“All About Work” Is Taking a Holiday Break

For the next few weeks, All About Work will be taking its annual end-of-year holiday break.

The blog has been a very busy place this year, thanks to all the readers and supporters that visited it and participated over the past 12 months. These were the five most popular posts of 2012: (more…)

TIPPING POINTS? MALCOLM GLADWELL COULD USE A FEW

Originally posted on Our Bad Media:

In the summer of 2012, just days before a certain columnist was found to have plagiarized from The New Yorker, a staff writer at the prominent magazine itself resigned in the wake of a widespread plagiarism scandal. The journalist, famous for pop-science works that generated scathing reviews, had been using unattributed quotations taken from other people’s interviews. He had copied-and-pasted from his peers. Generally, he had faked his credentials as an original researcher and thinker.

The New Yorker itself had a doozy on its hands. The scandal had tarred the magazine’s famed fact-checking department, despite claims that its procedure was “geared toward print, not the Web.” Editor-in-chief David Remnick was embarrassed. He’d initially kept the writer on board, distinguishing one bout of self-plagiarism from the more serious offense of “appropriating other people’s work.” Now, his magazine was losing a star that had been groomed as “Malcolm Gladwell 2.0.”

That…

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When Sexism Maybe Isn’t Sexism

Earlier this year, the University of Alberta announced that former Canadian prime minister Kim Campbell had been appointed “founding principal”  of the Peter Lougheed Leadership College. In an article about her leadership style, for the University’s alumni magazine, Campbell wrote,

When women led in [an] interactive style, it was not recognized as leadership and they did not get credit for it. Men, meanwhile, were being trained to be interactive leaders and were rewarded for their ability to manage in this new way….it was clear that I had an interactive style of leadership. It had been the key to my success in passing contentious legislation as Canada’s minister of justice and attorney general from 1990 to 1993….This approach enabled me to pass a record amount of legislation when I was in the justice portfolio, but I was sometimes perplexed at the lengths journalists would go to to avoid giving me credit for these efforts….Journalists did not recognize my leadership as such because I was not making the noises they associated with leading.

Campbell didn’t provide any specific examples of where or how journalists had allegedly downplayed her achievements because of her gender.

More recently, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark alleged (more…)

I’m not taking career advice from old white dudes anymore.

Fiona McQuarrie (@all_about_work):

A powerful, passionate and very well-argued post about the changing realities of academic work, and the inability of some academics to understand that things do not work as they once did. Thank you, Acclimatrix!

Originally posted on Tenure, She Wrote:

Recently, a senior emeritus professor called me out because he hadn’t seen me at a talk in a different department (let’s say it’s Astronomy). “I’ve never seen you at a single Astronomy talk,” he admonished. “You really need to go to those.” I patiently explained that I typically have a teaching conflict, which he brushed off, and repeated his imperative that I really needed “to go to those talks.” He was angry at my laziness in failing to attend these critical seminars in a tangentially related field, and didn’t respect my explanations that 1) I couldn’t, and 2) even if I could, I have to make hard choices and don’t always have the luxury of doing everything I’d like to.

Now, I’m an interdisciplinary scientist– in fact, my position is split between a departmental home and an interdisciplinary institute, which means I go to twice as many faculty meetings and probably four times as many…

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“I’m Not An Expert”

A number of American media commentators have recently taken aim at the fallacy of the “I’m not a scientist” argument. “I’m not a scientist” is an increasingly popular statement from American politicians who don’t believe in climate change. Whenever these politicians are presented with evidence that suggests climate change is real, they say “I’m not a scientist”, and think that excuses them from commenting on the evidence that contradicts their position. But, as several commentators have pointed out, it’s not acceptable for politicians who make legislative decisions on climate change to not be informed about it – and they don’t have to be scientists to do that. Politicians don’t have to be experts on everything, and they shouldn’t be expected to, but they do have the responsibility to know something about the issues they vote on.

North of the border, we in Canada now seem to have our own version of the “I’m not a scientist” argument. It’s the “I’m not an expert” reasoning. The “I’m not an expert” reasoning tends to arise whenever a member of the Conservative federal government uses questionable information, and then claims that the information must be accurate because it came from “experts”.

