Page 1

Volume 54 - Issue 3


October 7, 2020




Since 1967

a t o S n S e O u s B s i L R

Photo: Jimmy Kwan / Jes Mason



Passing the bars By Libaan Osman Ryerson law student Ish Aderonmu spent more than 500 hours observing cases at the Superior Court of Justice from 2018 until its shutdown earlier this year due to COVID-19. Soon enough, he became a regular at the courthouse. It was all to understand the Canadian justice system and see if a career in law was truly what he wanted to pursue. But before he was interested in understanding the criminal justice system, the now 36-year-old was part of it—he was arrested about a decade ago in Philadelphia, PA., for trafficking marijuana.

“Why’d you move here? Oh, I just got deported from the United States” “I got into the cannabis game a little too early. I’m getting weed shipped in from California to [Philadelphia] and I see this huge opportunity to get out the hood, get out of my parents’ house, all of that stuff,” said Aderonmu. “It’s going really well at the start, but then a package I order comes in hot.” A shipping delivery gone wrong ended with a dozen police officers pointing guns at him and telling him to get on the ground. His bail was originally set for $200,000—Aderonmu would hire a criminal lawyer that his friend knew to help fight the charges. Aderonmu wanted to avoid a felony on his record, but during the trial, his lawyer told him a deal was on the table. If he plead guilty to possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, he’d be facing only two years of probation and six months of house arrest. But if they lost the trial, his lawyer said he could be facing up to five years in prison. With not much time to think the offer through, he agreed to the plea deal. But what Aderonmu wasn’t told was his guilty plea could affect his immigration status in America. Aderonmu was born in Nigeria but he and his family moved to Winnipeg when he was three years old, and later Toronto. He and his family became Canadian citizens in 1993 but relocated once again when he was 13 after his father landed a job in Pennsylvania at a prison as an Imam. Aderonmu would become a legal and permanent resident of the United States, but according to the judge, agreeing to the plea deal had the potential of getting him deported. He was advised not to worry about it; his lawyer said they talked with the district attorney and they wouldn’t pursue that route. But about a year after his conviction, two Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested Aderonmu while he was out walking his dog. By then, he was already

done house arrest, was on probation and would frequently check in with his probation officers. It was nearly two years since his initial arrest, but that didn’t stop ICE. He was taken to the Department of Homeland Security Office in downtown Philadelphia where he was informed his guilty plea would mean his arrest. He was sent to York County Prison—three hours away from the city. Aderonmu spent the next month trying to figure out his next move, polling other inmates to figure out what their situation was, how they got there and what his best course of action was. He heard stories of people from Jamaica, Liberia and South Sudan who’d been there for about two to three years. He worried he’d be stuck for just as long. “My first court day was guaranteed within seven days by law, second court day guaranteed within three weeks by law, third court day zero guarantee. So I knew by talking to other people that their third court day sometimes didn’t show up for another six to eight months,” said Aderonmu. This led to him asking for a voluntary departure to Canada to try and figure out his situation while being able to live freely. After 45 days, Aderonmu was shipped across the border and found himself moving in with family in Brampton for about six months, before eventually moving back to Toronto. According to voluntary departure rules in the United States, Aderonmu wouldn’t be allowed to travel back to Philadelphia for at least a decade. That forced him to leave behind family and friends to create a new life in Canada. For about six years, he bounced from job to job trying to make ends meet, while also trying to find roommates and hide the fact that he was a convicted felon. Dealing with the stigma and assumptions around his criminal record proved difficult to navigate and made it harder to find a place to live. “When I first got here, I wasn’t telling [anybody],” said Aderonmu. “It’s like ‘Hey, I would like to live with you. Oh, why’d you move here? Oh, I just got deported from the United States.’” On a few occasions, Aderonmu would find a place and express interest in moving in, only for his potential roommates to say they’d found another person to live with. Upon emailing them under a fake alias, it would turn out that the place was actually still available. Aderonmu felt vulnerable about opening up about his felony in the past but hiding made it much tougher to come to grips with his situation. In 2018, he started to embrace that part of his past, realizing that it shouldn’t stop him from moving forward. One evening he found himself watching 60 minutes—a show he re-

How one Ryerson student’s experience in the criminal justice system led him to pursue law PHOTO: ERIN LEYDON

calls his family watching every Sunday when he was younger. The episode featured Shon Hopwood, a convicted bank robber who became a law professor at Georgetown University. It opened up Aderonmu’s eyes. “That was the moment where I said I’m going to start to do some research. The fact that Shon Hopwood did it... was enough for me. It’s been done, so I can do it too,” said Aderonmu. Having been through the criminal justice system, he thought he had a good understanding of the law and felt his own experience could become a case study. Eventually, he found himself calling the Superior Court of Justice on University Avenue his second home, in hopes of pursuing law.

“These law schools have been around for 100 years. They weren’t built for people like me” Aderonmu would get in contact with well-known lawyers while specifically looking to those that can relate to his own hardship. This is how he met Jordana Goldlist. Goldlist experienced homelessness as a teenager and had her own run-ins with the law. Now, she’s considered one of the top criminal defence lawyers in Toronto. She recalls the first time she met Aderonmu at the courthouse, where Goldlist was arguing a charter application for a client and Aderonmu was just looking to see how it would play out in court. “Initially, he really just wanted to see if this is what he wanted to do, which I think is amazing,” said Goldlist. In the past, Goldlist said she’s received emails from people expressing an eagerness to shadow her in court but wouldn’t always follow

through. This wasn’t the case for Aderonmu: he sat through one of her team’s proceedings for three days and continued to follow up. Throughout this process, he was examining his options for education. First, he looked into the University of Toronto’s law school but was turned off by its competitiveness. Then, he set his sights on Osgoode Hall Law School and got in contact with the former dean of the school, who encouraged him to apply and share his story. Between this and the motivation from Hopwood’s success story, Aderonmu felt like he was on the right path. In November 2018 Aderonmu applied to Osgoode as a mature student. He was rejected, but this didn’t discourag him. His goal remained law school: anything else was a distraction. “Any events where lawyers were going to be at, I was there. So I got to meet and learn; I had a better perspective,” said Aderonmu. While networking with individuals in the legal field, he ended up in a Brampton courthouse shadowing a criminal lawyer that told him about Ryerson’s law school which was set to open up in fall 2020. He started to do his research, began attending events at the university and mingling with people in charge of building the new law school. With no prior reputation, he saw Ryerson as a place where he could help write a new story. It’s the first new law school in Toronto since 1889. And as a Black man, enrolling in the school made so much sense to him. “These law schools have been around for 100 years. They weren’t built for people like me...It made sense to go to a place that was starting out new without all the history of exclusion,” said Aderonmu. He’s now one of 170 students

in Ryerson’s inaugural law school class, which is an accomplishment he’s still trying to process.

