Canada’s international students are becoming less diverse. Here’s why Ottawa says that’s a problem

Of note (so much for the 2019 strategy!):

More and more foreign students are coming from the same countries, concentrating in particular school programs and provinces, and that could spell trouble for Canada’s international education sector, says a new study.

Based on immigration and post-secondary student information data between 2000 and 2019, Statistics Canada examined the countries from which international students come, and how those students’ level of study and province of study have evolved over the years.

Over nearly two decades, the number of first-time study permit holders almost quadrupled to 250,020, with the most notable jump coming post-2015 with the annual growth rates ranging between 12.5 per cent and 27 per cent.

The share of the international student population from the top 10 countries has grown from 67.9 to 74.9 per cent, with those from India skyrocketing to a whopping 34.4 per cent of the pie from just 2.7 per cent 20 years ago.

Increasingly, international students are drawn to shorter, cheaper college programs with business, management and public administration becoming the dominant fields of study.

While international enrolment increased in all provinces, Ontario consistently attracted the largest share of foreign students, with its percentage up steeply to 48.9 per cent in the 2015-19 cohort from just 37.4 per cent in the 2000-04 cohort.

“Despite its growth, the international student population has become less diverse in many ways over the past two decades,” said the study released this week.

And those trends go against Ottawa’s International Education Strategy, unveiled in 2019, which cited the “need for diversification” in the flow of international students to Canada as well as their fields as well as levels and location of study.

“Attracting students from a wider diversity of countries, as well as to a greater variety of regions and schools, would foster sustainable growth of Canada’s international education sector and distribute the benefits more equitably across the country,” said the strategic plan.

“The new strategy contributes to these goals by increasing the diversity of inbound student populations, skill sets and programs, and by fostering people-to-people ties and international networks.”

Like diversifying investments to reduce risk, attracting students from different countries can also minimize the impact on international enrolment if there is a particular regional economic downturn — the kind that might make students from a certain area halt their studies.

According to the study, the growth of international education in the past five years has much to do with new regulations in 2014 that set up a designated learning institution regime to stamp out “nongenuine and poor quality” schools as well as automatically allowing the students to work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week.

Over the years, Ottawa has also made a strong push to favour those with Canadian education credentials and work experience as potential permanent residents, turning international students into a pipeline for permanent immigration.

At the program level, the Statistics Canada study said, the shares of international students in elementary through secondary schools have declined, but it was made up for by increases in the shares intending to study at the college and master’s degree levels.

In 2019, the share of first-time study permit holders at the elementary school level was five per cent, a drop from the 10 per cent in 2000. The corresponding share also declined at the secondary level from 18 per cent in 2000 to 11 per cent in 2019.

In contrast, those in college programs grew from 27 per cent to 41 per cent as their peers studying at the master’s degree level doubled from five per cent to 10 per cent. The share of international students at the doctoral degree level was steady, at two per cent.

Among the 2015-19 cohort, there were 324,000 international students in college programs, compared to 246,000 in universities over the same period.

Over the past five years, India (34.4 per cent) has replaced China (16.5 per cent) as the top source country for international students, followed by South Korea (4.7 per cent), France (4.5 per cent), Brazil (3.3 per cent), Vietnam (2.7 per cent), Japan (2.6 per cent), the United States (2.6 per cent), Mexico (2.1 per cent) and Nigeria (1.9 per cent).

Of those in college programs, Indian students made up 66.8 per cent of the international student population. Those from India also accounted for 21.3 per cent of that population in universities.

Ontario was the main beneficiary in the competition for international students, with its share up from 37.4 per cent in 2000 to 48.9 per cent in 2019, while B.C. saw the biggest drop from 31.1 per cent to 22.7 per cent over the two decades. Alberta’s and Quebec’s shares both dropped slightly as well.

At both the college and university levels, the most common field of study for international students was business, management and public administration, although growth in the field being more prominent at colleges, up from 37 per cent to 41 per cent in the last decade, at the expense of international enrolment in architecture, engineering and related technologies, and of visual and performing arts, and communications technologies.

The share of international students in math, computer and information sciences was up notably in colleges while universities saw a bigger gain in international students studying physical and life sciences and technologies.

“Looking forward, trends in the sociodemographic characteristics of international students have the potential to influence the sustainable growth of Canada’s international education,” the Statistics Canada study concluded.

“Increased concentration of international students by source country, level of education, province of study and field of study may have a downstream impact on the potential pool of candidates for permanent immigration and the Canadian labour force.”

Source: Canada’s international students are becoming less diverse. Here’s why Ottawa says that’s a problem

Biden Is Reviving An Effort To Change How The Census Asks About Race And Ethnicity

Of note (as Canada continues its review):

President Biden’s White House is reviving a previously stalled review of proposed policy changes that could allow the Census Bureau to ask about people’s race and ethnicity in a radical new way in time for the 2030 head count, NPR has learned.

First proposed in 2016, the recommendations lost steam during former President Donald Trump’s administration despite years of research by the bureau that suggested a new question format would improve the accuracy of 2020 census data about Latinos and people with roots in the Middle East or North Africa.

The proposals also appear to have received the backing of other federal government experts on data about race and ethnicity, based on a redacted document that NPR obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The document lists headings for redacted descriptions of the group’s “recommended improvements,” including “Improve data quality: Allow flexibility in question format for self-reported race and ethnicity.”

Stalling by Trump officials, however, sealed the fate of last year’s census forms. With no public decision by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, the bureau was forced to stick with previously used racial and ethnic categories and a question format that, the agency’s studies show, a growing number of people find confusing and not reflective of how they identify.

That has raised concerns about the reliability of the next set of 2020 census results, which are expected out by Aug. 16 and face a tangle of other complications stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration’s interference with the count’s schedule and the bureau’s new privacy protection plans. That detailed demographic data is used to redraw voting districts, enforce civil rights protections and guide policymaking and research.

