Western's hiring practices: diversity and quality?
By Kelly Marcella and Maggie Wrobel
In 1955, the notion of a woman being hired for the same job as a man was simply
unheard of. Now, nearly five decades later, one can't argue we don't live in
progressive times; however, has hiring really become a level playing field for
women and minority groups?
There is a concerted effort on the part of the university to expand the employment
base and guarantee diversity. Maintaining a diverse faculty is important, however,
the key is to diversify the university's faculty and staff, while ensuring the
best candidates are employed at Western.
Western's distribution shows an immense discrepancy between the number of male
and female faculty members, 927 to 279 respectively with 390 males holding full
professorships to only 33 females in the same position.
"I think those numbers reflect reality," says Alan Weedon, vice-provost
of policy, planning and faculty. "It takes 10 to 15 years to get a full
professorship after a PhD," he says, adding this number reflects the small
number of female faculty 15 years ago. He explains the proportion of women at
higher age groups is much smaller, [but with the incoming new hires] the numbers
will flow through the system and even themselves out.
"It's a matter of time. It doesn't reflect the fact that they are not
being promoted. It is a reflection that 10 to 15 years ago there weren't many
females being hired," Weedon says.
"The general theme of the Strategic Plan is to increase diversity,"
Weedon says. "We still have as our first criteria to hire the best faculty."
"It's important to have a workforce that represents our diverse society,
with people from many different backgrounds and with various points of view,"
says Carol Agocs, a Western political science professor and author of the book
"It's hard to know anything about hiring policies at Western because that
information is so decentralized," Agocs adds.
According to Jennifer Schroeder, director of Western's Equity Services, the
University's hiring policies correspond with federal regulations. "Western
is a signatory to FCP (the Federal Government appointed Federal Contractors
Program) and according to the standards of the FCP, we should have a workforce
representative of the Canadian population. If we're not representative of the
population, then we need to [tell the government] why we aren't," Schroeder
Western's Compliance Reports to the Federal Contractors Program state that
women make up roughly 22.6 per cent of all full time faculty members, while
between 7.9 and 13.1 per cent of full time faculty are visible minority groups.
The report further states that in both categories Western's numbers have fallen
slightly short of their goal.
"Sources like Western's employment equity Web site show Western is not
quite meeting its goals in terms of hiring visible minorities, aboriginals and
people with disabilities," Agocs explains. "There's always more that
can be done, especially in terms of offering support and training." "The
university has acknowledged that there are some initiatives that need to be
taken regarding these measures," Schroeder says.
Weedon says that while Western's Strategic Plan sets out guidelines, administration
attempts to provide incentives, especially with regards to the hiring of women.
He explains that in the Senate budget documents there is a fund available to
hiring units to hire people from designated groups which include women, visible
minority groups and persons with disabilities. He further explains these financial
incentives consist of the reimbursement of half of the new faculty member's
salary to the hiring committees.
"It seems to be very effective. In the last 10 years, each year has generally
consisted of 70 per cent men and 30 per cent women being hired, but last year
it was around 50 per cent women," Weedon continues.
"It's important for faculty and staff to represent students in their jobs
and for students to see people like themselves in these positions [because]
it allows them to realize they can aspire to those positions," Agocs says.
-with files from Lorraine Forster