Department of Gender Studies

Department of Gender Studies
Department of Gender Studies

Statement on Professionalism

Department of Gender Studies
Statement on Professionalism and Appropriate Behaviour

The Department of Gender Studies is circulating the following Statement to all members of the Department, and in particular all those involved in teaching as faculty or teaching assistants.

To maintain appropriate, professional and inclusive standards,

It is always inappropriate to

•    comment, especially negatively, on the physical appearance/attractiveness of students, colleagues, staff or yourself
•    use language, gestures, humour,  sarcasm or innuendo which could be interpreted to suggest that bias, discrimination, preferential treatment, sexual practices, or other non-academic criteria, will be used in evaluating academic work or  professional duties
•    stereotype people, or use gender, racial or classist stereotypes in teaching or interactions with students
•    use humour or sarcasm which, regardless of intent, could be interpreted to be offensive. Issues such as cultural or religious practices; sexual practices or preferences; race, sexual, gender or class identities; political commitments and/or academic projects should not be subjects of jest or sarcasm
•    act in an unprofessional manner, including any of the above, at events organized by and/or for members of the Department; this includes social events, on or off campus.

It is advisable to

•    remember that there is an expectation not only of fairness, but of the appearance of fairness; ensure that criteria are transparent and expressed clearly
•    reflect on and understand the specificity of your knowledge regarding inclusive/exclusive practices and respect the specificity of the knowledge of others
•    reflect on and understand that oppressive practices involve trauma and violence, and that university classrooms include those who experience such trauma and violence; discussions need to advance learning while being mindful of the risk of triggering such experiences
•    maintain a high level of professionalism and set a positive example of inclusive, respectful conduct at all times, especially at university or departmental events
•    remember that there is an expectation of collegial behaviour; take seriously suggestions or complaints from colleagues or students about behaviour or comments, and consider ways to  improve collegial relations
•    apologize for, and refrain from repeating, any inappropriate or unprofessional behaviour or remarks about which colleagues or students have indicated discomfort
•    refrain from socializing with individual students to avoid an appearance of favouritism and risk to yourself or the student(s)
•    encourage students to write in an inclusive manner including gender and race neutral language
•    educate students on equity issues through your course syllabi, and through introductory lectures and tutorials to set a positive tone
•    avoid financial interactions, provision of gifts, or recruitment of services that could be interpreted to influence academic assessments or professional relationships
•    avoid personal comments in e-mail correspondence
•    keep your office door open when meeting with students, unless confidentiality merits otherwise
•    ensure that you are fully informed about acceptable norms and practices (see brief list of resources below); if you are unsure whether your behaviour or comments could be considered offensive or in violation of university policy, take advantage of the expertise available and get the information
•    avoid wearing fragrances or perfumes that could create an unhealthy atmosphere for those with scent sensitivities

You have a responsibility to:

•    guide classroom discussions to facilitate an inclusive atmosphere, and intervene when discussions turn to issues that may make some students feel unsafe
•    understand that all teaching faculty and teaching assistants are perceived as representative of the Department of Gender Studies, and this extends beyond the classroom to include official events on and off campus
•    appreciate people from diverse backgrounds and/or with diverse capacities; demonstrate your interest to welcome those who are marginalized by class, race, gender, ability and/or sexuality, but do not force public identification as this may increase their marginalization
•    remember that behaviour matters, and that a standard of excellence in teaching, supervision and research requires a similar standard in professional and mature behaviour
•    keep in mind that participation in university-related activities or programs often demands judgment about unexpected situations; every effort should be made to address situations that are perceived to be potentially damaging to the climate of teaching and learning in the department in a prompt and professional manner, respecting the rights of all participants and confidentiality where appropriate
•    remember that silence on the part of colleagues or students should not be interpreted to suggest compliance or comfort; there are risks, or the perception of risks, involved in speaking out when a climate conducive to prejudice or discrimination arises; if in doubt, seek advice
•    create conditions that indicate a willingness to listen and hear concerns from colleagues and students regarding any of the above; let colleagues and students know that these issues are important to you, and that you are willing to be supportive and act accordingly
•    work towards creating an inclusive and anti-oppressive environment in the classroom, the tutorial, the lounge, the office, the hallways and in all other public spaces on campus

This document was passed by the Gender Studies Department Committee in January 2012.