The review continues under Biden’s OMB

The proposals, however, may be approved by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget under the Biden administration, which has been calling to change how the government produces and uses data about people of color and other marginalized groups.

“We are continuing to review the prior technical recommendations and public comment, and the extent to which those recommendations help advance this Administration’s goal of gathering the data necessary to inform our ambitious equity agenda,” Abdullah Hasan, an OMB spokesperson, tells NPR.

Hasan did not provide a timeline for the current review of the proposed changes to the government’s standards for data about race and ethnicity, which are set by OMB and must be followed by all federal agencies, including the bureau. OMB had previously planned to announce a decision in 2017, before the bureau had to finalize the 2020 census forms.

Other recommended changes include no longer officially allowing federal surveys to use the term “Negro” to describe the “Black” category. Another proposal would remove the term “Far East” from the standards as a description of a geographic region of origin for people of Asian descent.

Support from Biden’s pick for Census Bureau director

This month, Biden’s nominee for Census Bureau director, Robert Santos, pledged to lawmakers that, if confirmed, he would support one of the major recommendations, which would allow census forms to combine the separate race and Hispanic origin questions into one. A combined question, tests by the bureau’s researchers show, would help the bureau address the problem of increasingly more people leaving the race question unanswered or checking off the box for “Some Other Race”— the third-largest racial group reported in 2000 and 2010.

“The census director doesn’t have the authority to include any specific questions,” Santos said in response to a question from Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “But I can use my own personal perspective as a Latino and use my research experience and my leadership position to work with OMB to make sure that the proper attention is given to that specific issue.”

An expert in designing surveys and currently the Urban Institute’s chief methodologist, Santos has written about the need for questions and categories on census forms to “evolve and adapt to ensure everyone is fairly represented,” including the Latinx population, one of the country’s fastest-growing groups.

“Racial and ethnic categories are social constructs, defined and designed by those who have historically held positions of influence,” Santos said in a 2019 blog post co-written with Jorge González-Hermoso, an Urban Institute research analyst. “The policy implications of using inadequate methods to collect data on identity are not trivial.”

During the hearing, Santos suggested that if OMB ultimately approves the proposed policy changes, the bureau may not have to wait until the 2030 census to use a combined race-ethnicity question, which Santos said could potentially be incorporated into the bureau’s ongoing American Community Survey.

Candidate diversity is high on the agenda as Canada’s political parties prepare for a federal election

Of note, pending a more complete analysis:

During what’s widely expected to be an election year, Canadians have been confronted with the realities of discrimination, racism and reconciliation as never before.

That’s something major federal parties are thinking about as they craft their slates of candidates, who, if elected, will need to represent the interests of a diverse electorate.

The Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats and Greens have all made efforts to connect with under-represented communities, mostly through updated recruiting requirements and fundraising initiatives.

But they’re less forthcoming about the specific targets they’re hoping to hit, such as what proportion of racialized or LGBTQ+ candidates would indicate a successful and representative nomination process.

Women, for example, make up just over half of Canada’s population, but it took until 2020 for just 100 of its 338 MPs to come from that group. Millennials are one of the largest populations in Canada, yet most federally elected officials are much older. And visible minorities, Indigenous people, the LGBTQ+ community and disabled Canadians are all under-represented in the House of Commons.

“Parties are largely vote seeking, organizational machines,” said Erin Tolley, Canada Research Chair in Gender, Race and Inclusive Politics at Carleton University.

“So if a party is looking out into the public landscape and sees that issues related to equity or to diversity or to representativeness are something that the public is hungering for … parties will respond to that in a way that is consistent with their ideological vision.”

Here’s how four major federal parties are looking at tackling the balance this time around. (The Bloc Québécois did not reply to requests for comment.)

The Liberals

As of Tuesday, the Liberals had nominated 191 candidates, with more announcements expected throughout the week. Women make up 43 per cent of that total, with racialized Canadians accounting for more than 20 per cent of those nominated. Seven candidates are Indigenous.

Navdeep Bains, who is chairing the Liberals’ national campaign along with Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly, has been tasked with seeking out candidates for the governing party.

One of the changes the party has made is to widen requirements within its nomination process. Previously, local riding associations needed to prove they had sought out female candidates. Now, associations must show how they’ve attempted to bring anyone from an equity-seeking group into the fold.

“You’ve got to document, and really have to engage and have a thorough search for potential candidates,” Bains said. “We’re talking about women, Black and Indigenous (candidates), people of colour, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities.”

The party is also dipping into two pre-existing funds to assist with that work. One is the Judy LaMarsh Fund, which supports female candidates running for the federal Liberals. The other is the Indigenous Electoral Endowment Fund, which is intended to help recruit and support Indigenous candidates.

The Conservatives

The Conservatives had nominated 240 candidates as of Monday. The party did not provide a breakdown of the groups to which those candidates belong because it’s still compiling that information, but party spokesperson Cory Hann identified several as Muslim.

Hann said party supporters and staff have been asked to “work their networks and encourage people from all backgrounds to get involved” as either candidates or campaigners.

“The candidates we’ve nominated so far all have varying backgrounds both professionally and personally, ensuring that, as (Conservative Leader Erin) O’Toole has said, Canadians from all over the country see themselves in our Conservative party.”

Where representation is concerned, the party appears to be focusing most on building bridges with racialized and Indigenous communities, although the party is tight-lipped on the specifics of those plans.

Conservative MP Garnett Genuis has been leading engagement efforts with “cultural and religious minority communities,” telling the Star he is “excited about the potential that we have for growth in that area in the upcoming campaign.”

Genius would not expand on which communities he was specifically courting, or how those efforts look in practice, citing the Tories’ “inside strategy.”

The NDP

In 2019, the New Democrats led the charge when it came to candidate diversity, hovering near the gender parity benchmark and reaching or surpassing representative levels for Indigenous, racialized and LGBTQ+ groups.

