Women declining from high places
By Stephanie Cesca
At a Board of Governors meeting last week, Western President Paul Davenport noted the problem of the declining number of female recruitments and promotions of female faculty at Western.
Davenport presented some disconcerting figures at the meeting, explaining the number of women recruited to probationary, tenure-track appointments was down from 41 per cent in the 1991-93 period to 36.7 per cent during 1994-96. However, PhDs awarded to women at Western were up slightly to 32.1 per cent.
"Where there is a problem is at the senior level positions," said Roma Harris, registrar at Western. "Of the 12 deans at Western, there is one woman," she said.
Harris, however, made note of the lower number of female applicants. The proportion of women who have been hired in relation to the number of applicants is actually higher than the proportion of males hired. Harris also mentioned the breakdown of recruitment in faculties has been studied, which means the university is attempting to remedy this problem.
"I certainly think it's an issue being discussed," Harris added.
Peter Hill, VP-campus issues for the University Students' Council, said this is something that needs to be looked at. "It's a commitment Western and the USC both have to make."
According to Hill, Western has a commitment to ensure merit and eligibility remain the leading requirements for any kind of employment or promotion.
"An important focus of the university is to encourage women to continue on in their doctorate studies," Hill said.
Catherine McKenna, director of the Centre for Women's Studies at Western, explained this sort of misrepresentation in any kind of workplace is not out of the ordinary. "I think this is generally acknowledged," she said.
Fourth-year English student Rebecca Surnar said she does not question the gender of Western faculty. "Sure it would be better if there were more women, but I don't think it's right to regulate how many men or women work in certain positions."