March 15 2017
Academic freedom and the search for truth used to mean something in college settings, but increasingly that’s not the case and the students aren’t the only ones to blame.
A young female student at Canada's Ryerson University learned that lesson from a female professor who told her not to challenge the existence of a wage gap and not to cite business sources or government data because they attribute pay rates to the choices we make.
Jane Matthias, a 21-year-old Ryerson student, emailed her professor about her intention to write a paper on the myth of the male-female wage gap for a sociology class. Her professor or instructor emailed back and said that not only was her premise (challenging the pay gap) wrong, but added that she should write about the glass ceiling instead. Furthermore, the professor instructed her to cite feminist sources because business sources just blame women. Even government sources of data such as Ontario and Canada government websites and Statistics Canada shouldn’t be used because they are “devoid of analysis, and usually reproduces mainstream stereotypes, assumptions and misconceptions,” according to the assignment.
This all came to light when her twin sister Josephine, a political science student at the University of Toronto and vocal activist, made a YouTube video criticizing the assignment and calling out the professor’s response to her sister. Josephine posted the email from the instructor on Twitter. It reads:
First off, your premise is wrong. The wage gap is very real. So the reason why you are having this problem is because you will not find any sources that state this.
The way the wage gap works largely today is through the glass ceiling.
Perhaps you want to write your paper on the glass ceiling. You need to look at feminist sources on this issue. I would suggest beginning with Caroline Gatrell’s book, Embodying Women’s Work. Chapter 7 looks specifically at the glass ceiling.
Do NOT use business sources. They blame women. The reality is patriarchy.
You need to do a lot of research. Look at feminist sources on this issue. Feminists have been writing about the gender division of labour, the feminization of work, and the glass ceiling since the 1970s. There is a ton of feminist research on this topic.
The Toronto Sun reports she noted:
“I mean it’s easy to prove a point when you remove all other sources,” Josephine said Thursday. “If she just gives you the ones that...the professor agrees with, then that’s basically brainwashing. It’s indoctrination.”
Fortunately these young women didn’t keep this to themselves but shared this with the Toronto Sun. These young women are not necessarily conservative, Josephine is a self-described liberal, but they recognize the dangers of political correctness and limiting free speech. They note:
“There are other students in that class who don’t have that privilege and are filled with misinformation,” Jane said. “It’s hurtful towards them in the long run.”
Impressionable students should be encouraged to use credible business sources and statistics, but instead are being sent out into the real world without a realistic point of view, she said.
“They have no facts. They have no tangible explanations or solutions for anything,” Josephine said. “All the sources or all the information they know comes from feminist literature that’s not even correct.”
These young women should be commended, first for standing up for academic freedom and intellectual honesty, and second for tackling the wage gap.
The wage gap all but disappears when you factor in the choices women make, but it is perpetuated, especially during Women’s History Month in March, to spur government action to remedy what they perceive as the result of discrimination. Facts don’t support the gap being the purported 77 cents or 79 cents that is argued. We've explained before about the role of choice. The careers, jobs, majors, dangerousness of jobs, time out of the work force, and other factors affect pay. When these factors are controlled for, any gap disappears to a few cents, if that, overall.
We need more young women speaking out against misinformation. Sadly, many of our young people have been indoctrinated to see this misinformation as truth and opposing views as a bad thing.