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category: Social Science
published: June 2017
publisher: UBC Press

The Equity Myth

Racialization and Indigeneity at Canadian Universities

by Enakshi Dua; Frances Henry; Peter Li; Howard Ramos; Carl E. James; Malinda S. Smith & Audrey Kobayashi

tagged: discrimination & race relations, higher

The university is often regarded as a bastion of liberal democracy where equity and diversity are vigorously promoted. In reality, the university still excludes many people and is a site of racialization that is subtle, complex, and sophisticated. This book, the first comprehensive, data-based study of racialized and Indigenous faculty members’ experiences in Canadian universities, challenges the myth of equity in higher education. Drawing on a rich body of survey data, interviews, and analysis of universities’ stated policies, leading scholars scrutinize what universities have done and question the effectiveness of their employment equity programs. They also make important recommendations as to how universities can address racialization and fulfill the promise of equity in the academy.

About the Authors

Enakshi Dua

Frances Henry

Peter Li

Howard Ramos

Carl E. James

Malinda S. Smith

Audrey Kobayashi

Contributor Notes

Frances Henry, FRSC, is a professor emerita of anthropology at York University.


Enakshi Dua is the director of the Graduate Program in Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies at York University.


Carl E. James, FRSC, teaches in the Faculty of Education and in the Graduate Program in Sociology at York University.


Audrey Kobayashi, FRSC, is a professor of geography at Queen’s University, Kingston.


Peter Li, FRSC, is a professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Saskatchewan.


Howard Ramos is the associate dean of research in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and a professor of sociology at Dalhousie University.


Malinda S. Smith is a professor of political science at the University of Alberta.

Editorial Reviews

The Equity Myth brings to the surface tensions that racialized faculty widely experience but seldom formally discuss in their workplaces. These include pay inequity, unequal hiring processes, a lack of visibility for racialized faculty in the professoriate, Euro-centric curricula and racial discrimination.

Until now, those tensions have been felt only in the abstract or anecdotally. Statistics Canada does not collect data on racialized minorities as part of the data it compiles on faculty and students at Canadian universities; nor do provincial governments collect such information. There has been recent change on this front from the University of Toronto and Ryerson University, both of which have announced in the past year that they would start collecting race-based data about their students. But no data exists on the effectiveness of university employment equity policies or policies against discrimination, despite their ubiquity across Canadian campuses.

— University Affairs

[G]roundbreaking new research led by York University Professor Emeritus Frances Henry puts Canadian universities under the microscope. This new inquiry … shows that racialized and Indigenous faculty are low in numbers and even lower in terms of power, prestige and influence compared to non-racialized [white, male] counterparts within the university

— York University
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