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ERIC Number: EJ903476
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 62
ISSN: ISSN-1938-9809
Discriminatory Rationalization: The Equity/Excellence Debate in Canada
Robbins, Wendy J.
Forum on Public Policy Online, v2010 n2 2010
Virginia Woolf wrote that "the history of men's opposition to women's emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself." Analyzing men's resistance remains relevant to understanding gendered hierarchies, including those in academia. Recently, when women academics brought a human rights complaint against the Canadian government over the discriminatory distribution of prestigious Canada Research Chairs, officials defended the gender gap by pitting "excellence" against "equity." Later, ignoring the complaint's settlement agreement, they established a Canada Excellence Research Chairs Program, appointing no women at all. This illustrates Canadian sociologist Dorothy Smith's observation that, because men have power, they have the power to keep it. Their strategies, which serve to reduce or eliminate competition, include defining differences as deficiencies, exclusionary gate-keeping that uses insider networks and discredits outsiders' claims, custom-tailoring merit criteria, and perpetrating a "chilly climate" through such tactics as harassment and discriminatory rationalizations. Historically used to bar access to women students, arguments about women's "natural inferiority" and "lowering the standard" have resurfaced to justify women's under-representation in top research positions. The equity-versus-excellence construction is refuted by contemporary scholarship on gender schemas and implicit biases, but ultimately the debate is less about knowledge than about power. As Canadian dub poet Lillian Allen summarizes, "no one in power ain't givin' up nothin'." (Contains 1 figure.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada