WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
UNIVERSITY OF LETHBRIDGE
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
DR. DAYNA DANIELS
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
Dr. Dayna Daniels
Dayna came to the University in 1980. She began her teaching in the Physical Education Department, later named the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. She was also a founding mother and first coordinator of Women’s Studies. Dayna retired in 2011.
Dayna discusses the challenges of academic women at the University to obtain recognition and equity.
The full audio interview will be made available online in late 2017. For more information please contact the University of Lethbridge Archives. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I think the smallness of the University allowed us to ... when I say us, there was a group of women who were pretty fed up being paid less, not being given good responsibilities, given a lot of scut work, you know, but not good responsibilities. There were almost no department chairs. There were no senior administrators, no deans, there was a Head of Nursing that had to be a nurse in those days, so that pretty much guaranteed that it would be a woman but otherwise it was very difficult. Things were happening in other departments. Education had a fair number of women. Arts and Science was still very small. And I remember a number of us went to one of the deans because we were fed up with hiring committees being staffed only with men and only short listing male candidates. So, when a woman was brought onto campus and this has certainly, certainly happened to me, they never met another woman. And not that women and men can’t be good colleagues, but the social dynamic always interfered with the collegial one. And so I met, I don’t know how many men I met when I was here on my interview. The only woman I met was my colleague, well a woman who became my colleague, Wilma Winter, and she and I talked a lot and that was good, but a lot of women met no women.
So, we went to the dean and we said, ‘Anytime a woman is invited to campus for an interview, we want to be put on the schedule, we want to take her to lunch or dinner or out to drinks or something.’ And the response of this dean, and I won’t tell you who it was, was very flip and he said, ‘Sure,’ and we also said, ‘And we want you to pay for it.’ He said, ‘Sure, how much women ... how much lettuce can six women eat?’ So the very first woman who came out, I don’t remember who it was, but we took her over to what used to be 'Treats' and we ordered, we drank, we ate caesar salads and drank wine and sent him a bill for almost 200 dollars. And this is how much lettuce six women can eat. And so every time a woman was brought onto campus, some or all of us would meet with her. And in certain situations we told them not to accept the job if they had any other opportunity because certain departments, every time they hired a woman she was gone well before her first year ended because she was treated so badly. But a lot of women, we said, ‘Look there are women here and they care and we can do stuff.’ Then we got to the point where we convinced deans that if no women were short-listed, that the search would get cancelled, that if there were two candidates who were equal in all levels, they had to hire the woman. And at one point, one of our male colleagues in one department said, ‘Why are you demanding that we hire inferior candidates?’ And it was like no, no, no, if they’re equal then you hire the woman, right?
And so, at that point, Shelly Wismath went to the dean and said, ‘Look we need to show what it is that women can do,’ and she got money for the Women’s Scholar Speaker Series from that. So we did little baby steps. We would work on the Faculty Association. I was on the executive, and a member for quite some time and other woman came in and we put in maternity leave and parental leave and that was a bit of a fight. And women would come up for extension of probation or tenure or promotion and they had put their career on-hold for a year or so because they were on the 'mommy clock', right, and people would go, ‘Well she doesn’t care, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah’. Well, she had a non-traditional timeline, we have to consider that. And we made sure that a lot of these women were given their jobs. And so lots of things happened. Pay became a little bit more standardized and that had a lot to do with how much, you know, the few numbers of women that we had, we fought for stuff and it grew and grew and grew. And things are still not perfect here, but it’s certainly, I think it’s certainly a much better place for women to work.
(Interviewed by Diane McKenzie)