DIVERSITY DEBATES AT UNIVERSITY OF
(The Bulletin, University of Toronto)
for Aerospace Studies
July 26, 2004
In his letter
to The Bulletin (Case Resorts to Sophistries),
Professor Vassos Hadzilacos challenges Professor John Furedy’s May 31
of Simcoe Hall’s diversity policies (Academic Merit Undervalued). But Hadzilacos’ letter does not contribute to
debate on these policies: it misrepresents Furedy’s points and accuses
using forms of argument tantamount to intellectual dishonesty. Furthermore his concern is misdirected. In the Feb. 9 issue of The
Bulletin Furedy and I argue that it is the current academic
plan that inappropriately emphasizes biology as a proxy for
diversity (The Proportionality Game, Forum).
also reinforces a view that Furedy and I share: apart from mantra-like
repetitions linking diversity and excellence, from the Governing
individual faculty members, there appears to have been no serious
of policies in the current academic plan promoting diversity. In an institution aspiring to the stature of
the best public U.S.
universities, such policies ought to be controversial.
seeking an explanation of the low representation of women in the
mathematical sciences, Furedy cites the work of the internationally
Canadian psychologist Doreen Kimura – a woman, it is to be noted. She and others have established that there
are subtle but distinct differences in certain aspects of female and
intellectual abilities and interests and that these are traceable in
biological influences. Although these
for the average
and woman, at
extremes of the distributions, the populations can differ greatly.
to choose university faculty from the superior extreme, so that an
policy promoting proportionality must inevitably compromise
might be valid reasons for promoting a social good by compromising in
but such a policy needs to be subject to informed, rational scrutiny.
On a personal
note, I taught in
the elite engineering
for 38 years and during that time class composition changed from almost exclusively white male to include
many women and a broad representation of the ethnic groups now making Canada their
home. Some talented women and men from
these groups have already become successful faculty: many more will
follow. Thus I fail to see why Simcoe
Hall is preoccupied with a pseudo-problem at a time when the university
real problems arising from chronic underfunding.
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