Canadian university tenure position only open for ‘women, transgender, non-binary' people: Is this right?


Fact Box

  • On March 21, 2022, the University of Waterloo in Canada posted a tenure position for the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council with the caveat inviting “individuals who self-identify as women, transgender, non-binary, or two-spirit.” 
  • The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median tenure for men was 4.3 years and 3.9 years for women in January 2020. Twenty-nine percent of men had 10 years of tenure with their current employer which was slightly higher than that of women at 27%. In comparison, Statista found that the average job tenure for Canadians ranged from 79.6 month (sales) and 152.8 months (management). 
  • According to Statistics Canada, the country is home to an estimated one million people identifying as LGBTQ, with 30% under 25 years old and 0.24% identifying as transgender. 
  • A February 2022 Gallup reported LGBTQ identification in the US has ticked up to 7.1% from 5.6% in 2021, with nearly 21% of Gen Z identifying as LGBTQ. Bisexuality was the most common (57%) sexual identity claimed, while 10% identified as transgender.

Andrew (Yes)

Representation is important, and like many other fields, academia has long had disparities in hiring between men and women, transgender, or gender-nonconforming individuals; Canada's Waterloo University is right to take a positive step toward rectifying this situation. Representation matters for more than just the example role models set for young people but also for the lived experience and perspective these individuals bring to the table. Including more women and more gender-fluid individuals allows a team to work more creatively and bring a greater sense of equity to their work. As universities worldwide are realizing the need to decolonize reading lists and address implicit biases found throughout the higher education system, the need for diversity amongst faculty has become abundantly clear.

While discrimination based on gender identity is generally banned in hiring practices at public universities in Canada, the Ontario Human Rights Code does specifically allow for institutions to actively seek candidates from specific underrepresented backgrounds. The Canadian government has recognized certain underrepresented groups in academia, and Waterloo University is using its legal option to address this disparity. Hiring broader representation in the academic sphere is exactly the type of situation that demands a legal carve-out such as this.

Finally, the decision to hire an individual with a specific gender background may seem to some like an effort to promote or appease a special interest group. Still, the reality is that all of society benefits from having a strong sense of diversity in important positions such as these. To best tackle the challenges of modern society, the most wide-ranging perspectives are imperative.

Morgan (No) 

Offering a tenured university position only to those who 'self identity' as women, transgender, non-binary, or two-spirit significantly makes a mockery of the feminist movement as well as calls for open discrimination against men (unless they happen to claim they are women). The University of Waterloo is essentially saying these types of people deserve special treatment and consideration simply for their self-prescribed sex, erasing the fact that women have fought for decades to eliminate discrimination based on those same criteria. 

In addition to the double standard this criterion creates, it sets a bad example for students and excludes a whole group of potentially better qualified, deserving, and possibly even superior candidates from even being able to apply for the position. And shouldn't the first priority in hiring a professor be the professor's credentials as an educator?

With the university embracing blanket discrimination here, they reinstate what feminists and those in favor of gender equality have fought against for decades; it will now be easier for managers to discriminate against perfectly eligible candidates based on their immutable characteristics (if they're a male and admit to it), while elevating those who ascribe to the illogical inconsistencies behind the psuedoscience of gender ideology, who say they are both genders or neither. 

If the script was flipped and this university opened a job position that required all applicants to be men and 'cis-gender' people, everyone would have a massive problem with it—rightfully so. The university, despite being a 'public institution that prohibits discrimination based on gender,' claims the criteria they've listed to be considered for this job is meant to help those who are already being 'discriminated against.' But in doing so, they are still committing discrimination—unacceptable in any form.

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