“If you know that you have your vision and dream, literally don’t let anyone else inside it” Back in February, he created a GoFundMe page to raise money to afford more than $70,000 in Ryerson tuition fees and living expenses that he would endure for a year. So far, he’s achieved half of his goal, receiving $39,100. Goldlist, who wrote a recommendation letter on behalf of Aderonmu, said she’s proud of him but not surprised in the slightest. “Ish has certainly confirmed that my story is helpful and is helping other people accept that this is something they can do, they can go to law school despite having been to jail or despite having their own personal circumstances of adversity,” said Goldlist. Aderonmu’s passion in law comes from the injustice in the criminal justice system. He plans to centre his education around human rights. He also hopes he can get the chance as a student to be on Ryerson’s law school admission committee to help bring a different perspective to the application process. For Aderonmu, he could’ve gone to law school quietly without even sharing his past and current struggles but wants to use his situation as a case study to show other people who face similar levels of hardship that they can also do it too. “I can say never give up on yourself. If you know that you have your vision and dream, literally don’t let anyone else inside of it. Who cares what anyone else says? Because if I would’ve listened to people, I wouldn’t be here.”


There’s No Place Like This Place, Anyplace: Rye alumnus pays tribute to Honest Ed’s in documentary COURTESY THERE’S NO PLACE, LIKE THIS PLACE, ANYPLACE

By Abeer Khan On Dec. 31, 2016, the flashing red and yellow sign of Honest Ed’s glowed for the last time. As the clock struck twelve, the new year began, and after 68 years the department store closed its doors for the last time. For many in Mirvish Village, Honest Ed’s wasn’t just a department store. In Lulu Wei eyes, it was their home. Wei, who holds a master of fine arts in documentary media from Ryerson, started filming the closure of Honest Ed’s and the sale of the Mirvish Village block as their own passion project. For Wei, this project was like a time capsule: a way to remember their community as it changed before them. They never imagined that it would become their debut film project. Opened by Ed Mirvish, Honest Ed’s was an iconic discount store at the intersection of Bloor and Bathurst streets that sold low-cost clothing, home goods, groceries and ornaments. According to Wei, it was known for being a hub for newcomers to Canada who needed an affordable place to shop.

“Honest Ed’s felt like another era that somehow lasted” In 2013, the Mirvish family announced that the land Honest Ed’s occupied—a 1.8 hectare plot of land that bordered the corner of Bloor and Bathurst and extended west to Markham Street—was up for sale. Later that year, David Mirvish, Ed Mirvish’s son, sold the site to Westbank Properties of Vancouver, who proposed plans to redevelop the area with a community hub and highrise buildings. The title of Wei’s film, There’s No Place Like This Place, Anyplace, was taken from the large slogan that greeted shoppers at the store. The film follows the closure of Honest Ed’s and how Mirvish Village subsequently changed. “Honest Ed’s felt like another era

that somehow lasted,” said Wei. “It sort of represents this part of Toronto that feels like it can’t exist anymore.” Wei spent four years filming by themself. They started workshopping the film and applying for funding, while making a development teaser. Through this, they received grants, and eventually the film was commissioned by CBC as a onehour documentary for TV. Wei said they didn’t originally expect the project to become a feature film until they and their partner Kathleen were impacted by the development. Many tenants, artists and business owners had to move out following the sale of the block. Though Wei’s building was purchased by the City of Toronto rather than Westbank, they had to move too. Artist and gallery owner Gabor Mezei, an immigrant from Hungary, was one business owner and artist who had to relocate due to the sale. He owned and operated his art gallery, Gallery Gabor Limited, alongside his wife, Margit, for 40 years on Markham Street. In the film, Mezei is seen packing up his art gallery before midnight after 40 years of calling it his own. Mezei said he misses the atmosphere in Mirvish Village and thrives off his memories of the neighborhood. “Just being there and meeting the other artists and people on the street was a wonderful experience for me,” said Mezei. He still keeps in touch with people from the street today. He recalled when Wei came in and chatted with him when news of the block’s sale broke and asked him if they could shoot some videos. Wei continued to visit Mezei throughout the years and decided to give him a large part in their documentary. Wei said the impact on Mirvish Village is significant since it used to hold affordable housing and rental space that’s becoming increasingly rare in Toronto. They say newer developments in the city are all about efficiency and being shiny and new, and are not affordable, which risks pushing folks out. Being queer and Asian, living in a big city like Toronto has allowed

Wei to find their sense of community. “We’re fighting so hard to be in these cities, because we just don’t feel comfortable living anywhere else,” said Wei. “I don’t really fit in a lot of places. I know I fit in Toronto, and I want to be able to live here.” Zhizi Zhuang, an associate professor at the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Ryerson, said that cities have their own unique souls that are made up of the collective memories of the community.

“It...represents this part of Toronto that feels like it can’t exist anymore” “Your memories of the city give you a sense of belonging,” said Zhuang. When that’s taken away, she said that it can be tragic, especially for marginalized, underrepresented, and underprivileged community members. “They have already been underprivileged, and they have never had their voices heard. And now that they have been displaced, they can be forgotten,” she said. “With this displacement, we’re destroying [the city’s] social fabrics and people’s connection to the community is broken.” She acknowledges that cities require development if they anticipate growth, but with these new developments, cities should first think about who will be affected the most. “I’m fascinated by how we build our cities and who we’re building them for, and wanted to explore the line between preserving the parts of our cities that make them special while creating new spaces, since we’re in the middle of a housing crisis,” wrote Wei in an email. Deborah Cowen, a professor from the University of Toronto featured in the film, said that means almost 90 per cent of the development won’t be affordable—Westbank originally received $18.75 million in government funding for 85 affordable housing units out of 800. Cowen said another problem is that affordable housing is being defined in relation to average market rents, not in relation to people’s incomes, like in many other major cities. Wei hopes that their film will start conversations around affordable housing and encourage people to organize in favour of affordable housing. “It’s amazing that [Mirvish Village] existed. It gave a lot of opportunities for different artists, and it had cheaper rents. And I think that’s really rare for Toronto these days,” said Wei. There’s No Place Like This Place, Anywhere will premiere on CBC on Oct. 8 at 8pm.

