Chilly Climate 2.0: Women’s Experiences of Harassment and Discrimination in Canadian Higher Education




Gender, Discrimination, Harassment, Chilly Climate, Academia


This research examines the extent to which issues identified in Breaking Anonymity (The Chilly Collective, 1995) are still salient despite new EDI mandates/programs which support increased research excellence through EDI principles. We present survey results for Canadian academics who identify as women (n = 244) regarding their experiences with gender-based harassment and discrimination. Our analysis identified three categories of patriarchal gendered control: (1) overt practices, (2) covert practices, and (3) a systematic effort to silence the reporting of these experiences. We highlight the voices of women academics as they provide personal insights into the continuing barriers through their experiences. Through their stories, the implications of existing overt and covert harassment and discrimination practices are discussed. Our study provides an overview of women academics’ experiences with oppression by their male colleagues and contributes to research exploring equity and inclusion in higher education and the continued need to work toward gender equity.

Author Biographies

Janette Hughes, Ontario Tech University

Janette Hughes is a Canada Research Chair, in Technology and Pedagogy and Professor in the Faculty of Education at Ontario Tech University. She is the recipient of multiple research and teaching awards and research grants. She is widely published and is author of four books, including Makers, Making and Makerspaces. Dr. Hughes is a prolific author and presenter, sharing her work both nationally and internationally in prestigious scholarly and professional journals, keynote talks, and conferences. She has presented more than 125 peer-reviewed research papers conferences across Canada, the United States, Europe, Asia, and South America. Attesting to the recognition of her leadership in technology and pedagogy, Dr. Hughes is routinely contacted by school districts, Ministry personnel and industry partners to consult on a variety of topics, including equity issues in ed tech and women in STEM. For more information, visit her research website at:

Hannah Scott, Ontario Tech University

Hannah Scott is a Full Professor and Founding Member of Ontario Tech University (OTU; formerly UOIT) in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, in the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Alberta, Canada, and her specializations include victimology, workplace bullying, evaluation, statistics, and homicide studies. She has worked in the United States and Canada on several inter-agency initiatives. She was the founding Director of the Centre for Evaluation and Survey Research (CESR) at UOIT. She has also served as President of her Faculty Association and Grievance Officer. Her current interests lie in the areas of workplace victimization, homicide studies, evaluation, and victimization patterns in public vs. private spaces. For more information please visit her profile page at For more information on the workplace bully project please visit:

Laura Jane Morrison, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Laura Morrison is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Ontario Tech University. She completed her Ed.D. at the University of Calgary with a focus on promising practices associated with online pre-service teacher education. Over the past 11 years, Laura has published/co-published prolifically, including 20 scholarly articles, 14 book chapters and 13 conference proceedings, and she has presented research at over 35 national and international conferences. Laura's areas of expertise include online teaching and learning, critical digital literacies and making for education.

Donna Kotsopoulos, Western University

Donna Kotsopoulos is the Dean and a professor at the Faculty of Education, Western University, London, Canada. She is cross appointed to the DAN Department of Management & Organizational Studies, Faculty of Social Science. She is the President of Senior Women Academic Administrators of Canada. She is an Ontario Certified Teacher.  Her research explores mathematics learning across the lifespan as well as postsecondary education – particularly strategic resource allocation, leadership, and university governance. Her service, research, and teaching have been recognized with several awards, including the John and Gail MacNaughton Prize for Excellence in Teaching (2020), an OCUFA teaching award (2014), the Fields Institute Fellow (2017) through the esteemed Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences.

Robyn Ruttenberg-Rozen, Ontario Tech University

Robyn Ruttenberg-Rozen is an Assistant Professor of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) education at Ontario Tech University. Her interdisciplinary research explores the tensions and possibilities of belonging and inclusion in STEAM learning environments for typically underserved, linguistically and culturally diverse, and exceptional populations of learners. Dr. Ruttenberg-Rozen has been recognized for her teaching and research, including early career teaching awards, as a scholar in residence, and multiple research grants. Currently, Dr. Ruttenberg-Rozen is leading a team of international and transdisciplinary researchers exploring how agentic strategies can be nurtured to support belonging for historically marginalized women in undergraduate STEM programs. More information about this project and others can be found on her Ideass Lab website:


Acker, S., & Muzzin, L. (2019). Minoritized faculty in Canada’s universities and colleges: Gender, power and academic work. In L. Nichols (Ed.) Working women in Canada: An intersectional approach, (pp. 117–202). Women’s Press.

Ahmed, S. (2014). Willful subjects. Duke University Press.

Ahmed, S. (2021). Complaint! Duke University Press.

Amanatullah, E. T., & Morris, M. W. (2010). Negotiating gender roles: Gender differences in assertive negotiating are mediated by women’s fear of backlash and attenuated when negotiating on behalf of others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(2), 256–267.”

