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Most Excellent Dudes: Gender, Meritocracy, & Media Coverage of the Canada Excellence Research Chairs
Transcript of Most Excellent Dudes: Gender, Meritocracy, & Media Coverage of the Canada Excellence Research Chairs
Federal Government funding for research & development
Policy: Targeted funding
Competitive allocation Seen as economically important; a government focus
Male-dominated fields; women have lower participation rates especially at top of fields
Why is this the case?
2 explanations put forth: 1) because they lack "merit", 2) because there is still systemic bias that makes career advancement difficult. Gender, Meritocracy, & Media Coverage of the Canada Excellence Research Chairs Ideology of governance wherein positions are assigned based on certain "merits", e.g. intelligence, morality, adherence to rule systems, mastery of specific knowledge
Assumption that such assignment is objective according to criteria of merit
Elitism--government seeks elite groups to bring human capital to Canada & improve economy Gender norms/ideologies of masculinity & femininity
Men and women are "different" from each other; these differences form oppositional binaries
E.g. men are intellectual/rational, women are emotional;
Men work in public, women work in the home;
Men are the bread-winners, women are the bread-bakers;
Men are independent, women are dependent;
Men are assertive, women are submissive;
Men are competitive, women are collaborative Critical Discourse Analysis Presentation outline What are the Canada Excellence Research Chairs & how do they fit with government policy?
Who won the chairs and why did this become an issue?
Explaining exclusion: meritocracy and ideologies of gender
Methodological approach: Critical Discourse Analysis
Article corpus and examples
Concluding remarks Rolling out the announcement: Headlines (May 18, 2010) ...Who cares? Why does this discussion matter?
...Women are still under-represented in the sciences. The articles underline the continuing debate over the cause of that under-representation.
...Science has great authority in our society; women's participation is necessary
...Meritocratic assumptions have real-world effects for women
...a few words from Female Science Professor (blogger) Lexicon: "Excellence" and "merit" = references to meritocratic ideal; candidates are chosen for their quality, not their gender Conflicting ideologies-conflicting explanations? Policy & context Theory, framing Method & examples Concluding comments These arguments invoke the idea of systemic effects on women's choices rather than women's inherent lack of merit. [...] it is easy for a man who is passed up for a job in favour of a woman to assume he was a victim of identity politics. When, in fact, the reason he didn’t get the job was because he lost out to a woman who was better qualified – as incredible and amazing as that may sound.
(Sorry, professor, but women do still face hiring discrimination. Globe & Mail, June 3, 2010)
[…] "If this were just an isolated thing, it would be one thing. But this is systemic," Robbins says. "We all know what the Harper government stands for in terms of women's issues, and taking the word 'equality' out and the notion that feminism is dead and women's issues have been solved - it's not the case." (Not One Woman. Toronto Star, May 19, 2010). "SORRY, ladies, but the federal government's Canada Excellence Research Chairs program has nothing to do with gender. It is about merit, about excellence in various fields of research and nothing else."
(Hiring based solely on merit, so naturally there's uproar. Winnipeg Free Press, May 22, 2010)
Predictably enough, women's groups cried foul, for the star recruits for the Canada Excellence Research Chairs program just happened to be all male. Cue the outrage. […] This rhetoric - which, interestingly, came from women's studies departments, not science - reveals how out of touch these critics are with today's women scientists and their fields. Any systemic bias that might have once existed in science is finished.
(When science gets political, long-term knowledge is lost; Globe & Mail, May 21, 2010; Sumitra Rajagopalan) "While women have dominated university programs for more than a decade, they are still outnumbered in scientific fields including mathematics, engineering and computer technology. According to Statistics Canada, women made up 56.5 per cent of full-time university students and 60.7 per cent of part-time students in 2008, but just 24 per cent of architecture and engineering students and 30 per cent of math and computer and information science students."