3 Editor-in-Chief Catherine “I Think We’d All Rather Not Have Depression” Abes

Design Director J.D. “Quid A Pereant Mes” Mowat

Contributors Reedah “Copy Editing Machine” Hayder Matthew “On X-Change Mode” Johnson Anna “BoG Baby” Wdowczyk Pooja “Bond Place Best Place” Rambaran Photo Ayat “All Out Against Racism” Laila “Do NOT Watch Lighthouse” Rizvi Amer Aishah “Breaking It Down For You” Jimmy “King & Bae” Kwan Ashraf Jes “Cheers 2 Annexation” Mason Samreen “Task Force Town” Maqsood Online Mariam “Actual Queen” Nouser Tyler “Airpods Pro Supremacy” Racy “EDC Let Me In” Rafique Griffin Mariana “First-Year Feats” Schuetze Madi “Looks Lovely In Lilac” Wong Jessica “Copy Editing Cween” Mazze Features Abeer “Yes Please Debate My Dhriti “Waited 15 Minutes For Rights, Sir” Khan Cath to Stop Crying” Gupta Stephanie “Dancing Queen” Davoli Arts and Culture Minh “COVID Selfies” Troung Rhea “Is It Okay To Cry After Michelle “Profoundly Moved” This?” Singh Takacs Charlize “Interior Design Sports Moodboard” Alcaraz Will “Biden Lowkey Popped Off” Dream “You Up?” Homer Baldwin Samreen “Gift of Opportunity” Maqsood Biz and Tech Sarah “Three for Three” Tomlinson Aaliyah “Hey Lovely” Dasoo Margaux “Exceptional CERCumstances” Perrin Communities Emma “Murder On The Mind” Kiernan “Lazy Gaga” Green Moore Ben “Woj of U Sports” Steiner Fun and Satire Koylan “Always Ready” Azofeifa Zachary “It’s Ukelele Banjo Time” Gavin “Your Boi” Axelrod Roman Armen “Big Fan of Copy Edits” Zargarian Media Rochelle “Lachemi’s Nemesis” Connor “We Appreciate You<3” Raveendran Thomas Peyton “Neat Handwriting” Mott Parnika “Goob” Raj Eli “Left Airpod” Savage Harry “:+)” Clarke General Manager Leila “It’s Lit” Kazeminejad Liane “Furniture Is the Fun Part” Simay “Surf’s Up” Alkan McLarty Denise “Great Emcee” McLeod Jennifer “Cat Mom” Murrin Advertising Manager Julia “Can You Rig Tho” Mlodzik Chris “GO Train Warrior” Roberts Otis “Best Boy” Roman News Alexandra “Absolutely Stunning (Car)” Holyk Heidi “Kissing The Coronavirus” Lee Libaan “Star Boy” Osman

YOUR AD COULD BE HERE No, really. The Eye is still printing and has available advertisement space for our next three print issues, as well as on our websites and microsites. Contact Chris Roberts at advertising@theeyeopener.com for rates and more information.



We Heal Together: Support group creates space for Black folks to heal from trauma By Samreen Maqsood CW: This article contains mentions of racism, generational trauma and sexual violence. Workers from Ryerson’s Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education have put together the We Heal Together support group for Black students to create new avenues for healing from trauma, be it personal or generational. Created as a monthly community healing group for Black folks, the purpose of the initiative is to confront the trauma of sexual violence and hypersexualization through group exercises tailored to Black folks, including mindfulness techniques, reclaiming narratives, multiple art mediums and guest speakers. The group facilitator, Casandra Fullwood, is a fourth-year arts and contemporary studies student. She’s worked for University of Toronto Scarborough’s Women’s and Trans Centre, Ryerson Students’ Union’s Centre for Safer Sex and Sexual Violence Support and founded a women’s collective for racialized and Indigneous folks. “I realized there was a lack of Black survivors [of trauma] in [healing] spaces and I realized that was due to

a lack of intersectionality,” she said. The support group acknowledges that Black folks need “alternative [healing] methods that are within a closed safe space,” according to the OSVSE website, because their experiences of sexual violence and hypersexualization are influenced by colonialism and anti-Black racism.

“As a Black person, you’re already seen as sexual” Because Black people may not feel comfortable reporting their sexual abuse to police, the sessions focus on restorative justice as well. A 2013 study from the University of New Hampshire showed that bystanders very rarely intervene when Black bodies are being sexually harassed or when Black people are victims of sexual violence in public. Bystanders provide even less help for Black women being harrassed in the same way as white folks. “As a Black person, you’re already seen as sexual. You’re already seen as someone who, due to colonialism, wants sexual advances,” said Fullwood. “That has been the narrative since 500 years ago. Through enslavement, that was used to justify sexual harm” against Black folks, she said.

Each month, We Heal Together offers a unique workshop with new guest speakers, mediums of expression and themes to focus on. The running theme is unpacking different forms of trauma. At their last meeting, the group had a healer come in who helped them find a way to deconstruct trauma through methods of healing that incorporate African spirituality. “It’s a way for us to connect with our spirituality like our ancestors did, while unpacking our trauma,” said Fullwood. They also facilitated an intergenerational conversation for mothers and daughters to discuss their grief. During a crocheting circle last February, the group discussed sexually transmitted infections and navigating

sexual violence. In their next meeting, being held on Oct. 30, the woman who created the Black Women’s Film Conference is set to speak and present a film about catcalling and rape culture in Black films. “We also encourage our participants in the group to find different art mediums to connect to if they want to, in expressing their trauma through that way,” said Fullwood. When it comes to sexuality, for example, Fullwood said that it’s important for Black folks to learn about their sexual desires while also teaching how it fits into Black narrative. That comes with “understanding sexual violence within generational trauma,” she said. The Black community also faces the stigma of being perceived as predatory, which is especially felt


by Black men. Being a “bigger Black person” can make you seem more aggressive, said Fullwood. “You’re not seen as someone who can be harmed,” she said. Fullwood said she hopes that participants will understand how they can still be sexual beings, despite generations of sexual trauma. Understanding the context of Black sexuality, learning consent through the intersectional lens of how Black bodies are hypersexualized and undertsanding how Black folks can interact with non-raciliazed people when it comes to sex are some of the key lessons Fullwood hopes she can impart to those who attend her sessions. Being in a settler-colonial society, it’s still important to seek pleasure and understand that there are still safe places where people can come to “unpack what white supremacy has done to our sexualities,” she said. Even though the group helps folks with personal experiences of trauma, the lessons presented demonstrate “your survivorship might be generational. You might be able to change your family’s narrative when it comes to sexual violence,” said Fullwood. “It’s also important to bring these conversations outside of this group.”