Armstrong, M. A., & Jovanovic, J. (2015). Starting at the crossroads: Intersectional approaches to institutionally supporting underrepresented minority women STEM faculty. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 21(2), 141–157.

Arnold, W. N., & Crawford, E. R. (2016). Psychological heuristics and faculty of color: Racial battle fatigue and tenure/promotion. The Journal of Higher Education, 87(6), 890–919.

Berdahl, J. L. (2007). Harassment based on sex: Protecting social status in the context of gender hierarchy. The Academy of Management Review, 32(2), 641–658.

Canadian Association of University Teachers. (2018). 2.1 Average and median salaries of full-time university teachers by rank and gender, 2016–2017.

Carr, P. L., Helitzer, D., Freund, K., Westring, A., McGee, R., Campbell, P. B., Wood, C. V., & Villablanca, A. (2018). A Summary report from the research partnership on women in science careers. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 34(3), 356–362. Htpps://

Castilla, E. J. (2015). Accounting for the gap: A firm study manipulating organizational accountability and transparency in pay decisions. Organization Science, 26(2), 311–333.

CFI Group. (2017). Technical report: National Park Service (NPS) work environment survey January-March 2017.

Chapman, E. N., Kaatz, A., & Carnes, M. (2013). Physicians and implicit bias: How doctors may unwittingly perpetuate health care disparities. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 28(11), 1504–1510.

Creswell, J. W., & Guetterman, T. E. (2019). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (6th ed.). Pearson Education.

de Haas, S., & Timmerman, G. (2010). Sexual harassment in the context of double male dominance. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 19(6), 717–734.

Domingo, C. R., Gerber, N. C., Harris, D., Mamo, L., Pasion, S. G., Rebanal, R. D., & Rosser, S. V. (2020). More service or more advancement: Institutional barriers to academic success for women and women of color faculty at a large public comprehensive minority-serving state university. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. Advance online publication.

Dresden, B. E., Dresden, A. Y., & Ridge, R. D. (2018). The boys club: Engineering a more positive environment for women in male-dominated majors. Social Sciences, 7(2), 17–26.

Dresden, B. E., Dresden, A. Y., Ridge, R. D., & Yamawaki, N. (2018). No girls allowed: Women in male-dominated majors experience increased gender harassment and bias. Psychological Reports, 121(3), 459–474.

Fernando, D., & Prasad, A. (2019). Sex-based harassment and organizational silencing: How women are led to reluctant acquiescence in academia. Human Relations, 72(10), 1565–1594.

Filut, A., Kaatz, A., & Carnes, M. (2017). The impact of unconscious bias on women’s career advancement. The Sasakawa Peace Foundation.

Findler, L., Wind, L. H., & Mor Barak, M. E. (2007). The challenge of workforce management in a global society: Modeling the relationship between diversity, inclusion, organizational culture, and employee well-being, job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Administration in Social Work, 31, 63–94.

Griffin, K. A., Bennett, J. C., & Harris, J. (2011). Analyzing gender differences in Black faculty marginalization through a sequential mixed-methods design. New Directions for Institutional Research, 151, 45–61.

Guarino, C. M., & Borden, V. M. H. (2017). Faculty service loads and gender: Are women taking care of the academic family? Research in Higher Education, 58, 672–694. 9454-2

Handley, I. M., Brown, E. R., Moss-Racusin, C. A., & Smith, J. L. (2015). Quality of evidence revealing subtle gender biases in science is in the eye of the beholder. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(43), 13201–13206.

Hango, D. (2021). Harassment and discrimination among faculty and researchers in Canada’s postsecondary institutions. Government of Canada.

Hango, D., & Moyser, M. (2018). Harassment in Canadian workplaces. Insights on Canadian Society. Government of Canada.

Heilman, M. E., & Okimoto, T. G. (2007). Why are women penalized for success at male tasks? The implied communality deficit. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(1), 81–92.

Isaac, C., Chertoff, J., Lee, B., & Carnes, M. (2011). Do students’ and authors’ genders affect evaluations? A linguistic analysis of medical student performance evaluations. Academic Medicine, 86(1), 59–66.

Isaac, C., Kaatz, A., Lee, B., & Carnes, M. (2012). An educational intervention designed to increase women’s leadership self-efficacy. CBE Life Sciences Education, 11(3), 307–322.

Jaschik, S. (2014, August 18). Productivity or sexism? Inside Higher Education.

Kanter, R. M. (1977). Men and women of the corporation. Basic Books.

Larivière, V., Ni, C., Gingras, Y., Cronin, B., & Sugimoto, C. R. (2013). Bibliometrics: Global gender disparities in science. Nature, 504(7479), 211–213.

Lennartz, C., Proost, K., & Brebels, L. (2019). Decreasing overt discrimination increases covert discrimination: Adverse effects of equal opportunities policies. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 27(2), 129–138.

Martinez, E. (1998). De colores means all of us: Latina views for a multi-colored century. South End Press.