Winnipeg Free Press. Mia Rabson. "Prof slams lack of women named to plum posts--universities skip female candidates." 19 May, 2010. http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/prof-slams-lack-of-women-named-to-plum-posts-94232679.html Women's place in the sciences in Canada... For most of recorded history, women were formally excluded from the sciences, as they were from public life in general. History of Women in Science Feminist theorists argue that this created structural exclusion that continues to affect women today. Melonie Fullick/ June 1 2011/ firstname.lastname@example.org ...Emphasis on the role of language in social life
...Language is reflexive: it "reflects" and creates/constructs
..Power relations and the role of language in maintaining them
...Language context as part of analysis
(E.g. Fairclough, 1989, 2003) ...40 articles from major Canadian newspapers
...Web version of articles, with comments
...Headlines and full texts of articles
...Press releases ...Each chair worth up to $10 million over 7 years.
...19 chairs at 13 universities. Total budget of $200 million.
...environmental sciences and technologies, natural resources and energy, health and related life sciences and technologies, and information and communications technologies
...All hires were international: U.S., U.K., Europe, Greenland, South America
...CERC administered jointly by the Tri-Council agencies (SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR)
...Canada Research Chairs, Canada Graduate Scholarships, Vanier Doctoral, Banting Postdoctoral, Canada Foundation for Innovation Hybrid expert moving to Mac; Researcher will head new lab aimed at building better cars (Hamilton Spectator, May 18, 2010)
UWO lands lauded brain expert (London Free Press, May 18, 2010)
U of O welcomes renowned prof onboard (Ottawa Sun, May 18, 2010) Critiques: Headlines (May 19, 2010) Big bets and bidding wars: Behind Canada's play for its 19 new academic stars; Man at centre of $200-million talent drive says process was 'like a hockey negotiation' (Globe & Mail)
Stephen Harper, Woman-Hater, Part II: The gripes of academia (National Post)
No girls allowed: Canada’s poached professors all have penises (Toronto Life)
Feds grant big dollars to all-male research group (Toronto Star)
Female academics ‘discouraged’ after women shut out of funding (Winnipeg Free Press) Structural explanations... Meritocratic explanations... For Ottawa, it was one of the biggest bets on scientific research in a generation. But for the man at the centre of Canada's worldwide drive to recruit top scientists, it was a "ballsy" play that at times resembled a bidding war for NHL free agents. (Big bets and bidding wars: Behind Canada's play for its 19 new academic stars. Globe & Mail, 2010 May 19, A1, Steven Chase & Elizabeth Church)
"It's the 'own-the-podium' deal for academics," he said. (Water, quantum computing get big research boost at UW; Waterloo Chronicle; 2010, May 18).
“[The] scientists' appointments mark the endgame in a complicated two-year process that saw some schools outbid in the final stretch by foreign campuses intent on keeping big-name faculty” (Canada's brain gain: $200-million effort lures 19 leading researchers, Elizabeth Church, Globe & Mail, 2010, May 18) Sports metaphors It’s an image the federal government didn’t want you to see: 19 top-notch researchers recruited in an international talent search and not a woman among them. In the weeks leading up to the announcement of Canada’s success in attracting academic stars, the event was shifted from Ottawa to campuses across the country in part to improve the optics, say individuals familiar with the planning. (Why women were shut out of Canada’s science-star search; Elizabeth Church; Globe & Mail; 2010 May 20). A public relations problem Being a female science professor has meant sitting in committee meetings with men who believed that they were there because of their intellectual gifts and wisdom but that I was there because, again, there "had" to be at least one woman on the committee. It has meant having my sentences interrupted and my ideas ignored unless a man expressed a similar opinion.
It has meant being paid less than my male peers.
It has meant having people assume that my series of papers with a particular male colleague must be the work of a graduate student (me) with her adviser (my co-author). [...]
