July 22, 2002

Marcela Bollers

Letter to Editor, University of Toronto Bulletin

Women have to be better to be equal

After reading John Furedy’s letter criticizing employment equity, I had varying emotions of anger, disappointment and sadness  (Employment equity report flawed, May 6). I even debated whether or not I should even bother to respond but then I became encouraged after reading Paul Muter’s and James Robert Brown’s responses (Letters, May 21 and June 10).

I find it interesting that so many people, particularly white men, refer to employment equity as reverse discrimination and I often wonder if they ever speak out against “true” discrimination.

As an educated woman of colour, I was often told by family, friends and mentors that I would have to work harder than whites in school to get good grades and also in the workforce to get similar recognition and pay. My experienced forewarners were right! This reality was further cemented one evening while watching Studio 2 on TVO when a female panellist made a comment which struck me. She was referring to Alexa McDonough and her recent announcement of stepping down as the leader of the New Democratic Party. When answering one of Paula Todd’s questions the panellist said, “...women have to be better to be considered equal....” I thought, imagine how much “better” a woman of colour must be to be considered equal. Simply put, if it were not for employment equity, people with my genitals and skin colour would never be given equal and fair consideration.

At any rate, some good did come out of John Furedy’s disappointing letter, notably the responses in favour of diversity. I am satisfied knowing that the university does employ progressive-thinking people who understand the importance of equity and see it as enhancing our environment rather than hindering it.

Marcella Bollers, Department of Psychology, University of Toronto

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