Fulfilling the promise
Diversity and inclusion in the academy
Many commentators over the years have observed how Canadians tend towards a certain smugness. I’ll admit that I am one of those who do occasionally suffer from Canadian Superiority Complex; we tell ourselves that we are a much more tolerant and open society compared to other nations. And while it is true that racial and religious tensions here are much less fraught than in the U.S. – the country with which we most frequently compare ourselves, for obvious reasons of history and geography – I’ve learned that we need to show a bit of humility.
As our in-depth cover story by Vancouver writer Jackie Wong recounts, many racialized scholars in the academy say they experience ongoing discrimination, from “everyday indignities” to systemic inequities, in their workplaces. Visible minority professors, they say, are both under-represented among the professoriate and earn lower wages. They also point out that, despite the fact most universities introduced policies promoting equity and diversity decades ago, these institutions still have a long way to go to fulfill their promises of inclusion and fairness.
Quoting from the recently published book, The Equity Myth, the article lists numerous recommendations to enhance equity on campuses. As it so happens, Canada’s universities did just commit to a set of principles dealing with equity and diversity at their fall meeting in Ottawa, just as University Affairs was going to press. Racialized and white scholars alike will no doubt follow closely the progress of universities in achieving these goals.
Elsewhere in this issue we have a fun story on academic podcasting by our senior writer Natalie Samson. When the story was first pitched to me, I imagined these podcasts were mere entertainments and a diversion for these scholars from their regular academic work. Little did I know that these podcasts offer serious scholarship that should be more formally recognized by the academy. As one of the academics noted, “We know people learn in different ways and this is just another item on the educational smorgasbord.”