For the next election, the party is trying to ensure more than 50 per cent of its candidates are women — the only specific target cited by any federal party for any equity-seeking group.

The party has nominated 97 candidates so far, half of whom are women. Racialized Canadians make up 33 per cent of that total, while six per cent are Indigenous and 18 per cent are LGBTQ+. People living with a disability account for 12 per cent of nominated candidates, and 11 per cent have been identified as “youth.”

As with the Liberals, riding associations must demonstrate how they’ve sought to recruit diverse candidates. The party is also now requiring that any outgoing incumbent is replaced with someone from an equity-seeking group. Departing MP Jack Harris, for example, will be succeeded by one such candidate.

“This is a huge priority for us. It’s part of our DNA,” NDP national director Anne McGrath told the Star.

McGrath said that because the party has more resources heading into the next election than it did in 2019, more emphasis is being placed on recruitment.

The Green party

There may be no party for which running a diverse roster of candidates is more important than the federal Greens.

While Annamie Paul is the first Black and Jewish woman to lead a major federal party, she is currently embattled within a party structure that insiders charge is perpetuating racism and sexism.

What’s more, a confidential report prepared for the Greens and obtained by the Star found the party fell short of recruiting and supporting diverse candidates in the last general election. In 2019, the party ran fewer visible minority candidates than the far-right People’s Party, according to a report by The Canadian Press.

That’s something Paul is committed to changing, despite opposition she says she’s faced from some party officials.

“There’s a tremendous amount of power in making the invitation. Just making an open invitation to say we see you, we value you, we want you,” Paul told the Star.

As of Monday, 148 applicants had been approved through the drive and other recruitment streams, though only 39 have been formally nominated. Of the approved applicants, 41 per cent are women, followed by racialized Canadians at 19 per cent and youth under 30 at 15 per cent. Six per cent of approved applicants are Indigenous, while 17 per cent belong to the LGBTQ+ community and 12 per cent are persons with disabilities.

Source: Candidate diversity is high on the agenda as Canada’s political parties prepare for a federal election

University research could point the way to more inclusive journalism

Will be interesting to see the results of this analysis, particularly the evidence in contrast to perceptions:

How well does journalism reflect the diversity of the community? And what are the perceptions of that coverage?

The Diversity Institute at Ryerson University expects to provide some answers with research examining media coverage and its impact in shaping biases and perceptions.

The examination was inspired in part by the institute’s extensive work examining discriminatory workplace practices that, for example, limit gender and racial representation on corporate boards and in executive leadership positions.

From this, there was a recognition of the media’s influence on perceptions and stereotypes, which have a “profound” effect on people’s assumptions about others, said Wendy Cukier, the institute’s director and a professor of entrepreneurship and strategy at the university’s Ted Rogers School of Management.

“Every single aspect of diversity and inclusion in the workplace or in the education system pointed to broad cultural stereotypes and biases that get embedded in organizations and shape the way individuals think and behave,” she said.

“The media is one of the most important carriers of values and culture. And it has a profound impact on these stereotypes and assumptions and biases, or it can help challenge them,” Cukier said.

The project, tentatively titled “Media Bias and Under-represented Groups,” will analyze the online news of selected outlets and their representations of those who are Indigenous, Jewish, Muslim, Black and racialized. Focus groups with identified groups will glean perceptions of media coverage and its impact on their identities.

The research will identify areas of misrepresentation, under coverage or coverage that reinforces negative stereotypes. The objective is to make journalism more representative and inclusive.

Working on the project are Mohamed Elmi, the institute’s director of research, and Ruby Latif, research associate, Media Bias Project lead. Both have experience examining how media shape stereotypes.

Elmi was involved with the Black Experience Project, an extensive study published in 2017 that examined what it was like to be Black in the Greater Toronto Area. In a survey done for the project, respondents cited inaccurate media portrayals of the Black community that exaggerated involvement in criminal activity, or depicted them as uneducated or lacking ambition. Few saw what they considered to be accurate portrayals of Blacks as leaders or individual success stories.

“When you’re looking at the media, they only saw people who look like them portrayed in a negative light, not necessarily as an expert or some commentator on a particular subject,” Elmi said.

Latif’s own research focused on Muslim women and organizations. That work and research since has noted how the Muslim community was being “othered,” she said.

“It’s putting somebody in another light, that they’re not part of the in-group … showing that they’re not the same or they don’t have similar values, like Canadian values,” said Latif, who is a regular contributor to the Star’s opinion section.

The deaths of a London, Ont. family — run down last month during an evening walk because they were Muslim, according to police — has underscored those concerns.

The role of mass media in amplifying racial divides is well-documented. The Ontario Human Rights Commission notes, for example, that racism “is communicated and reproduced through agencies of socialization and cultural transmission such as the mass media (in which racialized persons are portrayed as different from the norm or as problems).”

Cukier says progress has been made, notably in the wake of last year’s murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. “But I’m not sure if mainstream reporting and editing and the kind of power structure has shifted that much,” she said.

Floyd’s death prompted a reckoning among institutions on race, racism and diversity. For media outlets like the Toronto Star, it means examining how well the paper reflects the diversity of the community it serves, in both the journalists who work in the newsroom and in its coverage.

Breaking stereotypes and ensuring stories are representative requires effort in all parts of the editorial process, from decisions on which stories to cover, the language used in those stories, the people chosen for interviews and the selection of pictures. Each is a subjective decision — and a chance to make coverage more inclusive.

Researchers emphasize that media portrayals too often perpetuate stereotypes. Another issue is journalists only seeking out racialized individuals to talk about issues of diversity and race, rather than their fields of expertise, be it finance, law or science. “They’re not featured as experts in whatever their field is … I would argue that just reinforces a certain kind of marginalization,” Cukier said.

The Trust Project, a global group of media outlets that includes the Star, rightly sets out diverse voices as one marker of trusted news: “Are some communities or perspectives included only in stereotypical ways, or even completely missing?” And the Torstar Journalistic Standards Guide states, “Inclusiveness is at the heart of thinking and acting as journalists.”

