The Chilly Climate for Women Faculty
Across North America a growing body of “chilly climate” research documents the role played by environmental factors in reproducing gender inequality: practices that stereotype, exclude and devalue women are persistently powerful forces in creating “glass ceilings” and maintaining “pink ghettos. ” Women academics in North American universities and colleges offer an especially striking case for such research. Precisely because of their elite status, the accounts now emerging of the “chilly climate” faced by academic women throw into sharp relief the mechanisms that foster gender inequity throughout North American society.
Collected in this volume are a number of reports and commentaries on “climate issues” as they affect women faculty in Canadian universities. They include Sheila McIntyre’s Memo, an account of gender harassment in the context of a law school that was first circulated in 1986; two reports by and about women faculty at the University of Western Ontario that were inspired by McIntyre’s Memo; accounts of the reactions of male colleagues, the administration and the media to “climate” studies; and several chapters that critically reframe the discussion of chilly climate practices in terms of questions of race and sexual identity.
Taken together, these reports and discussions demonstrate the importance of addressing the environmental roots of women’s continuing inequity both within and outside contemporary academia. They communicate specific experiences which testify to the existence of a chilly climate in our universities, and call into question any supposition that women and men have achieved equity to the degree that they could be said to work in “the same” environment in these institutions.
``A courageous but disturbing book that will do much to end complacency in universities and society at large. The issues are much bigger than the specific institutions described in the essays; they involve the overt and covert ways in which the voices of women are silenced in all sorts of situations. This is not new; what is new is that a women's collective has spoken in the first person singular about how things look from the battlefield. A must read for any who wish fresh insights into how society works and for all who care about universities—administrators, members of boards, students, or faculty. ''- Peter Richardson, former Principal, University College, University of Toronto, andProfessor in the Centre for the Study of Religion, University ofToronto
``The important thing about it is that it is published, in the public domain, in a way which can reach individuals who do not receive all the newsletters and documents of academic groups. It brings the experiences of women faculty to a wider audience and, one hopes, provides information so that systemic problems in academia can be linked to those in other spheres in order to organize and mobilize for change. ''- Atlantis
``Breaking Anonymity: The Chilly Climate for Women Faculty not only clearly describes the chilly climate for women faculty but also what happens when women on campus document the climate and try to warm it up. Although several of the articles are specific to particular institutions, the experiences described are instructive because they are the same ones that are prevalent everywhere, in both Canadian and United States institutions. For anyone who wants to understand the often unacknowledged side of campus life coupled with the true courage of those who strive to change it, this book is a must.''- Bernice R. Sandler, Atlantis
``The impact of climate on women's issues has never before been presented with such breadth and depth of insight. Highly recommended reading.''- Peter Richardson, Midwest Book Review