Ryerson research chair brings international scope to immigration, COVID-19 By Margaux Perrin Have you ever seen the whole world in one place? If not, you’ve never walked through the busy streets of downtown Toronto and taken in the diverse population it attracts; the subject of great appeal to immigration researchers such as professor Anna Triandafyllidou, Ryerson’s first Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Migration and Integration. Back in March 2019, the Government of Canada was set to provide Ryerson $10 million over the course of seven years to build usable research on immigration and settlement. While growing up in Greece, Triandafyllidou first became aware of the impacts of immigration following the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The wall’s collapse caused a mass immigration movement from Eastern European countries–such as Poland and Hungary–to Western countries, including Greece. Over the next few months, she watched as the majority of Greece’s population became immigrants from the failed Eastern Bloc. “I started by studying the impact of migration on national identity because I saw a very dramatic change in public attitudes in Greece and southern Europe from xenophobia to an enthusiasm about foreigners,” said Triandafyllidou. After earning her PhD at the Eu-


ropean University Institute in Italy, she went on to teach around Europe at several institutions, including the London School of Economics and the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche in Rome. Her expertise is in the governance of cultural diversity, migration and nationalism from both a European and international perspective–essentially, studying the impact of immigration on a given country’s culture. Triandafyllidou has been living in Toronto and teaching at Ryerson for over a year. When talking with Canadian colleagues about her European perspectives on immigration, she said she can feel like “an insider-outsider.” Canada applies a very different philosophy to immigration compared to many countries in Europe, Triandafyllidou said. As a “settler-colonial” state, Canada maintains the repres-

ute videos “exploring their sense of identity and belonging or not belonging,” according to the I am… project website. Her team is interested in exploring the concept of national identity amongst first, second and third generation immigrants. They also want to examine the emotional relationship between Indigenous people and the Canadian state. She and her team will be hosting an event for the project’s launch next semester. sion of its Indigenous peoples and culture by encouraging continuous settler occupation and immigration, according to Oxford Bibliographies. As such, immigration has always been a part of Canada’s national identity. “This whole discussion about Canada being a settler-colonial state...is unfortunately still absent in discussion about immigration and migration management between scholars and politicians,” said Triandafyllidou. Since arriving at Ryerson in April 2019, Triandafyllidou has conducted various research projects. One of them is a start-up project called I am… which is a tribute to ongoing advocacy for Black and Indigenous lives. “Through it, we really want to explore this dynamic process of identity making,” she said. The plan is to have graduate students learn to record, edit and present three-min-

“Canada being a settler-colonial state...is unfortunately still absent in discussion about immigration and migration.”

move to Canada, they will be unable to find jobs in their field. There is “almost a complete reverse of the priorities” for countries taking in workers, said Triandafyllidou. “Workers in farms, agriculture in Canada and across Europe for sure became essential workers,” since the start of the pandemic. As a result of COVID-19, Triandafyllidou and her team started “Pandemic Borders,” an online platform about the impact of the pandemic on immigration. She said they’re adding a new “twist” to this project called “Migration’s Future” to answer the question of how the pandemic is changing the future of migration. One of the greatest question is how the pandemic’s economic turmoil will effect migration. “For instance, we know that some people are worried that if they come to Canada–there won’t be jobs anymore like they thought there would be.” Although the pandemic will impact migration in many different ways, Triandafyllidou believes that Canada will still remain one of the top immigration countries in the world. “Migrating to a new country is not just about work, it’s about the whole life experience, your own future and the future of your children,” she said.

Over the next seven years, Triandafyllidou and her team’s research will focus on under-researched topics such as Canada’s political narrative towards migration, Canadian multiculturalism from different provincial perspectives, the links between migration and integration with the wider processes of change in the 21st century and more, according to Ryerson’s CERC website. Although Triandafyllidou’s team has been negatively impacted by the pandemic, she said it is nothing compared to the impact the pandemic has had on migration. Many immigrants now fear that if they Read the full story at theeyeopener.com

not a #girlboss issue

There is no one way to be a smart girl


Not a #girlgang


Managing Editor Aaliyah Dasoo Editor-in-chief Catherine Abes

By Aaliyah Dasoo I won’t lie to you. I teared up multiple times as I binge watched the Netflix adaptation of The Baby-Sitters Club this summer. I began reading The Baby-Sitters Club (BSC) series in fourth grade, and few things have inspired me in that same way since. The BSC gave me a sense of belonging. It helped me build my sense of self-esteem and identity, when I was just starting to figure myself out. And I loved the BSC because I saw myself reflected back in each book (16 of which still sit proudly at the top of my bookshelf) and not just in one character. I could be a creative powerhouse like Claudia, smart and collected like Mary Anne, cool and confident like Stacey or even Kristy, the fearless leader “The idea of of the group. In seeing mythe girlboss is a self in all four characters mirage. You can alike, I never felt boxed in. be messy, rowdy, Since then, I’ve always believed that there are other emotional; and still ways of being. But it didn’t be a fucking boss” exactly feel like that whenever I was in a professional environment. There was always an archetype for me to fall into; a way to look and a way to behave, especially when I was one of the only women in the room. There were so many unspoken rules: don’t be too loud (but I am), be overly polite (but what about when they talk over me, say my name wrong?), stay chipper (even when he’s been staring a minute too long). And most of all, take pride in being a working woman—though it’ll have nothing to do with your work. As I came into my position as biz and tech editor here at The Eyeopener, I realized how often the struggles and victories of women in STEM are watered down. There is so much more to examine in the trajectory of a woman’s career—her struggles, merits, triumphs and hurdles—than the fact that she beat a man to the job. But that’s what girlboss culture is. I’ve been privy to the unique set of vocabulary working women are subjected to, and how it diminishes their authority. Even while managing this special issue, there were so many instances where I was reminded of the way society has branded the working woman: she uses sparkle emojis “You won’t find and puts the word “She” in a single sparkle front of any pun-junction emoji in this issue” possible. It’s infantilizing, and I’ve had enough. You won’t find a single sparkle emoji in this issue. Instead you’ll read about women who are kicking ass in research, education and STEM fields. You’ll also come to understand the way women’s labour is valued in different spaces and how you can better support them. I hope that this issue leaves you with the sense that you’ve learned something about the nuance of gender in the workplace and that you carry it forward so we can one day have a truly level playing field—I know we’re close. The International Day of the Girl is this Sunday, Oct. 11. To celebrate, I would like to remind everyone of two things. First, there is no one day to challenge sexism and celebrate women: we should do so every day through our actions, not just our words. Secondly, the idea of the girlboss is a mirage. You can be messy, rowdy, emotional; and still be a fucking boss. And if you want to wear pink and use a pretty notebook, then power to you too, because there is no one way to be a smart girl. No more boxing ourselves in for the comfort of others: the only judge of your ambitions is yourself.