Being a young female scientist meant being insulted, patronized, and intensely criticized with alarming frequency. In a few cases, it also meant being physically and verbally harassed by men who were unable to treat women as professional colleagues.
http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Female-Science/65922/ Competition is gendered as masculine; references to sport (especially hockey, seen as a male sport) reinforce this impression of "framing" as competitive masculinity Imperative to national economic competitiveness in a global knowledge economy […] the high political stakes involved in recruiting big-name researchers at a time when most countries - including Canada - are pinning their economic hopes on scientific advances (Canada's brain gain: $200-million effort lures 19 leading researchers, Elizabeth Church, May 18, 2010).
President David Johnston [University of Waterloo] said […] "The sovereignty of nations will be determined by how well they marshall talent," he said. "Canada will function at the very best level in the world." (Brain Gain; Waterloo Chronicle, 2010 May 19, Charlotte Pring Parkhill).
"The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of supporting leading-edge research and world-class researchers," said Minister Clement. "The CERC program confirms Canada's standing as a global centre of excellence in research and higher learning. This program supports our government's commitment to ensuring Canada's future economic growth by investing in innovation and research capacity in priority areas." (Canada: Inaugural Canada Excellence Research Chairs Introduced at University of Toronto Ceremony. 2010, May 18; Right Vision News; government of Canada press release.) Framing the CERC program Example comments... by Maximum Cat -May 19 2010-10:49 AM
Is it possible these people were selected because they happen to be the best people in their fields in Canada and it just happens they were men? Imposing quotas and making appointments on the basis of gender (or race) is to be expected from the intellectual level of a professor of "Women's Studies," that highly regarded academic field that has produced so many great minds like..uh.. can someone help me out here? (National Post)
by MikeMurphy -May 19 2010-10:56 AM
You said it better than any man could. I get a kick out of these Womyn's Studies bird course teachers. Can you name me one real world - non-professional feminist job - that requires this faculty's academic brilliance.When they invent research chairs for the Study of Feminist Recruitment, which is the main theme of these Womyn's Studies courses then Robbin's can apply. She might even be qualified. (National Post)
Sid1959 May 19, 2010 8:33 AM outraged?
How would you feel if you deserved an award or commendation based on your merit, but were denied it because special visible groups of people, with special status (in this case, women), were awarded it BECAUSE of that status. Now that is something to be outraged about. Either you have earned your salt, or you did not, it is really that simple. Women scholars should be ashamed of complaining about this one. (Toronto Star) grumptime May 19, 2010 8:33 AM The Agenda
There is a pattern to the way the federal government regards women. It is apparent in the awarding of research money, it is apparent in position taken on a woman's right to choose and it is informed by an ideology that in general excludes those who disagree. Women must take this agenda into account and vote for an alternative to the Harper government - while they still are allowed to do so. (Toronto Star)
RoedyGreen wrote:Posted 2010/06/02 at 6:34 AM ET
In the early days of computer science, there were lots of women, but the field developed the reputation as being exclusive to male geeks. In my day the engineering faculty had only a handful of women who were hazied mercilessly by the males. It took a very tough woman to put up with it. That social pressure is likely what is discouraging women scientists. (CBCQuirks)
sv May 19, 2010 9:33 AM Plus ca change
The old boys network still works, which should be of great comfort to both the Tories and the many commentators on this story whingeing about the evils of womens' equality. It might help though to get the facts straight. This was not an open competition. Universities had to first compete to get the opportunity to host the chair positions, then had to nominate suitable candidates. No women were nominated. There is no shortage of good women in science (3 won the Nobel Prize this year). There is however, a serious shortage of insight at the top of our institutions, which seek to educate ever growing numbers of our youth, including our daughters. Way to go fellas. (Toronto Star) Example comments... Thank you for your time! Melonie Fullick
Faculty of Education, York University
On Twitter: @qui_oui
http://speculative-diction.blogspot.com/ Final words from blogger "Female Science Professor": http://www.cerc.gc.ca/hp-pa-eng.shtml