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CAUT Bulletin Archives

November 1999

Reader challenges 'women only' job advertisement

Jim Turk, executive director of CAUT, assured me on more than one occasion that CAUT would follow its published policies with respect to publishing the discriminatory job ad from the psychology department at Wilfrid Laurier University in the CAUT Bulletin. By publishing this ad, CAUT has violated its own policies which state:

"CAUT expects that all positions advertised in the Bulletin are open to both men and women. Advertisements using restrictive language will not be accepted except when the language is consistent with human rights legislation. When any bona fide reasons for exemption from general policy stated above exist, it is the responsibility of the institution which intends to place a restrictive advertisement to provide the Editor of the Bulletin with a statement as to these reasons."

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has not approved either WLU's special program or the wording of its advertisement for a faculty position. It has certainly not mandated that WLU publish the job ad. As you may know, a complaint against WLU has been lodged with the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

WLU's reason for reserving their position for a "woman only" is because they would like to have more women on their faculty. As you must surely know, that is not a sufficient reason for discrimination.

WLU must prove to the satisfaction of the Ontario Human Rights Commission that their special program to advantage women is justified by section 14 of the Human Rights Code, which requires, in this case, that female applicants, with PhDs, are disadvantaged, suffer economic hardship, or have been denied equal opportunity. No one has presented evidence that there has been discrimination against women in faculty hiring in the psychology department. Indeed, according to Laurier News "Dr. Linda Parker, a Psychology professor and Assistant Dean, Graduate Studies and Research, says the situation in Psychology 'is not the result of discrimination'." Further it requires a complete denial of over two decades of data collected by Statistics Canada to continue to believe that female applicants for faculty positions are discriminated against in job hiring.

By your action in publishing WLU's discriminatory job ad you have rejected an opportunity to show moral leadership and strike a blow against job discrimination. By your refusal to provide your reasons for your decision, you have shown contempt for many of us who disagree with you.

Clive Seligman
Psychology, University of Western Ontario

The Wilfrid Laurier University psychology advertisement published in the October edition of the Bulletin is consistent with the Ontario human rights legislation and the publisher's statement. -- ed.