Professor David Mullan’s letter (“Issue is Quality, Not Feminist Agenda,” Bulletin, January 2006), errs in assuming Loretta Czernis’ concern about the underrepresentation of women is a concern for “feminist quotas.” One might have reservations about a national program that perpetuates the long-standing systemic inequity in Canada’s universities without grounding that concern in a feminist agenda. Of course one might well be a feminist or be sympathetic to a feminist analysis of the demographics of Canada’s professoriate.
Neither of those positions inevitably leads to the conclusions that Mullan draws, that the concern for equity leads to a desire to implement a quota system in hiring and that rectifying inequity is at odds with the search for quality: “How does Czernis’s concern for feminist quotas consist with the desire to protect (quality)?”
Perhaps Mullan believes increasing the number of women and visible minorities on faculties will compromise the quality of education and research. Or, perhaps he believes one cannot be concerned about inequity and quality at the same time without demanding that one trump the other. Surely what we ought to seek is a university system in which both equity and quality are nurtured and celebrated. As I read the president’s comments that is precisely what she advocates.