The Star has worked to ensure that the diversity of the community is reflected in its stories. Journalists are encouraged to bring new voices to their story-telling. It makes for better-informed journalism and improved civic discourse. No doubt that remains a work in progress.

This research project promises to be an important road map to how the Star and other media outlets can do better.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/public_editor/2021/07/02/university-research-could-point-the-way-to-more-inclusive-journalism.html

Ethnic makeup of Buckingham Palace workforce not ‘what we would like,’ says senior source

Smaller gap than I would have guessed but perhaps London would be a better benchmark than the UK as a whole (40 percent ethnic minorities):

Buckingham Palace has for the first time released figures on the ethnic makeup of its staff, following the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s allegations of racism in the Royal Family.

The Royal Household said Thursday that 8.5 per cent of its staff come from ethnic minorities, compared with a target of 10 per cent by next year. The latest census data shows that ethnic minorities account for about 13 per cent of the U.K. population. The staffing figures were released as part of an annual report on royal finances.

A senior palace source said publishing the figures was an effort to ensure greater accountability because there would be “no place to hide” if diversity goals aren’t met. The source acknowledged that much more needed to be done.

Source: Ethnic makeup of Buckingham Palace workforce not ‘what we would like,’ says senior source

Plaidoyers pour plus de juges issus de la diversité

Of note (diversity has increased significantly under the current government):

Plusieurs postes de juges étant à pourvoir, le gouvernement Trudeau devra faire plus de place à la diversité dans la magistrature, plaident deux associations d’avocats en immigration au Canada. Le manque de diversité est particulièrement criant à la Cour fédérale, où à peine le tiers des 43 juges, y compris le juge en chef et la juge en chef adjointe, sont des femmes et où les minorités visibles se comptent sur les doigts d’une seule main.

« C’est étonnant. D’autant plus que 85 % des dossiers de la Cour fédérale sont en lien avec l’immigration », dit Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, président sortant de l’Association québécoise des avocats et avocates en droit de l’immigration (AQAADI).

Pour lui, il est indéniable que ces dossiers d’immigration « sont imprégnés du bagage culturel, personnel et historique des personnes qui se présentent devant la justice » et que les tribunaux doivent être plus « représentatifs de la société canadienne moderne ». « C’est pourquoi l’AQAADI croit aussi que la myriade de postes vacants de juges des cours fédérales devraient être pourvus par des personnes appartenant à ces groupes minoritaires », lit-on dans la lettre qu’elle a envoyée au ministère canadien de la Justice.

Cet avis est partagé par l’Association canadienne des avocats et avocates en droit des réfugiés, qui a également enjoint par écrit au ministre de la Justice, David Lametti, de faire une plus grande place à la diversité au sein de la magistrature. À l’automne dernier, des dizaines d’associations juridiques et de groupes de défense des droits des minorités ont aussi envoyé une lettre au procureur général du Canada appelant à ce que les postes judiciaires actuellement vacants à la Cour fédérale soient pourvus par des juges de couleur.

Depuis 2016, et par souci de transparence, le Commissariat à la magistrature fédérale est tenu de publier des données sur les nominations et les candidatures ventilées en fonction du genre, de la diversité et des compétences linguistiques. Entre les dernières élections d’octobre 2019, où le gouvernement Trudeau a été reconduit, et octobre 2020, 60 nouveaux juges ont été nommés, dont 65 % (39) étaient des femmes et 43 % (26) étaient autochtones, issus de minorités visibles, de groupes ethniques ou culturels ou de la communauté LGBTQ. Le quart (15) des juges disaient maîtriser les deux langues.

Même s’il est toujours possible de faire mieux, Andrew Griffith, ex-directeur de ce qui est aujourd’hui Immigration, Réfugiés et Citoyenneté Canada, qui s’est intéressé à la question dans des articles pour l’Institut de recherche en politiques publiques, souligne cette amélioration. Il appelle à constater tout le chemin parcouru depuis 2016, où les femmes et les minorités visibles étaient encore bien moins présentes.

Toutefois, ce chercheur à l’Institut canadien des affaires mondiales reconnaît qu’il y a peu de diversité à la Cour fédérale, une situation qu’il n’arrive pas à expliquer. En 2016, à peine 30 % des juges de la Cour fédérale étaient des femmes, mais depuis que le gouvernement Trudeau est au pouvoir, la majorité (52,6 %) des juges qui ont été nommées sont des femmes, selon sa propre compilation mise à jour en avril 2021.

Ce progrès est moins notable pour les minorités visibles et les Autochtones. Le pourcentage de minorité visible était d’à peine 2 % en 2016 et, depuis, environ 8 % des juges nommés appartenaient à cette catégorie. Paul Favel est le seul juge autochtone, sur 43 au total, à la Cour fédérale, et le deuxième dans l’histoire de cette cour.

« Entre diversité et francophonie »

Guillaume Cliche-Rivard soutient que cette ouverture à la diversité ne devrait toutefois pas se faire au détriment de la langue française. « La petite tension qu’on a, c’est qu’on est pris entre diversité et francophonie. On veut favoriser l’accès à des minorités, mais pas au détriment du français, c’est une position difficile. Et on sait qu’un faible pourcentage des juges fédéraux maîtrisent suffisamment le français pour tenir des audiences », dit-il.

Me Cliche-Rivard souligne qu’il y a environ deux ans, il a plaidé devant la Cour suprême et qu’il l’a fait en français. Or, il n’a pas eu le sentiment que les juges anglophones pouvaient tout saisir de son argumentaire. « Je n’ai pas eu l’impression que j’avais été bien compris des juges anglophones. » La ministre responsable des langues officielles, Mélanie Joly, a promis de proposer une réforme de la loi sur les langues officielles d’ici la fin 2021 et s’est engagée à obliger le bilinguisme pour les juges de la Cour suprême.

