Are you a woman over 40? Take math

Now there’s another kind of prowess achieved by women in their 40s that men peak at earlier in life, wrote the Toronto Star March 10.


Not only do female math students outperform men at Ontario’s community colleges, but it’s the 40-something female multi-taskers juggling jobs, families and mortgages who edge out their classmates of either sex at any age, new research shows.

Their secret? They simply might have mastered the time-management skills younger students lack, notes Graham Orpwood, professor emeritus in York’s Faculty of Education. He is co-author of the College Mathematics Project, released Tuesday, which examined 31,000 first-year math students across the province’s 24 community colleges.

“Women in their 30s and 40s who go back to school have had to juggle so many roles that they can organize their time and study independently – life skills many young students haven’t mastered,” says Orpwood, who coordinated the joint tracking project by the York/Seneca Institute for Mathematics, Science & Technology Education.

While mature men do better than their younger male classmates – males scored the highest percentage of good grades in their 30s – at any age, they lagged behind women of the same age by 4 to 14 percentage points, wrote the Star.

Despite the old misconception that women don’t have “a head for figures”, nearly 72 per cent of females scored grades of A, B or C in first-year math compared with 64 per cent of males – with a whopping 86.9 per cent of women in their 40s landing the highest percentage of these good grades.

Schulich prof blames Canadian firms for lack of entrepreneurial spirit

The timid and cautious nature of Canadian business – not government policies or high taxes – is likely to blame for the country’s woeful productivity record, analysts say, wrote The Canadian Press March 9 in a story about the announcement of a government decision to eliminate all tariffs on imported manufacturing machinery and equipment, a $300-million boon to firms that take advantage.

“I think what it boils down to is we don’t have the same culture of risk-taking and entrepreneurship as you find in the US,’’ said Fred Lazar, a professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University.

Lazar believes some tough love by government is needed to get Canadian firms investing in what is essentially their future and by extension that of all Canadians.

He said Ottawa should eliminate all foreign ownership restrictions. In the throne speech, the government said it would look at easing restrictions in a few industries, specifically the satellite and telecommunication sectors, and uranium mining, but offered few details. “Allow outsiders to come in and try to kick-start some degree of entrepreneurship,” Lazar said, adding that Ottawa should also target incentives to encourage new startups.

Rights group wants charges filed against student

Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley should file hate crime charges against a York University student who allegedly called for the genocide of Jews in North America and Europe, the head of B’Nai Brith Canada said Tuesday, wrote the Toronto Sun March 10.

Salman Hossain has agreed to speak with University officials in a preliminary meeting as part of a dispute resolution process, said Keith Marnoch, York’s associate director of media relations Tuesday. “Because of the initial lack of co-operation in this matter, the University is invoking disciplinary action to ensure this student’s next visit to campus is to our [Office of Student Conduct & Dispute Resolution] and not the classroom,” he said.

Marnoch said the Student Code of Conduct allows for resolving disputes on campus. “The reality is that we’re trying to gather information on this,” he said.

Marnoch said the meeting with Hossain “will happen soon.”

  • A former University of Toronto Mississauga student who shocked fellow students with his controversial Internet comments on terrorism two years ago has now been suspended by York University for similar comments, wrote The Mississauga News March 9.

Salman Hossain was suspended after stories appeared in the Toronto media saying he was under investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police for offending hate crime provisions in the Criminal Code. The student has now been ordered to appear before a student disciplinary panel at York.

  • AM640 Radio also reported on the story.

Courts are avoiding drunk driving charges, says Osgoode prof

There was an outcry after prosecutors withdrew criminal charges against Rahim Jaffer yesterday, leaving legal observers wondering what went wrong for the authorities after police intercepted the former Tory MP on an Ontario rural road last fall, wrote The Globe and Mail March 10.

Jaffer pleaded guilty in the Ontario Court of Justice to careless driving, a Highway Traffic Act offence. The Crown dropped criminal charges of cocaine possession and having a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit. A speeding charge was also withdrawn.

