立場新聞 Stand News

一句 emotional 就取消她的訴求?女教授呼籲學界正視性別歧視語言

2018/12/4 — 15:09

11 月 19 日,香港大學畢業生議會舉辦論壇「進退有道:港大員工退休政策多面觀」(圖片來源:HKU Convocation Facebook)

11 月 19 日,香港大學畢業生議會舉辦論壇「進退有道:港大員工退休政策多面觀」(圖片來源:HKU Convocation Facebook)

編按:11 月 19 日,香港大學畢業生議會舉辦論壇「進退有道:港大員工退休政策多面觀」,許多港大教職員均有出席,提出進行退休政策改革訴求,像是將退休年齡從現時的 60 歲延後至 65、增加續任制定過程的透明度等。

何式凝當日亦有出席論壇,而下文為她寫給香港大學首席副校長譚廣亨的公開信,抗議譚廣亨在論壇上作出指女參加者「過於情緒化」等涉及性別歧視的言論,並指出現時港大員工退休政策的問題。

Dec., 3, 2018

An open letter of protest against Professor Paul K.H. Tam, Provost and Deputy Vice- Chancellor, HKU

廣告

I write to protest against Professor Paul Tam’s demeaning and sexist remarks made at the forum “Retire or Excel: What Retirement Policy Works Best for HKU?” organised by the HKU Convocation on 19 November 2018. Professor Tam’s use of the terms “too emotional” and “a bit emotive” in response to women participants’ comments is demeaning and, frankly, puts the University’s status as a HeForShe champion to shame. Most worryingly, it indicates his blatant reluctance to consider the myriad consequences of this harmful and demoralizing policy. Thus, I feel the need to write this letter.

The Hong Kong Government and several local universities have already raised their staff retirement age to 65, but HKU maintains age 60 as "normal 'break-point' of a tenured/substantive employment and the related contractual obligations". Extension of employment beyond the age of 60 is in the form of a new contract that requires the approval of the President and Vice-Chancellor. Many of us have served the university for more than 20 years and have made enormous contributions to the university. The present policy effectively treats us as if we were dead wood that needs to be disposed of once we turn 60. We want the Provost and the University Selection and Promotion Committee (USPC) to understand the actual experiences of working under this deeply-flawed Human Resources system. The forum provided this opportunity.

廣告

Here is what happened at the Convocation discussion:

There were many questions raised from the floor including from 3 women (2 of them are full professors at HKU) who were the first few to speak up since the last speaker of the forum Dr. Sea Ling Cheng (CUHK) presented her views on how the university systems are rather unfair to women professors. In response to the questions raised by members of the Convocation, Professor Tam, the senior university spokesperson behaved as follows.

He acknowledged that even though management believes in “the robustness and fairness of the system”, they are also “mindful of the staff’s feelings”. He asked staff “not to be involved in emotions” when it comes to matters like this, because “we are after all intellectuals of the university …. we must use our brains, minds and our hearts. We must have both.” He said that those who “traverse” against the system are “a bit on the emotive side”, and that if we collectively want the university to do well and so we should not be “emotive”.

Professor Tam added that “There is no such thing as labelling or stigma attached to any decisions, any documents regarding those who do not get an extension”. He said we should not “over-interpret” any decisions, and that colleagues’ distrust of the peer assessors is unfair, because the assessors gain nothing and were simply “discharging their job honorably.”

Since Professor Tam’s comments were very much related to the queries I made regarding the “stigma” and the problems with peer review and the assessors (i.e. USPC members now conduct “peer-reviews” on applicants from disciplines not related to their own areas of expertise), I felt that his criticisms about being too emotional” and “emotive” were directed at me. I was very annoyed, not only because he did not address my questions at the forum; he was also blatantly sexist and disrespectful in how he dismissed my comments and trivialized the views of a female colleague. His use of such tactics - commonly used by patriarchal sexists – is truly disappointing and not suitable for a senior administrator at a HeForShe sponsor institution.

Here is what happened after the meeting:

Professor Paul Tam’s behavior as a spokesperson for the University administration disturbed me greatly, but I was glad to know I was not the only one, when I later received an email from one of the male professors who attended the forum, thanking me for speaking up and saying that “the ungracious comments that followed were not unexpected but ruthless misogyny”.

I later asked the other female professor Professor Gina Marchetti, how she had felt. She said, “I was flabbergasted! After all the information and statistics we have put together, it was unbelievable to have our efforts denied like this.” She felt that the whole retirement policy is biased against women.

I met quite a few US and European professor friends the following day at a conference at HKU. When I told them my experience, they all said that such remarks would be scandalous in their own institutions. No one (male or female) would be devoid of emotion in matters that affect their image, self- esteem and their future. This impacts particularly on women academics who have overcome many hurdles to become full professors and may be tenured and promoted later in life than men, but are then forced to retire at the peak of their academic career just because they are 60. Many world class universities elsewhere value senior academics and encourage them to stay on well past the age of 60.

Professor Tam’s remarks are hardly unusual. Like him, many people misunderstand the role of emotions in our lives as human beings and as intellectuals. It is important to note that emotions cannot be separated from values and moral judgments - the former are a result of the latter. If one feels "emotional" about an issue, it is only because she thinks an important moral value is at stake. Such remarks from a senior administrator demonstrates his refusal to understand the subjective realities and feelings of his colleagues – both are keys to effective conflict resolution and problem solving. To invalidate female colleagues by accusing them of being "emotive" is effectively denying their right to comment on university governance and policies. It also does nothing to resolve differences in opinions. I can only give Professor Tam the benefit of the doubt by reminding myself that our society continues to deprive men of opportunities to express their emotions. Perhaps this explains his defensive reactions and sexist comments.

If there is to be progress, a number of things need to happen, including, for example,

1. The University must encourage all assessors - especially male professors like Professor Tam - to take the “unconscious bias test” in order to improve their gender sensitivity before being given the authority to assess female colleagues’ performance. It is my sincere wish that our university administrators take note of their behaviour in public forums; their behaviour reflects not only on themselves but also on the university.

2. Professor Tam has refused to answer the question from a participant at the forum regarding his own age and re-appointment application. Professor Tam admitted that he was also affected by the policy, but declined to elaborate. As members of a publicly funded institution we have the right to know whether the Provost and Deputy Vice Chancellor - who heads the committee that decides on other people’s fate - is himself subjected to the same “robust and fair” system, with its high standards of scrutiny, as the rest of us.

3. As for my views as expressed in the meeting, I do hope that the university will take them more seriously than Professor Tam has and come up with a University action plan to improve gender equality at HKU.

As a long-serving, research-active and loyal senior staff member, I feel that I could not evade my responsibility to ask for an apology from Professor Tam for the sexist remarks he made at the forum.

Regards,

Ho Sik Ying, Petula
Professor
Department of Social Work & Social Adm.,
The University of Hong Kong

發表意見