Mason, M. A., Wolfinger, N. H., & Goulden, M. (2013). Do babies matter? Gender and family in the ivory tower. Rutgers University Press.

McClelland, S. I., & Holland, K. J. (2015). You, me, or her: Leaders’ perceptions of responsibility for increasing gender diversity in STEM departments. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 39(2), 210–225.

McLaughlin, H., Uggen, C., & Blackstone, A. (2012). Sexual harassment, workplace authority, and the paradox of power. American Sociological Review, 77, 625–647.

Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M., & Saldana, J. (2020). Qualitative data analysis: A methods source book (4th ed.). SAGE.

Millar, P. E., & Barker, J. (2020). Gender and academic promotion to full professor in Ontario. Canadian Journal of Sociology, 45(1), 47–70.

Misra, J., Lundquist, J. H., Holmes, E., & Agiomavritis, S. (2011). The ivory ceiling of service work: Service work continues to pull women associate professors away from research. What can be done? American Association of University Professors.

Momani, B., Dreher, E., & Williams, K. (2019). More than a pipeline problem: Evaluating the gender pay gap in Canadian academia from 1996 to 2016. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 49(1), 1–21.

Moss-Racusin, C. A., Dovidio, J. F., Brescoll, V. L., Graham, M. J., & Handelsman J. (2012). Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(41),16474–16479.

O’Meara, K. A., & Stromquist, N. P. (2015). Faculty peer networks: Role and relevance in advancing agency and gender equity. Gender and Education, 27(3), 338–358.

Pyke, K. (2014). Faculty gender inequity and the ‘just say no to service’ fairytale. In K. De Welde & A. Stepnick (Eds.), Disrupting the culture of silence: Confronting gender inequality and making change in higher education (pp. 83–95). Stylus.

Rogus-Pulia, N., Humbert, I., Kolehmainen, C., & Carnes, M. (2018). How gender stereotypes may limit female faculty advancement in communication sciences and disorders. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 27(4), 1598–1611.

Salomon, G., & Cairns, E. (2010). Handbook on peace education. Psychology Press.

Sandler, B. R. (1986). Campus climate revisited: Chilly for women faculty, administrators, and graduate students. Project on the Status and Education of Women, Association of American Colleges.

Scott, H. S. (2022). The workplace power-control wheel.

Scott, H. S. (2018). Extending the Duluth model to workplace bullying: A modification and adaptation of the workplace power-control wheel. Workplace Health & Safety, 66(9), 444–452.

Settles, I. H., Cortina, L. M., Buchanan, N. T., & Miner, K. N. (2012). Derogation, discrimination, and (dis)satisfaction with jobs in science: A gendered analysis. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 37(2), 179–191.

Sheltzer, J. M., & Smith, J. C. (2014). Elite male faculty in the life sciences employ fewer women. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of America, 111(28), 10107–10112.

Statistics Canada. (2021). Gender parity and the gender salary gap: Progress of full-time university academics over the last 40 years.

The Chilly Collective (Ed.). (1995). Breaking anonymity: The chilly climate for women faculty. Wilfrid Laurier Press.

Turpin, D. H., De Decker, L., & Boyd, B. (2014). Historical changes in the Canadian university presidency: An empirical analysis of changes in length of service and experience since 1840. Canadian Public Administration, 57(4), 573–588.

Universities Canada. (2019). Equity, diversity and inclusion at Canadian universities: Report on the 2019 survey.

Universities Canada. (2022). Stats on equity, diversity and inclusion at Canadian universities.

Uppal, S. & Hango, D. (2022). Differences in tenure status and feelings of fairness in hiring and promotions among male and female faculty in Canadian universities. Statistics Canada.

Williams, J. C. (2014). Double jeopardy? An empirical study with implications for the debates over implicit bias and intersectionality. Harvard Journal of Law & Gender, 37, 185.

Williams, K. D., & Zadro, L. (2001). Ostracism: On being ignored, excluded, and rejected. In M. R. Leary (Ed.), Interpersonal rejection (pp. 21–53). Oxford University Press.

Wood, J. L., Hilton, A. A., & Nevarez, C. (2015). Faculty of color and white faculty: An analysis of service in colleges of education in the Arizona public university system. The Journal of the Professoriate, 8(1), 85–109.

Workplaces Respond to Domestic and Sexual Violence: A Notional Resource Centre. (n.d.). Workplace climate surveys.

Zambrana, R. E., Dávila, B. A., Espino, M. M., Lapeyrouse, L. M., Valdez, R. B., & Segura, D. A. (2017). Mexican American faculty in research universities: Can the next generation beat the odds? Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, 3(4), 458–473.




How to Cite

Hughes, J., Scott, H., Morrison, L. J., Kotsopoulos, D., & Ruttenberg-Rozen, R. (2023). Chilly Climate 2.0: Women’s Experiences of Harassment and Discrimination in Canadian Higher Education. Canadian Journal of Education/Revue Canadienne De l’éducation, 46(2), 472–501.