal education. She is a trustee of the Royal Ontario Museum and a governor of the Shaw Festival.

Marianna Shepherd is an adjunct professor in York’s Department of Earth & Space Science & Engineering. Born in Bulgaria, this atmospheric scientist worked at the Institute for Space Research in Moscow before earning a PhD in earth & space science from York in 1992. She has been a project scientist and principal investigator on several projects for the Canadian Space Agency and European Union’s INTAS program and most recently was a visiting research professor with the Research Institute for Sustainable Humanosphere at Kyoto University in Japan. In 2005, she and 17 co-authors received the Norbert Gerbier-MUMM International Award from the World Meteorological Organization for seminal work on mesospheric temperature trends.

Patricia Wood (right), chair of the Department of Geography in York’s Faculty of Arts, originally trained as a historian. She conducts interdisciplinary research on human rights, diversity, identity politics and citizenship in Canadian cities.

Both panels will be moderated by Brenda Spotton Visano, an economics professor in York’s School of Public Policy & Administration who specializes in theories and policies relating to money and institutional finance with a focus on financial instability and community-based financing. She has served as chair of York’s Senate, chief negotiator for the York University Faculty Association  and as associate dean of the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies. She is a former president of the Canadian Women Economists Network (CWEN/RFÉ) and a member of the Steering Committee of the Progressive Economics Forum. She chaired the joint CWEN/RFÉ-Canadian Economics Association  Special Committee on the Status of Women in Economics and spearheaded the first survey of women economists in Canada.

To attend either or both International Women’s Day panels, RSVP by calling 416-736-5682 or completing the online RSVP.

This event is wheelchair accessible and offers real-time captioning and American Sign Language interpreting.