Pour son dernier tour de piste, le président de l’AQAADI, qui tire sa révérence après un mandat de trois ans, n’a pas seulement voulu interpeller le gouvernement Trudeau sur la nécessité de diversifier la magistrature : il souhaite aussi lui rappeler ses devoirs en matière de protection des réfugiés.

Peu après le dépôt du budget de 2019, Justin Trudeau avait soulevé un tollé en donnant l’aval à une nouvelle stratégie frontalière visant à empêcher les demandeurs de chercher l’asile au Canada s’ils ont déjà présenté au moins une demande semblable dans certains pays, dont les États-Unis. « Même les conservateurs n’étaient pas allés jusque-là », souligne Me Cliche-Rivard, encore en colère à propos de cette mesure.

Soulignant certaines avancées, l’avocat rappelle néanmoins que c’est sous l’actuel gouvernement libéral que les délais pour obtenir une résidence permanente sont de plus de 27 mois, qu’un demandeur d’asile peut être entendu en audience plusieurs années après son arrivée au Canada et que des réfugiés peuvent attendre plus de trois ans avant d’être enfin réunis avec leurs enfants restés dans le pays d’origine. « Et que dire du nombre de dossiers de travailleurs qualifiés du Québec. Il y a encore beaucoup de gros problèmes », conclut Me Cliche-Rivard.

Source: https://www.ledevoir.com/societe/610629/justice-plaidoyers-pour-plus-de-juges-issus-de-la-diversite

Opposition leaders want juror demographic data to help fight systemic biases

Needed:

A lack of information on the race, gender and age of jurors hinders the fight to address systemic racism and other inequities in the criminal justice system, federal opposition leaders and others say.

While studies in the United States show juror race and age have a marked effect on trial verdicts, Canada collects no data allowing similar research here, The Canadian Press reported recently.

New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh, who practised law in Ontario, expressed surprise at the data gap. Having evidence of jury makeup would help lawmakers make more informed decisions about improving the selection process, he said.

Singh said he would like to see laws and practices put in place to ensure juries represent the community, adding he would work with provinces and territories to see demographic information collected.

“The goal should be first identify: Are our juries reflecting the population, and if not what we can do to improve the demographics,” Singh said in an interview. “Better juries, better laws that all have the goal of justice and fairness in mind.”

Similarly, Green party Leader Annamie Paul said a clear picture without jury data on race, gender and occupation among other things is impossible.

“Lack of collecting this data is going to be one of the key barriers to truly dismantling systemic racism within our criminal justice system,” Paul said. “You can’t create legislation, really effective legislation, without this information.”

Sen. Kim Pate, a longtime advocate for justice reform, said collecting disaggregated data — information that does not identify individual jurors — would help understand jury selection and its impact.

“Concerns regarding the lack of this type of data are a recurring theme with nearly every criminal law bill considered by the Senate,” Pate said.

Conservative and Bloc Quebecois leaders Erin O’Toole and Yves-Francois Blanchet did not respond to requests for interviews.

The Prime Minister’s Office referred questions to Minister of Justice David Lametti, who said via a spokesman the government was on board with collecting information that would help address the overrepresentation of Indigenous people and racialized people who end up behind bars, which could include scrutinizing jury makeup.

As one example, David Taylor pointed to the federal-provincial-territorial National Justice Statistics Initiative, which sets goals and objectives related to justice data. Relevant deputy ministers have endorsed the collection and analysis of Indigenous and race-based data as a priority for the initiative, he said.

In addition, the recent budget earmarked $6.7 million over five years for Justice Canada to improve the collection and use of demographic data, while Statistics Canada would receive $172 million over five years for its “disaggregated data action plan.”

“Effective policy requires good data,” Taylor said. “This investment will support the use of advanced analytics so that we can better tailor interventions and improve social outcomes for different groups of people.”

Canada’s chief statistician, Anil Arora, said Canadians have long been reluctant to collect demographic information but people have come to understand the impact it can have in crafting solutions.

The government now wants to collect demographic information in a systematic way, including addressing gaps related to the justice system, Arora said. Statistics Canada can access data through the justice initiative, he said.

“What we need to do now is to align the disaggregated data at the source of collection, or at least be able to link it to other data sources, to get at what is the profile, whether it’s somebody serving on the jury (or) part of the judicial system itself,” Arora said.

“The country needs this type of information, so that it can see what’s going on sooner and it can react sooner, and it can take decisions.”

Source: Opposition leaders want juror demographic data to help fight systemic biases

Des problèmes de diversité à Radio-Canada

Of note:

Les employés de Radio-Canada issus des minorités visibles se sentent mis de côté et craignent d’exprimer leurs idées. Une étude commandée à une firme externe révèle de graves lacunes en matière de diversité au sein du diffuseur public, alors que ses cadres ne voient pas de problèmes.

L’étude tentait de déterminer quel est « l’ADN des Radio-Canadiens », en se basant notamment sur un sondage mené par la firme RH Sept24, en novembre, auprès de 1383 employés francophones. Elle a plutôt démontré que le racisme systémique existe à Radio-Canada, de l’aveu même du grand patron des services français, Michel Bissonnette.

« Je pense qu’il y a un racisme systémique au pays, je pense qu’il y a un racisme systémique dans la majorité des grandes institutions. […] Est-ce qu’il y a des gens dans l’organisation qui ont plus de difficulté à avoir des promotions, donc plus de difficulté à être embauchés ? Y a-t-il des commentaires et des préjugés [qui sont] inconscients ? La réponse, c’est oui », a-t-il expliqué en entrevue au Devoir.

Selon un sommaire partagé aux employés le mois dernier et dont Le Devoir a obtenu copie, « il semble y avoir beaucoup d’éléments ne respectant pas l’équité dans l’organisation ». Certains employés se sentent stigmatisés ou perçus comme étant toujours biaisés s’ils partagent leur opinion, et craignent même des conséquences lorsqu’ils s’expriment. Ce constat est qualifié de « particulièrement inquiétant ». Contrairement à leurs subalternes, les gestionnaires, eux, « sentent une bonne ouverture aux nouvelles idées ».