Visuals Laila Amer Jes Mason Jimmy Kwan Harry Clarke Julia Mlodzik

Writers Ruby Asgedome Sophie Chong Donald Higney Alethea Ng Asmaa Toor Ivana Vidakovic Anna Wdowczyk Kayla Zhu Models Daysha Loppie Zuha Tanweer

Read the full issue online at notagirlboss.theeyeopener.com

By Aaliyah Dasoo and Asmaa Toor

power to shape our thinking.” Boxer explains that since language is ingrained into the mind, it’s linked to the way people are treated. “The adjectives and phrases associated with women become attached to what [or] how women are supposed to be and we then expect them to be that way,” she says. “If we reiterate terms like ‘girl’ [when] referring to grown women, then we’re diminishing the role of women, likening all females to younger, less able beings.” Sabreena Ghaffar-Siddiqui, a sociology professor at Sheridan College also argues that the way we talk about women is linked to our perceptions of them—specifically as sexual beings. “The term ‘babe’ carries sexuality,” she explains. “The reason why we [society] use these terms is the sexualizing of women. Removing that sexuality from a woman? It hasn’t happened yet.” Ghaffar-Siddiqui says this implies that “In order to get further, you can’t just be smart,” but you have to look the part, too. “Women’s femininity is always at the forefront…It’s sold as something that’s desirable, so then we go towards it because it’s the desirable thing to be.”

1. girlboss (n): a term popularized in late 2014 by founder and former CEO of fashion retailer Nasty Gal Sophia Amoruso, after she made #Girlboss the title of her autobiography. Several other organizations followed suit, creating a culture implying that woman too, could be the CEO, the CFO, the shareholder or of course: the boss. But by coining a phrase based on the gender merit alone, “girlboss” takes away from the authority and power women can hold at work. The branding was attractive. #Girlboss made its way onto mugs, t-shirts and shareable Instagram posts worldwide. The Wing, a “women- focused” working space based in New York City, was co-founded by businesswoman Audrey Gelman. The Wing not only charged $3,000 a year for membership, but also sold merch to the women who were lucky enough to make it into the club. As reported by The New York Times, The Wing’s merchandise features key chains that read “girls doing whatever the [!@#$] they want,” tote bags that say “TAKING UP SPACE,” and socks that read “PAY ME.” Diana Boxer, a linguistics professor at the University of Florida says “anything that we do with language has the Read the full explainer at notagirlboss.theeyeopener.com



The price is wrong


hen Sarah Ahmad was pregnant in the fall of 2018, she used to drive an hour to school at York University after her morning shift as an educational assistant in Halton, Ont., and then drive an hour back home. Between the long drives and pregnancy nausea, Ahmad, who is now a first-year occupational health and safety student at the Chang School, decided to take a break and wait until after she gave birth to continue her studies. But it wasn’t that simple. When her child was four months old, Ahmad says she tried taking some courses at McMaster University but felt exhausted and overwhelmed from taking care of her newborn, studying and commuting. Ahmad ended up taking a few years off from school and work to take care of her child. She said that while the break did help her reassess her career, she felt that she had “lost a lot of years.” “It’s really challenging when as a woman, you’re trying to have a career as well and the work at home isn’t being shared,” says Ahmad. From getting up at night to change diapers to constantly thinking about what she needs to get done when she goes home, Ahmad said she feels like she’s working 24/7 with a newborn. “Even up until the point where I come from work, it’s just me until bedtime,” says Ahmad. “You’re constantly in this state of thinking, ‘What’s going to happen, how is it going to happen? How am I gonna manage?’ It’s never ending.” Unpaid, gendered labour such as caregiving, homemaking and raising children are not measured in society through systems like gross domestic product. Without measurement, this type of work is often invisible in government policymaking. According to Statistics Canada, in 2015, women in Canada on average spent 3.9 hours on unpaid work as a primary activity per day while men spent 2.4 hours. Women in Canada on average also spent 54 minutes more on housework as a primary activity per day than men. This totals to an average of 6.3 hours more housework each week. Unpaid domestic labour can include housework, raising children and caring for a family member or friend. A 2012 Statistics Canada chart shows that most caregivers in Canada are women, particularly those who care for people with long-term health conditions or disabilities. Caring for family members or friends reduces demands on health care and social service systems. In a 2009 Longwoods study, caregivers were estimated to have contributed the equivalent of around $25 billion in labour to the Canadian health system. There are real-world implications of leaving this type

Gendered labour maintains our lives, but isn’t valued by the society that governs it. Kayla Zhu reports

of work invisible in governmental decision-making. For example, without gender-separated data or a gendered perspective in areas like public transportation, the design of these systems may not fit its users’ needs. A 2012 Stanford study found that when they identified “care-related” trips as a new type of public transportation trips in Spain, it made up 25 per cent of all trip types, second to employment-related trips, which made up 30 per cent.