Alan Young, a professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said some prosecutors have been plea-bargaining drunk-driving cases to careless-driving charges because of uncertainty with the law.

In 2008, Ottawa eliminated the “two-beer defence”, where drivers argued their alcohol tests were wrong. Now, drivers have to prove the machine malfunctioned. Young said defence lawyers are expected to challenge the new rule in the Supreme Court.

Osgoode appoints new dean

Osgoode Hall Law School has a new dean: University of Toronto law Professor Lorne Sossin. He is to serve a five-year term starting July 1, wrote The Globe and Mail March 10.

Sossin holds doctorates in law from Columbia University in New York and political science from the University of Toronto. He has taught at Osgoode in the past and was a litigation lawyer with the firm now called Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

Music teacher grad grew up jamming with his family

York grad Darrin Cranney’s love for Canada shines through in his music, wrote the Newmarket Era March 9. The local artist (BA Spec. Hons. ’97) credits his national pride to growing up in a large family proud to be from the Great White North. But not only did his family teach him how special it is to be Canadian, it also brought him the gift of music.

He remembers ending up at his grandparents every weekend, jamming with his family. “I took it for granted at the time,” he said. “But now I realize it was really a unique family experience.”

During these sessions, he learned to play the drums, guitar, mandolin and bass guitar and pick up on different styles and tricks while watching family members play. Although being able to play a large variety of instruments proved useful, at the time, drums were his choice.

He continued playing instruments throughout high school and, after graduation, made his way to Nova Scotia to study jazz at St. Francis Xavier University. He finished his degree in York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts while studying under well-known drummer Jim Blackley.

Climate action won’t wait

A new trans-disciplinary research group has been formed at McGill University with research funds from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada. Called the Research Group on the Ecology of Collapse, it comprises professors from McGill and York University in the fields of law, economics, medicine, philosophy, geography, urban planning and environmental studies, wrote the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal March 10.

Here is an excerpt from their Web site:

“Make no mistake. Apathy is not an option. The future looks grim. Runaway climate change, increasing deforestation and soil erosion, sharp deterioration of quantity and quality of available fresh water, bio-invasions including pandemics striking human populations, along with wars fought with ever more destructive technologies in a struggle over diminishing resources, geological and biological – these are no longer the stuff of science fiction novels, but an all-too-real possibility.

"Indeed, the major military forces of the world have begun to take this into account as a central factor in their planning for the future. This latter factor alone makes it even more urgent that universities work fast to produce alternative, non-militarized scenarios with a chance for concrete implementation to slow, if not stop, the degradation before the point of collapse, as well as to begin planning reconstruction after the event.”

York coach’s son gets NCAA attention but chooses Canada

There are [those] in the basketball community who believe staying and playing in the GTA also has its advantages, wrote the Toronto Sun March 10.

Canadian senior men’s basketball coach Leo Rautins…points to Kevin Pangos, the son of York University women’s coach Bill Pangos, who stars for Dr. John M. Denison Secondary School in Newmarket.

Pangos continues to compete at home and, like the others, spends his summers with the Canadian national program. He too gets heavy National Collegiate Athletic Association attention.

Michael Cvitkovic press chief for Canada at Paralympics

While the country may be in a bit of a letdown mode following a couple of spectacular weeks of athletics in Vancouver, Michael Cvitkovic is gearing up for his Olympic experience, wrote March 9.

Beginning Friday, the Ajax resident will be filling the role of press chief for the Canadian team at the Paralympic Games that run through March 28.

Cvitkovic has spent his entire working life on the communications side of athletics, starting as the sports information director at York University, followed by serving as the assistant public relations director for the Toronto Raptors. For the past four years, he has been at Tennis Canada where he holds the role of director of communications & media relations.

On air

  • Mark Winfield, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, spoke about urban sprawl in the GTA, on Rogers-TV’s “Goldhawk Live” March 9.
  • York student Amanda Martone and Claire Barrett-Coppin, operations manager in York’s Office for Continuing Students in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about the planned cancellation by GO Transit of bus service from Newmarket, on Barrie’s A Channel News March 9.