Gender and unconscious bias

Have your say

Ceiling-breaking alumni

I want to congratulate you first for the article about UW’s Ceiling Breakers. However, for me what was missing was perhaps a feature on some of the alumni who’ve gone on to wonderful and great things. I think of my classmate (Urban & Regional Planning ’76) Sheryl Kennedy, who is a former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada. I’m sure there are many, many more.

I appreciate that there were several other features that also addressed the issue of gender inequity in the magazine and that you only have so much space.

ALAN J. WHITTLE, BES ’76, Urban and Regional Planning

Guidance for future students

I have just finished reading Waterloo’s Ceiling Breakers — an exceptional issue.

I spent the last 10 years of a very fulfilling career as a secondary school teacher in the guidance department (after completing 23 years as a geography teacher of which 18 were as geography head). To have had such a periodical in our guidance office at the time would have been a huge bonus! Please allow me to say that such a bonus would be of extreme value today also, or even more so. Perhaps a special mailing highlighting the issue and referring to Waterloo Magazine online would be welcomed by secondary school guidance counsellors across the province (country?). I commend you for your initiative “aimed at changing and challenging norms that have for too long excluded more than half of the population.” My copy of Waterloo Magazine will soon be in the hands of my granddaughters, one a new teen and two in their early 20s.

GLENN RITTINGER, BA ’64, Hons. Geography

A window of hope

The Fall 2015 issue, Ceiling Breakers, was packed with inspiring,

successful women, and your editorial describing your own implicit bias was wonderful and thought-provoking. Thank you for the honest and hopeful window into gender equity at Waterloo. I received a BSc in physics in 2014 and am working towards a PhD in physics, so issues of gender in STEM are often on my mind. It’s so great to hear that it’s also on the minds of leaders at UW.


University of Waterloo Fall 2015 Magazine

Concept has broader application

I just read your editorial in the Fall 2015 issue of the Waterloo Magazine. Wow! Your realization can apply to a lot of isms, not just feminism. Doesn’t the same concept apply to racism? How about people with disabilities who find themselves invisible in society? Do the homeless fit in here, too? You have unearthed an important concept that needs to be applied to many areas of society. Through the years, men have been blamed for discrimination against women. Back in the ’50s they (in general) deserved that blame. However, as the decades rolled by, many men found themselves in the same situation you described. They were accused of discriminating against women, but they had no clue what they did wrong. Your editorial now tells them that their error lay in their subconscious, and that it takes conscious effort to rectify.

I think your words will stick with me for a long time.


Unconscious bias remains

Congratulations on your Fall 2015 issue on Ceiling Breakers. I have for many years fought for the many smart and accomplished women in the professional world to be keynote speakers and members of panels, rather than merely MCs and panel moderators.

Am I the only reader noticing the irony of page 27, listing the recipients of St. Paul’s College Distinguished and Young Alumni Awards? Out of 12 recipients, there are only three women, and perhaps even more egregious, just one person of colour. While the editor of Waterloo has no control over who received the award, this list was not appropriate for a magazine issue touting diversity.

IRENE VLACH, BES ’82, Department of Man-Environment Studies (thankfully, the name of this Department has been changed in the meanwhile)


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Editor, Waterloo Magazine
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University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON Canada N2L 3G1

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