“Feminism is not just represented by the wealthy CEO who’s talking about making sure that women get a seat in the boardroom”

Care-related trips often involve “trip-chaining”—meaning making multiple stops—and represent a different travel pattern from the work commute patterns, which is often not reflected in the way city transit routes are planned. Amanda Watson, a Simon Fraser University sociology and anthropology professor says that when women take on the burden of unpaid work, they can become dependent on male partners, potentially forcing them to stay in unsafe situations. Watson says that the way women are “conditioned into these roles and ways of thinking about their survival” makes them feel like these home responsibilities are theirs alone to solve. “I think that has a real kind of silencing effect on lobbying for structural or systemic change,” says Watson. “There’s kind of a sense of inevitability to the way society is organized.”


Illustrations by Jes Mason

understanding and compassion for each other,” says Hwang. She believes that people often don’t view mothers as individuals with their own lives or careers, which negatively impacts mothers or caregivers looking to return to work. “From my experience, those people who are involved in your life view your child as the number one priority, and then they tend to forget about you,” says Hwang. “There is not enough support or recognition to help build you back.” Women taking on most of the burden of unpaid care work affects gender representation in the workforce as well as wage gaps. According to Statistics Canada, in 2019, Canadian women on average made $26.02 an hour while men made $29.61, representing a gender wage gap of around 12 per cent. Watson says our society values mothers socially—through Mother’s Day, media and literature, but excludes and devalues maternal work and care work economically. “There’s a tension between what we say, as a culture, about motherhood and care work and how we value it and how that work is actually represented in society,” says Watson. Watson says that the definition of work was “reconfigured” during the early days of capitalist expansion when factory workers earned wages while women became “relegated” to housework to sustain the labour force. “Gendered work or work around the house has—since that reconfiguration of work through capitalism and because it’s not waged—not been seen as work,” says Watson. The socialization of housework and caretaking as feminine also makes it difficult to lift some of the burden off of women, according to Watson. Citing Italian scholar Sylvia Federici’s 1974 book, Wages Against Housework, Watson explains that society associates unpaid domestic labor, caring for children and cooking and cleaning with “women’s natural abilities and desires.” “That makes it really difficult to argue against when we hear rhetoric of ‘I choose to do this because it’s a labor of love,’” says Watson. “We’ve sort of slipped women’s work into what is innately female in a false kind of naturalization process.”

en years ago, Karin Hwang, Ryerson office and administrative studies alum, started her own life coaching business after moving on from the real estate industry. In 2016, Hwang’s daughter was hit by a car when crossing the street and suffered serious brain injuries, and she had to stop working entirely. Hwang became a full-time caregiver for her daughter for around three years and lived with PTSD after the incident. She said the accident was so shocking and “put her in a mental space that was so low” that she couldn’t continue with her coaching business. “I couldn’t carry on with my career because my mindset wasn’t there, I could not focus on it any more,” says Hwang. “My priority was my daughter’s recovery.” Hwang has restarted her business as of this September after participating in the University of Toronto Back to Work returnship program that supports women going back to work after an extended leave of absence. “We did have the same experience, knowing what it’s like to have to take a career break and how tough it is to rebuild yourself, and having that

rowing up, Cassandra Earle, a third-year journalism student at Ryerson, says her mom used to take her and her brother to school every morning, pick them up every day and spend every morning and evening with them. Her mother decided to go part-time with her income assistance officer job when her children were young so she could be at home more for them. Earle says she didn’t realize until later in life how much of a sacrifice it was for her mother—who she says valued her career and was one of the only people in her family to go into higher education—to give up full-time work. “Now looking at it, I deeply understand on a personal level, because I am someone who is getting an education, how difficult it must have been for my mom to put that aside for her kids even though she knew it was the right thing to do,” Earle says. Without those sacrifices Earle says she wouldn’t be able to pursue university today. She says that raising children “is the most valuable type of work.” “I’m a super empathetic person because of her. I’m a better journalist, person, student,” says Earle. “She’s taught me what’s important, she’s taught me strength on so many levels, on an emotional level, on a physical level and just how to be a good person.” Jeanne Maurer, a Ryerson geography professor, says that women’s work has always been undervalued and underpaid. “These kinds of skills and this kind of work, which is arguably the most important thing we can do, raising and taking care of children, is probably the most undervalued work we do,” says Maurer.


unsung and unpaid

In light of COVID-19, both the social and economic inequalities of gendering domestic and care labour have become more evident. One third of women in Canada considered leaving their jobs to take care of house work during the pandemic, compared to 20 per cent of men, according to a recent survey by The Prosperity Project. Female-dominant workforces such as long-term care providers and early childhood education are also struggling the most to recover from the economic impact of the pandemic. Both the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. and Newfoundland early childhood educators voiced concerns about unclear rollout plans and health risks when their provincial governments announced emergency child care programs for essential workers in March. “Not only do you have a relatively underpaid and highly skilled workforce, but you also have them in incredibly precarious and dangerous situations in terms of COVID-19 infections,” says Maurer. Maurer is a strong proponent of Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) as a way to measure and make other types of work and skills visible in our policymaking. GPI is a metric that takes into account the positive and negative results of economic growth to measure the wellbeing of a country. The metric could include indicators such as poverty levels, environmental wellbeing, access to healthcare and mental health statistics. “Our pending and consumption are all measured in terms of positive and negative outcomes, which of course would mean jobs and economic growth but also might mean environment degradation and gender disparity,” says Maurer. Watson believes that universal childcare and universal basic income are some government policies that could lift some of the burden of care off of women. “Universal child care levels the playing field for women,” says Watson. “They don’t have to make certain decisions around the paid labor that they do based on the affordability or unaffordability of childcare.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in his throne speech on Sept. 24 that low-income women have been hit hardest by COVID-19 in a crisis that has been described as a “Shecession,” a term coined by economists Trish Hennessy and Armine Yalnizyan. He announced an Action Plan for Women in the Economy that will help women re-enter the workforce and “ensure a feminist, intersectional response to this pandemic and recovery” as well as plans to create a national early learning and childcare system. Trudeau also said that the federal government is committed