A few weeks ago, Finance Minister Joe Oliver used this reasoning while testifying at Canada’s House of Commons Finance Committee. At the Finance Committee meeting, he was asked about (more…)

Bigger than We Ever Dreamed: Some Covers of “Royals”

I first heard Lorde‘s song “Royals” the same way I hear a lot of music for the first time – at the skating rink, on a CD made by one of the younger skaters. I remember being struck by the unusual lead vocal, and by how the song was so stark and sparse – with only drumbeats and snapping fingers as instrumentation – but also so rich, with the chiming backing vocals.  However, as with many CDs at the rink, that particular CD had no label, so I couldn’t find out who did the song. I tried to describe it to one of my friends, and she said, “Oh! That’s Lorde! Her record is phenomenal, you really have to get it.” So I bought Pure Heroine, and my friend was right – it is phenomenal. And “Royals” has since won Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards, and has charted all over the world.

One of the signs of a great song is (more…)

Protecting the Workplace “Star”

Last week, in light of the ongoing revelations in the story of former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi, the Financial Post ran a column entitled “Don’t be the CBC: How employers should handle allegations of violence and workplace harassment”. The column contained some good basic recommendations for employers on dealing with incidents of harassment or abuse against their employees: e.g. knowing the law, training front-line managers, involving unions, and using outside experts to conduct investigations and assessments. However, one of the column’s recommendations – “avoid protecting the ‘star’” – really deserves a column of its own. Because that recommendation touches on a key issue that’s often overlooked in identifying and preventing workplace harassment –  counteracting workplace cultures that implicitly support harassment and abuse.

The CBC, unfortunately, seems to be providing a very good example of how these sorts of workplace cultures can flourish. Although much of the discussion of the Ghomeshi story is around Ghomeshi’s non-work behaviour, one of the women who spoke out after his firing is a CBC employee. She alleges (more…)

Union Grievance Procedures and the Jian Ghomeshi Story

Just over three weeks ago, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) fired Jian Ghomeshi, the host of its radio show Q. The CBC stated that the reason for the firing was “information” that “preclud[ed]” it from continuing to employ him. Since then, a number of women have come forward with allegation that Ghomeshi physically attacked them while they were dating him. Three of these allegations are being investigated by the Toronto police. Ghomeshi is suing the CBC for $55 million for allegedly dismissing him on the basis of a “moral judgement” about his sex life. He also announced on Facebook that he would also be filing a grievance for reinstatement.

A big part of the discussion of this story is about Ghomeshi’s workplace behaviour – since one of the first allegations of abusive behaviour was from another CBC employee – and whether the CBC adequately fulfilled its responsibility as an employer to provide a safe, harassment-free work environment. However, there is a major difference between Ghomeshi’s employment situation and the employment situations of many other high-profile media personalities in Canada and elsewhere. Ghomeshi is a union member – and that means that his situation will likely be managed differently than if he wasn’t part of a union.

Some commentators on the Ghomeshi story – particularly those from outside Canada – apparently don’t understand how grievances work in unionized workplaces in Canada, how a grievance might relate to Ghomeshi’s lawsuit, or the responsibility of his union in representing him. I think it’s important to be clear on those issues, (more…)

Investigative Journalism: The Media Can (and Should) Do More of It

Recently I wrote a post about new information on the anti-union financial disclosure bill being debated in Canada’s Parliament. This new information was collected by two University of Regina researchers, and was mostly collected from publicly available documents. I also recently watched this segment of the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver TV show – a segment that brilliantly dismantles the Miss America Pageant’s claim to be “the world’s largest provider of scholarships to women in the world” [sic]. The information for this segment was also collected from publicly available documents.

Now admittedly the Miss America Pageant’s misrepresenting its scholarship awards doesn’t have the same potential large-scale societal impact as federal legislation, but the reporting of both sets of information has something in common. They’re both good investigative journalism – and neither was done by journalists. (One commentator calls Oliver’s work “investigative comedy”.) So why are comedians and university professors doing the kind of investigative work that media organizations should be doing, but generally aren’t?

From my own experience, I can suggest a couple of reasons why investigative journalism is not (more…)

The IKEA Lockout Is Over

The nearly 18-month-long lockout of unionized workers at IKEA’s store in Richmond, British Columbia, has ended.

Mediator Vince Ready joined the negotiations between IKEA and the Teamsters Union just after helping the BC Teachers’ Federation and the BC government resolve their bitter dispute. According to several media reports, (more…)