De plus, les employés appartenant aux « groupes d’équité », ce qui inclut les minorités visibles, mais aussi les personnes handicapées, celles issues des communautés LGBTQ+ et les Autochtones, sont significativement moins portés à recommander Radio-Canada comme employeur. Ces employés auraient typiquement été victimes ou témoins de « micro-agressions » à propos de leur différence et se sont vu refuser des possibilités d’avancement sans justification. Très peu d’entre eux ont accédé à des postes supérieurs. Un employé sur cinq aurait été victime de comportements non équitables, toutefois principalement en raison de l’âgisme ou du sexisme.

Culture d’entreprise

Trois employés actuels et un ancien employé de R.-C. issus de la diversité qui ont accepté de se confier au Devoir, sans que leur identité soit révélée, ont dressé le portrait d’une culture d’entreprise plutôt rigide, mal adaptée aux différences, mais où tout n’est pas négatif.

Une employée a confirmé avoir été la cible de commentaires laissant entendre que sa couleur de peau rendait partial son jugement pour certains sujets, comme ceux sur la communauté noire de sa province d’emploi. « Dans une réunion, on m’a dit que j’avais un parti pris. Comme si j’étais biaisée ! » Elle aurait aussi été la cible de commentaires désagréables de collègues selon lesquels des promotions lui seraient garanties par la politique de discrimination positive de l’entreprise. Elle note cependant que le problème de diversité est présent dans tous les médias québécois, et pas seulement à Radio-Canada.

« Des fois, quand tu es une minorité culturelle, tu n’as pas le goût d’aller en région éloignée et être le seul Noir », indique un ancien employé, en référence à la pratique de faire débuter les jeunes journalistes loin des grands centres. « Durant mes années en poste, je n’ai jamais eu un patron noir », conclut-il, ajoutant avoir eu globalement une expérience très positive à l’emploi de Radio-Canada.

Un employé actuel de la société d’État qui est en situation de handicap pense pour sa part qu’« il faut souvent tomber sur le bon patron pour avoir une bonne expérience de travail ». Il affirme que ses demandes d’adaptation de son espace de travail durant la pandémie de COVID-19 se sont heurtées tantôt à des refus, tantôt à beaucoup de compréhension, en fonction du gestionnaire. « On m’a déjà dit : on ne va pas changer nos façons de travailler parce que tu es arrivé.

C’est justement cette culture d’entreprise que promet de changer le vice-président principal des services français, Michel Bissonnette, selon qui le rapport a créé un « choc » à la haute direction. Très surpris d’y apprendre ces conclusions, M. Bissonnette attribue une part du retard de Radio-Canada en matière de diversité dans la différence, en général, de représentation des minorités entre le Québec et le Canada anglais. « Toronto est une ville qui est beaucoup plus multiculturelle que Montréal peut l’être. CBC à Toronto a déjà des groupes d’équités qui sont déjà structurés. […] On avait l’impression que nous, tout allait bien. »

Au moment de l’entretien avec Le Devoir, M. Bissonnette estimait que les conclusions de l’étude ADN des Radio-Canadiens ne s’appliquaient qu’au Québec. Vérification faite, l’étude inclut les services français de toutes les stations du pays, y compris celle de Toronto. Depuis sa publication, Radio-Canada a procédé à la création d’un groupe de travail et d’un nouveau poste de cadre responsable de la diversité et de l’inclusion, en plus d’avoir retenu les services d’une firme spécialisée pour l’aider à s’améliorer.

Le mal-être

Or, la haute direction aurait été mise au courant de ces problèmes d’inclusion depuis plusieurs années, affirme le Syndicat des travailleuses et travailleurs de Radio-Canada, qui regroupe les employés de la société d’État du Québec et de l’Acadie. « Historiquement, il n’y a jamais eu d’efforts de Radio-Canada et du service français pour être réceptif et ouvert. J’ai plus d’histoires d’horreur que d’histoires heureuses de la part de collègues issus de groupes minoritaires », indique son président, Pierre Tousignant. Il impute le mal-être vécu par les groupes de la diversité à un contexte plus large d’un problème de gestion « infantilisante » du diffuseur public, dans lequel « chacun vit son problème ».

Seule note positive pour la société d’État, le rapport « l’ADN des Radio-Canadiens » rapporte que ses employés sont malgré tout fiers et loyaux à l’entreprise, et considèrent que Radio-Canada a un rôle important à jouer dans la société.

Source: Des problèmes de diversité à Radio-Canada

After a Year of Turmoil, Elite Universities Welcome More Diverse Freshman Classes

Of interest:

Jianna Curbelo attends a career-focused public high school in New York City, works at McDonald’s and lives in the Bronx with her unemployed mother, who did not graduate from college.

So when her high-school counselor and her Ph.D.-educated aunt urged her to apply to Cornell, on her path to becoming a veterinarian, she had her doubts. But she also had her hopes.

“It was one of those, ‘I’ll give it a shot, boost my ego a little bit,’” she said, laughing infectiously, of her decision to apply.

Then she got the unexpected news: She was accepted. She figured she was helped by the fact that Cornell, like hundreds of other universities, had suspended its standardized test score requirement for admission during the coronavirus pandemic. She also said she believed that protests kindled by the death of George Floyd had caught the attention of admissions officers, inspiring some to draft essay questions aimed at eliciting students’ thoughts on racial justice and the value of diversity.

“Those protests really did inspire me,” she said. “It made it seem like the times were sort of changing, in a way.”

Whether college admissions have changed for the long haul remains unclear. But early data suggests that many elite universities have admitted a higher proportion of traditionally underrepresented students this year — Black, Hispanic and those who were from lower-income communities or were the first generation in their families to go to college, or some combination — than ever before.