to subsidizing before and after program costs to ensure flexible and flexible work. care options for families. However, criticisms of “lean in” feminism coined by Facebook chief operation officers Sheryl Sandberg, look at how capitalism has co-opted feminism for privileged women to advance in the corporate environment. New York Times opinion writer Elizabeth Bruenig said in a The New Republic piece that Sandberg’s “lean in” philosophy “preaches individual female empowerment in the workplace arle moved from Surrey, B.C to Toronto to go to rather than collective social action.” journalism school at Ryerson and says despite “giving up so much” for her career already, she would “give up everything” to have a family. “I’m hopeful that I can balance both, but honestly if it comes down to it, I would choose a family,” she says. Looking into the future, she hopes to work for a company with flexible work schedules and childcare options. She says she worries “greatly” about a future pregnancy negatively affecting her career in terms of losing a position or not getting a promotion. “To someone that’s gonna be a mom one day hopefully, it’s frustrating and intimidating because I very much value my career and I very much value a family,” says Earle. Social perceptions of working mothers have become more acceptant over time, which parallels the rising trend of parentfriendly work arrangements and policies. In a 2015 Psychology of Women Quarterly study, researchers found that attitudes towards women’s roles among adults and high school students in the U.S. have mostly become more acceptant of the idea of women working even when they have young children. The study suggests “a continued, urgent need for programs Watson says that “girl boss” culture is linked with white to help working families” such as subsidized child care or privilege, but since it “isn’t neatly tied to white skin,” more state-sponsored preschools. people can support what she calls “hustle feminism.” Flexible work arrangements, such as flexible work hours “‘It’s like, ‘Hustle for capitalism, be independent, go get that and work from home options, is another way employers can profit that’s out there for you,’” says Watson. “That’s actually accommodate working mothers. just a way of encouraging people to be complicit in the way A 2018 University of British Columbia study discovered that things are currently organized.” flexible work options were found to have reduced wage gaps She says that she thinks society is getting to a place where and barriers to mothers’ employment across most educational we’re hesitating to call that sort of representation of gender groups in Canada. equality feminism at all. With the spread of COVID-19 forcing many businesses “Feminism is not just represented by the wealthy CEO to adapt to work from home models, the future of labour who’s talking about making sure that women get a seat in the after the pandemic is expected to include more remote boardroom,” says Watson. work. According to Statistics Canada, around 23 per cent of Earle says that while she is supportive of programs like businesses expect 10 per cent or more of their workforce will subsidized child care that benefit working mothers, she has continue to work remotely. only seen those initiatives implemented in high-paying, The rising popularity of policies and programs that corporate jobs. benefit working mothers would help alleviate the burden “I look forward to the day where that exists for all kinds of of unpaid domestic work by providing affordable child care professions, all paid professions and unpaid professions.”


“I understand how difficult it must have been for my mom to put that aside for her kids even though she knew it was the right thing to do”


not a #girlboss issue

Success STEMS from supporting women and girls Biases, stereotypes and a lack of spaces for women all play a role in discouraging girls from pursuing careers in STEM fields Words by Alethea Ng Illustrations by Laila Amer


ain patters quietly outside the window as Leigh Paulseth approaches the first-grade classroom. She’ll be taking the students outside for a science workshop, so she’s decked out in a raincoat and bulky rain boots; an outfit perfect for jumping into puddles. As she steps through the door, a dozen little heads swivel to look at her. “It’s science,” a six-year-old whispers, pointing a small finger at Paulseth. “Science is here,” another says to her friend, getting up to get a better look. “Look, that’s science!” another child exclaims. Before long, Paulseth finds herself surrounded by a loose ring of curious children, peering up at her and whispering to their classmates. “That’s science.” Paulseth is now the outreach coordinator for SciXchange, which handles outreach and communication for Ryerson’s Faculty of Science. She tends to run activities for older students these days, who range from grades two through 12. She laughs as she remembers the day she became “science” for a classroom of first-grade students. “Kids have a natural curiosity, and questions make science,” she says. “They generally don’t have a lot of anxiety or anticipation about, ‘Is that a stupid question?’” So how did so many of us lose this curiosity as we grew older? Paulseth says the first adults in our lives, like our parents, tend to discourage children—especially girls—from pursuing this natural curiosity by perpetuating negative stereotypes about STEM and teaching us to question ourselves. Not only that, but Paulseth believes parents and other adults play a significant role in leading girls away from STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “Parents love their kids. I’m not questioning that,” Paulseth says. “But there is a bias within our society that says males have an aptitude for science and math, and so it’s really hard to break that.” Discouraging girls from pursuing STEM at a young age has a major impact in the workforce and the way we teach young women in to build their future career paths. In 2015, the Council for Canadian Academics found that men make up 72 per cent of STEM graduates in Canada. According to the same report, women in STEM fields are consistently underpaid compared to their male colleagues—no matter what field of work they are in. At the university level, women tend to outnumber men in the life sciences, like biology, but they are significantly underrepresented in fields like engineering and computer science.


hen she was younger, Melissa Jane Alconcel enjoyed her English and history classes, but didn’t care much about math or science. So when she entered high school and found herself actually enjoying her science classes and wanting to pursue a career in STEM, it surprised everyone—including herself. Now in her fourth year of biomedical sciences at Ryerson, Alconcel thinks she would have liked science more in elementary school if her teachers had been more supportive. “I didn’t really have encouraging teachers to push me to be interested,” she remembers. Alconcel felt her teachers had high expectations for boys in science and math but low expectations for girls, which she thinks led her female peers to believe that boys are better at those subjects. As a result, she and her peers would lose their sense of self confidence. “Boys are expected to excel and do well in subjects like math and science because they’re considered ‘boy subjects,’” she says, but for girls, “teachers didn’t really care unless they were actually failing.” These biases continue to exist in higher education. After graduation, Alconcel is considering pursuing her masters in biomedical engineering, but the reactions she’s gotten have been less than encouraging. She’s told the job market will be harsher to her. “Someone [once] told me that ‘they’re not going to hire you because you’re a girl,’” she says. In the fall of 2019, according to Ryerson’s enrolment statistics, women in Alconcel’s program outnumbered men by almost three to one (which Alconcel thinks is “pretty cool”). But in a program like mechanical engineering, men outnumber women by over seven to one. Alconcel believes popular culture is partially responsible for the lack of women in these fields. She thinks of the way female engineers and coders in TV shows and movies are “presented as someone awkward and lanky with no friends, kind of like the stereotypical nerd that everyone makes fun of,” she says. “No girl wants to be made fun of because they like computer science or they’re into engineering.” These high levels of women in biomedical sciences aren’t

