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Instructor Tells Student She Must ‘Look at Feminist Sources,’ Shouldn’t Debunk the Wage Gap

Monday, March 13, 2017 9:01
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RyersonA sociology instructor at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, barred a student from writing about the myth of the wage gap between male and female workers.

The instructor told the student, Jane Matthias, that the wage gap is “very real”—even though it isn’t—and she should only consult “feminist sources” on the subject.

“Do NOT use business sources,” the instructor wrote in an email to Matthias. “They blame women. The reality is patriarchy.”

For the class’s final paper, Matthias is required to write about a sociological issue. Her twin sister—Youtube personality Josephine Matthias, an anti-political correctness liberal—suggested she write about the purported wage gap, and why it’s misleading.

But the instructor rejected this topic in an email to Jane.

“Your premise is wrong,” she wrote. “The way the wage gap works is largely through the glass ceiling.”

The glass ceiling—the idea that women and minorities are systematically denied high-level positions at companies—is an entirely different subject, of course. It may even have some validity. But its existence does not prove that the wage gap is really a thing. They are different phenomena.

As for the wage gap, Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown reviewed last year’s most up-to-date data and found:

… when you consider men and women performing substantially similar jobs—i.e., situations in which the sexes are actually doing “equal work”—the wage gap shrinks significantly. A new examination of wage data from 33 countries around the world found that for men and women in the same position, men made just 1.6 percent more on average.

Of course, whether or not the wage gap exists isn’t really the point here. The point is that a university instructor disallowed any dissent on the subject.

Would it have been appropriate for the instructor to ask Jane to grapple with feminist sources that present a contrary argument? Of course. Demonstrating that she understands these arguments—and why they are mistaken—would be an important component of a successful paper.

But the instructor told Jane to ignore any information that might contradict the instructor’s own leftist-feminist position. According to the Toronto Sun, the instructor prohibited students from consulting newspaper articles, encyclopedias, or government-compiled statistics—even though such statistics are incredibly reliable.

“Statistics themselves are devoid of analysis,” the instructor wrote in an email. “Simply stating a statistic does not explain or explore any critical sociological analysis.”

Ideally, though, the point of a university education is to equip students with the tools necessary for them to make sense of data and statistics on their own. This instructor does not seem interested in that project. In fact, she seems interested in just one thing: forcing her students to produce perfunctory papers copied from leftwing sociological sources—sources in conflict with reality.

Students should feel free to study a variety of perspectives in their classes. They should not be forced to write from a single perspective, especially when that perspective is flatly wrong about the phenomena it seeks to describe.

The instructor did not respond to a request for comment.


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