The gains seem to reflect a moment of national racial and social awareness not seen since the late 1960s that motivated universities to put a premium on diversity and that prodded students to expand their horizons on possible college experiences.

“I would say the likelihood is that the movement that arose in the wake of George Floyd’s murder has exerted some influence on these institutions’ admissions officers,” said Jerome Karabel, a sociologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and a historian of college admission.

“But I think an equally important factor may be the effect of the pandemic on the applicant pool — they had a much broader range of low-income and minority applicants to choose from.”

Consider Jaylen Cocklin, 18, of Columbia, S.C., the son of a retired police officer and a state worker. Jaylen, whose two older brothers attend historically Black institutions, decided in middle school that he wanted to go to Harvard, but the events of the past year were a part of his thinking as he weighed his opportunities.

“It was just another thing driving me to go to Harvard and prove everyone wrong, and defy the common stereotype placed upon so many African-American males today,” he said.

He also suspected that Harvard might be thinking it had some duty to young men like him “because of the social outcry.” And, now he says, it appears that he was right.

He finds himself deciding among Harvard, Emory, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Wake Forest, Davidson and Georgetown.

The growth in minority admissions at top schools, both private universities and state flagships, has been driven in part by an overall explosion in applications there. Although the total number of students applying to college this year increased only slightly (though slightly more for Black, Hispanic and Asian students than white ones), the number of applications to top schools increased drastically across the board — by 43 percent to Harvard and 66 percent to M.I.T., for example.

At the University of California, Los Angeles, freshman applications rose by 28 percent, and even more for racial minorities — by 48 percent for African-Americans, by 33 percent for Hispanic students and by 16 percent for American Indian students.

The easing of the reliance on standardized tests, which critics say often work to the advantage of more educated and affluent families who can afford tutors and test prep, was most likely the most important factor in encouraging minority applicants.

Only 46 percent of applications this year came from students who reported a test score, down from 77 percent last year, according to Common App, the not-for-profit organization that offers the application used by more than 900 schools. First-generation, lower-income, as well as Black, Hispanic and Native American students were much less likely than others to submit their test scores on college applications.

Schools had been dropping the testing requirement for years, but during the pandemic a wave of 650 schools joined in. In most cases, a student with good scores could still submit them and have them considered; a student who had good grades and recommendations but fell short on test scores could leave them out. 

Most schools have announced that they will continue the test-optional experiment next year, as the normal rhythm of the school year is still roiled by the pandemic. It is unclear whether the shift foretells a permanent change in how students are selected.

Gabriella Codrington, 17, a Black student at Bard, a selective public high school in New York City, submitted her SAT score only to her “safety” schools, like the University of Delaware and Temple University, where she thought it would help her application. She withheld it from more selective schools like Harvard, Michigan, Stanford and N.Y.U., emphasizing her grades and resilience in the face of cancer, now in remission. “It definitely gave me a bit more relief,” she said of the test-optional policy.

Neither her father, a doorman, nor her mother, a sales associate, went to college. She has been admitted to N.Y.U.

Jaylen Cocklin’s family (his father went to a historically Black college and his mother to a Christian one) encouraged him to aim high. 

He “just grinded” for the SAT, he said, using a free online program, books and lessons on YouTube, and drove 45 miles because of the pandemic to take the first of two SAT tests. His score was high enough that he felt it would help him stand out at top schools, so he submitted it.

In his application essay, he wrote about the “struggle to be who I was” at A.C. Flora High School, in suburban Columbia, S.C. “I’ve been quite stereotyped by being African-American, the common stereotypes — thuggish, hoodish, looking down on what African-Americans can do,” he said.

But he also had to deal with being stereotyped as “whitewashed.” He wrote about his efforts to find a balance.

As students like Jaylen and Gabriella told their stories, admissions officers listened.

“You could tell the story of America through the eyes of all these young people, and how they dealt with the times, Black Lives Matter, the wave of unemployment and the uncertainties of the political moment, wanting to make a difference,” said MJ Knoll-Finn, senior vice president for enrollment management at New York University.

At N.Y.U., this year’s admitted class is about 29 percent Black or Hispanic students, up from 27 percent last year, and 20 percent first-generation students, up from 15 percent.

At Harvard, the proportion of admitted students who are Black jumped to 18 percent from 14.8 percent last year. If all of them enrolled, there would be about 63 more Black students in this year’s freshman class than if they were admitted at last year’s rate. Asian-Americans saw the second biggest increase, to 27.2 percent from 24.5 percent, which could be meaningful if a lawsuit accusing Harvard of systematically discriminating against Asian-Americans is taken up by the Supreme Court.

The percentage of Black students offered a spot at the University of Southern California rose to 8.5 percent from 6 percent, and Latino students to 18 percent from 15 percent.

Stu Schmill, dean of admissions at M.I.T., said the school did not release the breakdown of the admitted class because it was not the final enrolling class. “But I can tell you that there is a higher percentage of students of color this year than last,” he said.

A number of schools did not report admissions figures by race, instead reporting nonwhite “students of color” (including Asians) as a group, which generally showed an increase.

Once students actually accept an offer of admission and enroll, the diversity tally may look different, reflecting the difference between students admitted and where those students choose to enroll.

Some admissions experts worry that making standardized tests, like the SAT, optional will make it more difficult to select top students, especially at a time of widespread grade inflation. But when tests were required, “students were taking themselves out of the running,” said Cassie Magesis, director of post-secondary access for the Urban Assembly, a network of small schools that includes the one that Jianna Curbelo attends.

Admissions directors said that in the absence of test scores, they drilled deeper into not only high school grades, but also the rigor of courses taken in high school as well as personal essays and recommendations from teachers and guidance counselors.

Some hired a small army of application readers, like N.Y.U., which added 50 new readers, more than doubling its regular reading staff.

