Gender bias and discrimination persist at Canadian colleges


The first steps towards gender equality were made in the late-19th century. It all began with the suffrage movement – women insisted that they should have the right to vote just like men. Since that time, the fight against gender bias was growing stronger and bigger. Until the final goal was reached and the rights of genders were finally evened out.

Today this movement – or, maybe, a more sophisticated version of it – is still active. Now, people are fighting for equality in a broader sense. 

But, it is quite hard to imagine that there is still any place left for discrimination in modern tolerant society. However, the ugly truth is that gender bias is still our reality. There are plenty of manifestations, even in developed countries.

Despite so much being said and done about discrimination in the broader community, the issue still remains topical. Some of the most recent cases of gender bias were spied in Canadian colleges. Is discrimination a real thing in today’s Canadian colleges? Or is it just a dramatic misunderstanding? Here are a few facts that prove the issue is tangible.

Although women can be great leaders, their leadership qualities have always been undervalued at educational facilities all over Canada. Since the 1990s and all the way up to 2015, the number of female university presidents across the country was stuck at 20%, which is not a lot.

The situation has been gradually changing over the past five years. As of November 2019, this number has increased and made up 26%. This is already a good step forward. 

However, even with another 6% of great female leaders being added to colleges’ ecosystems, this number still can’t be compared with the rate of male leaders. For some, this may serve as a solid fact indicating the presence of discrimination.

We are no longer in the 19th century when women were not allowed to work. Despite this, gender continues to play a complicated role in the process of hiring. Especially when it comes to education and science spheres in Canada. Let’s look at some stats!

As for 2018-2019, among as many as 46,440 of total full-time employed staff (of any rank) in colleges in Canada, 18,840 are women. At first sight, it may seem quite fair as it makes almost half.

However, once you dig deeper, you can clearly see a trace of gender bias in how the roles are distributed amongst all staff.

The clearest evidence of discrimination is the number of actual professors. While there are as many as 16,743 men professors, only 4,830 of women were considered worthy of such a role. Does this really mean that women are less likely to apply to such positions or are generally not as good as men? Not really.  It means that females are less likely to get such jobs than men.

In a world where you are ensured you can be anything you want, it is hard to imagine facing a pay gap based solely on one’s sex. However, that’s still a reality in most universities across Canada. And it is just another fact proving the existence of gender bias.

The official statistics reveal that as for 2017, the average pay gap between female and male workers across different industries reached $18,600 per year. This difference is especially notable among workers in the field of science and education.

Today, almost every Canadian university from Toronto to Saskatchewan pay their female employees at least $9,000-$10,000 less than their male colleagues. 

Add to this the fact that women in universities do not only get paid less; they are also being promoted at a much slower rate. Currently, it seems that some facilities are finally trying to address this issue. 

However, the pay gap is still there, and until it disappears, we can’t refuse to admit that gender bias is real. Although women across the globe keep actively fighting against being subjects to sexual harassment, sadly, there is still a large number of such cases.

Of course, Canadian educational facilities strive to create friendly and safe environments for all. Yet, the reports show that the issue of sexual harassment is still there. This once more proves discrimination in local colleges.

A fairly recent report by the Ontario government is simply terrifying. It claims that as many as 63% of surveyed students reported experiencing sexual harassment in any form on campus.

Unfortunately, discrimination is not only a real thing in stand-alone colleges. It can also be felt at the federal level. We all know that research is an inevitable part of every academics’ lif. Oftentimes, it requires funding to be done well. 

Unfortunately, in terms of research funding, gender discrimination can also be felt.

The findings based on a deep analysis of grant applications submitted to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) state that female health scientists are facing a significant disadvantage in access to federal research funding.

The study shows that whenever grant reviewers have a possibility to consider the background of applicants rather than provide funding solely on scientific merits, women are less likely to win. The gender gap between the success rates of applicants of different sex is quite notable.

It becomes clear that female researchers and academics have to fight for the chance of being funded or promoted in any other way. This fact alone proves that discrimination is still there and that something has to be done to change this.

No matter how much the county’s authorities would ignore the existence of the problem, it is there! These five facts listed above are not the only cases of gender bias and discrimination in Canadian colleges. However, they are clear enough to indicate that the change is needed and ASAP!

It is worth noting that university authorities, as well as government representatives, seem to start recognizing the issue finally.

With the awareness being raised around this matter lately, it has finally made the community’s issues heard. Therefore, we expect significant steps to be taken in the nearest future. Hopefully, the fight against discrimination will finally run to an end!

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