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Institutional Inequalities – Graduate Students. Nov 27 th , 2006. Graduate Student Experiences. How long does it take to do a PhD? Research shows that men usually finish their PhDs faster then women. Why?. Time taken to complete PhDs. Discipline Area

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Graduate student experiences
Graduate Student Experiences

  • How long does it take to do a PhD?

  • Research shows that men usually finish their PhDs faster then women.

  • Why?

Time taken to complete phds
Time taken to complete PhDs

  • Discipline Area

    • Programs differ in what is needed to get your PhD, especially between Humanities & Social Sciences and Engineering, Math & Sciences

    • We know the stats – more men in sciences etc (these programs have less hoops to go through)

Time taken to complete phds1
Time taken to complete PhDs

  • Financial Support

    • Is there enough money for graduate students with children?

    • No

    • ‘guaranteed funding’ = ‘guaranteed work’

    • Working 4-5 jobs while a you’re a full time student slows down your research!

Time taken to complete phds2
Time taken to complete PhDs

  • Micro-inequalities

    • Chilly climate: sexual harassment, exclusion from the curriculum, prevalence of sexist language – usually women experience this

    • Would you want to stay in this environment?

    • Would you excel in this environment?

Time taken to complete phds3
Time taken to complete PhDs

  • Supervisors

    • Lack of role models

    • Relationships

    • Gendered communication

    • Same Sex faculty members helpful?

    • Why do you think women might be more successful in graduate depts with more women?

Students kids phds
Students, Kids & PhDs

The difficulties of having children while pursuing a PhD*

-Scenario: A graduate student who is a single parent cancels a tutorial because of a sick child. Her professor confronts her, pointing out that this is the third time she has canceled, and tells her that if things do not improve she may not be assigned a tutorial section next semester

*Examples from Chronicle of Higher Ed

Students kids phds1
Students, Kids & PhDs

  • Example: a mother was asked to leave her graduate program after completing her master's, despite her desire to continue and her outstanding performance up to that time

  • Example: a student who received a chilly response after asking to be excused from a research trip because it coincided with his wife's due date.

  • Example: one woman described how she had repeatedly received unsigned articles in her mailbox with statistics on the future of women with children; "I can only assume where they came from. ... The message was that I was destined to fail."

Students kids phds2
Students, Kids & PhDs

  • Can you think of any examples of how having children might interfere with someone’s graduate education?

  • How might it be different for single parents?

Making changes
Making Changes

  • What can we do to change these inequalities?

Policy initiatives
Policy Initiatives

  • Make clear that anti-family comments are unacceptable

  • Offer short-term, flexible child care to graduate students

  • Offer affordable health-insurance coverage for dependents

Policy initiatives1
Policy Initiatives

  • Give families a higher priority in the housing lottery

  • Offer flexible parental leave

  • Allow part-time work

International students
International Students

What systemic (or institutional) barriers & constraints exist for international students?

How many at u t
How many at U/T

  • There were 1628 international grads at U of T in 2004/05

  • 1569 in 2003/04

  • 1380 in 2002/03

  • 1150 in 2001/02

Barriers obstacles
Barriers & Obstacles


  • Learning a second language

  • Improving on one’s English

  • Learning the informal English language


  • Differences in educational systems:

  • Types of classes

  • Types of interactions btw students & faculty

  • Evaluation measures (tests, essays, labs, research reports etc)

The basics
The Basics

Cultural Differences:

  • Food (availability & labels/brands)

  • Housing

  • Transportation & Driving (wrong side of the road?)

  • Social & leisure activities (what is there to do and where to go?)

Cultural biases or stereotypes
Cultural Biases or Stereotypes

  • What stereotypes are there about students from other countries?

Social networks
Social Networks

  • Who do you know?

    Lack of social networks =

  • Lack of friends

  • Lack of academic support

  • Lack of connections to jobs etc

  • Loneliness & isolation


  • (It’s not) just rule differences, but the unspoken social rules, mores and norms were different when I came to Canada. I had to learn these not unlike how a child does, as there is no handbook on how Canadian relate to one another. This includes how we address each other, body language, and customary ways of doing things.

Institutional inequalities graduate students

Doctoral & Doctoral Stream - St. George Campus:

  • IS Graduate Fees – U/T:

    • 2003-04: $11,752.82

    • 2004-05: $12,350.82

    • 2005-06: $14,252.82

    • 2006-07: $14,252.82

  • Graduate Student Fees – Domestic: 2006-07: $6,628.82

Institutional inequalities graduate students

  • User fees for immigration and employment visas have risen

  • Up until this year, IS were not allowed to work additional jobs off of campus.

  • student work visa = a $150 fee

  • International student who are parents with children attending school in Canada are being asked to pay elementary and secondary school fees for their children

  • IS do not qualify for daycare subsidies that Canadian students are eligible for, so there are additional stressors

  • They are not eligible for most student funding – ie OSAP – there are limited grants, bursaries and so forth available to them.

Class issue
Class Issue?

  • Often people think that IS have lots of money, which is how they can afford to come to Canada for schooling.

  • While some may fall into higher income brackets – many do not, and we often see is a class issue here.

  • Many students from other countries may want to go to Canada or the US for their HE degree – but cannot because they can’t afford to do so.

Race ethnicity class
Race/ethnicity & class

Simon Fraser University in BC:

  • There is an overall decrease in the international student population since 1992, with an especially noticeable decrease in the number of students from countries in the "Third World."

  • For instance, SFU on average has rarely registered more than one student from any one African country at a time

  • Students from Latin America, the Middle East and certain countries in South Asia are also similarly low in numbers.

  • Some exceptions are Hong Kong and Singapore, which have maintained a relatively high number of students.