Even some admissions directors who think that standardized tests have been misused have mixed feelings about eliminating them altogether

“In some ways, I would say good riddance to the SAT,” said Joy St. John, dean of admission and financial aid at Wellesley College. “It feels like we just can’t stop gaslighting disadvantaged students.”

Still, she said testing could identify students who rose above their environment, or who excelled in certain subjects, like math and science. “There are aspects I will miss if we don’t have it,” she said. As imperfect as the process is, the admissions directors said they welcomed students taking a chance on challenging schools.

Ms. Knoll-Finn of N.Y.U. said. “Why not reach for the stars and see what you can get?”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/17/us/minority-acceptance-ivy-league-cornell.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

Ryerson University releases report card on student diversity. Which faculties pass, which receive a failing grade and how the school plans to improve

Kudos to Ryerson for collecting and presenting this data with an impressive response rate.

Reading this article, made me question whether and when Ryerson may have to broaden its diversity efforts not only in cases where women, visible minorities and Indigenous peoples are under-represented but also in programs where non-visible minorities are under-represented (e.g., arts, communications, community service, management):

Ryerson University graded its programs on student diversity and most faculties are skating by with Cs.

At a glance, some of the most under-represented groups in the school’s total population were Indigenous students, students with disabilities and racialized graduate students. 

And a further report-card-style breakdown of individual programs and faculties shows just how these equity groups are spread out across the university. 

Ryerson University graded its programs on student diversity and most faculties are skating by with Cs.

At a glance, some of the most under-represented groups in the school’s total population were Indigenous students, students with disabilities and racialized graduate students. 

And a further report-card-style breakdown of individual programs and faculties shows just how these equity groups are spread out across the university. SKIP

The school’s first ever breakdown of student identities, “The Student Diversity Self-ID Report” compares student representation from 2019 with the makeup of the GTA and Ontario across five equity groups: women, racialized people, Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities and LGBTQ people.

Ryerson is one of few Canadian universities that has collected and published this sort of information. Students and advocates have called for disaggregated data to better address equity gaps on campus for years. 

For undergraduate programs, the faculties’ average diversity scores were between 54 and just over 72 per cent. Graduate programs scored between 40 to 75 per cent.

The faculty averages give an overview, but the breakdown by programs reveals a detailed look at the exact programs where certain groups are severely under-represented.

For instance, Black students are 7 per cent of the undergraduate population in total, which is close to the GTA population. But some programs like accounting and finance, interior design, nutrition and most engineering programs scored Ds for Black student representation. 

And while women are 55 per cent of the overall student population, they are under-represented in business, computer science and engineering programs. 

“It provides a snapshot from 2019, to let us know where we are and where we need to go,” said Denise O’Neil Green, Ryerson’s vice-president of equity and community inclusion.

Green said the school’s long-term goal is “to see greater alignment with the community representation by 2030.”

How the report works

Students were able to share via an online questionnaire whether they identify with any of Ryerson’s five equity groups: women, racialized students, Indigenous students, students with disabilities and LGBTQ students.

The survey had a 96 per cent response rate with more than 40,000 students participating. 

Each program was then awarded a report-card-like letter grade for each equity group category with the racialized category further broken down to Black, Chinese and South Asian. 

Programs were awarded an A+ if the proportion of the students met or was greater than its population in the GTA or Ontario — although that grade won’t stop the university from continuing efforts to improve. The grades A to D+ show how much improvement is needed for the equity groups to be representative of the rest of the population. 

Based on the data, each program and faculty received an average percentage rating of its overall diversity across equity groups.

“The report is there to help inform our community and to help drive decision making and to help develop strategies, so that we can make education more inclusive for everyone,” Green told the Star.

There are more details in the report taking a detailed look at the Black student experience, the role financial barriers play in accessing education and how to measure the experiences and graduation rate of these students. 

It also outlines plans to create working groups to assess what supports, like scholarships and mentoring programs can be put in place to create more pathways for students. 

The need for disaggregated data

Disaggregated data collection has been long desired by students and equity advocates, but schools have been slow to move. 

In 2019, Universities Canada surveyed schools across the country about their equity, diversity and inclusion practices.When it came to student data collection, schools were more likely to collect data on age, gender and Indigeneity, but less likely to collect statistics on sexuality, ability or race more widely. 

In 2017, the CBC conducted an investigation where it asked Canadian universities if they collected data on how their students identify racially — 63 out of 73 did not, Ryerson included. 

Universities have been more likely to keep data on faculty and staff, in order to meet legislative requirements, like the Ontario Human Rights Code and Federal Contractors Program. 

But without a clear picture of what the student body looks like, it is less likely that schools will make structural changes to make post-secondary schools more accessible and inclusive once these students arrive.

Carl James, a York University professor and senior equity adviser, said he finds it ironic that most universities, which are research institutions, had not been using this sort of student data to inform their programs and policies.

Data collection, he said, is a useful advocacy tool, keeps institutions accountable and allows them to keep track of change from year to year. But the most important part he said is how it is used and interpreted. 

“Keep taking data for data sake,” without using it to bring about the necessary change “that’s not a good use of data,” he said. “How are you going to use it in the interest of the people?” 

James also points out that students had been advocating for disaggregated data collection for years.

In 2015, Black students at the University of Toronto and Ryerson University formed Black Liberation Collectives in solidarity with U.S. students at University of Missouri. One of many demands they made of administration was to collect race-based data on students, which U of T agreed to begin in 2016.

Elsewhere in the GTA, University of Toronto created a survey in November 2020 to collect data for a student diversity census.York University listed intentions to do so in a June 2020statement addressing anti-Black racism. These initiatives came after George Floyd’s death sparked a widespread reckoning on anti-Black racism. 

For schools collecting this data, James’ question is: “Now that you know, what are you going to do about it?”

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2021/04/07/ryerson-university-releases-report-card-on-student-diversity-which-faculties-pass-which-receive-a-failing-grade-and-how-the-school-plans-to-improve.html