unique to Ryerson. The National Science Foundation notes that women made up 53 per cent of biological and medical scientists in the United States in 2015. Vanessa Vakharia is the founder of The Math Guru, a math and science tutoring centre, and is also creator of the Math Guru award for women in math at Ryerson. She believes that shows like Grey’s Anatomy have helped to show young women that they can be skilled doctors and still have a life outside of work. “We don’t see shows like that for engineering, or for coding,” Vakharia says. Nor do we see many female mathematicians on the big screen. “Honestly until Hidden Figures came out there was basically no female mathematicians or cool scientists in movies.” Think of the scientists you see onscreen. The Big Bang Theory features one smart but awkward woman, one unintelligent woman and one woman who pretends to be unintelligent to save her boyfriend’s feelings. Silicon Valley, a show about the California tech industry, has only two female main characters, in contrast to its 11 main male characters. In Mean Girls, kids who like math are, by definition, uncool: “You can’t join Mathletes. It’s social suicide,” Damien tells Cady. While doing her masters of arts in mathematics education at the University of British Columbia, Vakharia wrote her thesis on how media affects girls’ ideas of math. She argued that the media and popular culture present math as something that makes you boring, friendless and stereotypically nerdy, which makes girls shy away from pursuing math. “What young girl is going to be like, ‘Yeah, I really want to be like that when I grow up’?” she asks. Vakharia says that the media also sends girls the message that they have to choose between beauty and brains. “You don’t have to strip yourself of your personality to be good at math for a guy,” she says. “You don’t hear anyone say, ‘Oh my god, he’s good at math and he’s so hot.’” The lack of media representation of women in STEM leads girls away from pursuing STEM fields, even if they have an interest in them. “You can’t be what you can’t see,” Vakharia says, explaining that the lack of these role models can stifle a girl’s curiosity or love of math and science. Not only are women underrepresented in STEM fields, they are also widely underpaid. For workers in tech with a bachelor’s degree or higher, the Brookfield Institute estimated that


not a #girlboss issue in 2019, women made on average $19,600 less per year than their male counterparts. “The question should never be, ‘How do we encourage girls to like STEM?’” Vakharia says. “It’s, ‘How could we create more supportive environments?’” There’s no quick answer to that question, she says, but part of it is making STEM spaces safer for young women and changing the stereotypes around these fields.


ver at York University, third-year student Nourin Abd El Hadi estimates that her software engineering program is 95 per cent male. (Ryerson is hardly better, with men making up 86 per cent of the undergraduate computer engineering program.) In an environment that is predominantly male, Abd El Hadi doesn’t always feel safe. “I’m uncomfortable when my labs end late,” she says. When she walks to the subway at night, she makes sure to have one of the male friends she trusts walk with her. The men in her program “are nice and everything, but you never know. I watch Forensic Files.” Regardless of her male peers being polite, Abd El Hadi says she experiences microaggressions every day. “It’s never blatant sexism,” she says. “It’s [more] like, ‘What are you doing, are you failing? You’re probably failing, right?’” Abd El Hadi finds her classmates seem to think she is some sort of “diversity hire” instead of someone who studied just as hard and got in based on academic merit. “My hard work is dismissed, often, for being a woman,” she says. “They say it’s a joke,” she says. She makes air quotes with one hand and fiddles with her necklace with the other. “But it’s not. It’s not really a joke.” Abd El Hadi says she thinks lack of exposure to technology at a young age is a reason why there are so few women in her program. While boys are given technology-based games and encouraged to explore their interests in engineering, girls aren’t pushed to understand the way technology works, she says. “Girls are usually given dolls or Barbie games.” As girls grow older, Abd El Hadi says, it’s difficult for them to find space for themselves in the male-dominated world of technology. Engineering and technology spaces online are often geared towards male audiences, which encourages men to pursue these fields without similar encouragement for women. “If I go to search up any tech review for a phone I want to buy, for example, male YouTubers come up always, but never a female one,” she says. “Where’s me? Where’s my representation?” Gaming communities aren’t safe either. Abd El Hadi often finds herself the target of sexist vitriol when gaming, hearing comments like, “Oh, go back to the kitchen, dishwasher.” Every year, Abd El Hadi participates in a women and nonbinary folks only hackathon: a coding competition aimed at solving problems. The mission of her hackathon, ElleHacks, is to challenge participants to collaborate to solve real-life problems in an inclusive space. Surrounded by women and non-binary folks who have the same passions and interests as her, she feels she’s able to have a larger say than in the male-dominated spaces in her program. Events, classes and programs like that can help girls insert themselves into the world of technology, she suggests.


nlike many other women, Nour Fahmy has never feltdiscouraged from pursuing her love of math. Fahmy, who recently graduated from the mathematics program at Queen’s University, says she has always had an affinity for math that the adults in her life supported. “A lot of my teachers were very encouraging of me in school, because they desperately wanted some female representation,” she says. For them, her love of math “was something worth cherishing.” Fahmy attributes some of her success in her field to the role models in her family. Growing up, she was surrounded by women in STEM fields, like engineers, physicists and her aunt who is a quantum chemist. “When I got to school and found out that that was atypical, I was like, ‘I’m not weird, you guys

are weird,’” she remembers. Seeing women in STEM impacted the way she sees her own capabilities now. “Just like any other idea that you foster from a young age, it’s hard to break out of,” she says. Not all the women in Fahmy’s program at Queen’s were lucky enough to never feel discouraged from their chosen career path. Some faced discomfort even at a university level, like when they entered predominantly male spaces like STEM conferences. “It’s not that men will talk down to them or anything, but it’s just the phenomenon of being one of the very, very few girls at a math or physics conference,” Fahmy says. “That can attract a lot of attention, which isn’t negative but it isn’t positive either, just because you’re an attractive female in a very, very male-dominant setting.” Fahmy herself has faced judgement on her love of maths. But she remembers how her mother, an engineer, taught her not to take these judgements to heart. “People might not understand or like me,” she says, but “it wasn’t worth sacrificing what I wanted to do or my happiness because of all these snotnosed kids in the third grade.” From grade school to university and into the working world, Fahmy says she has never felt anything but empowered in STEM spaces. But her experience is far from the norm for girls and women with an interest in STEM. How do we do better for the girls who want to be engineers or computer scientists?

“The question should never be, ‘How do we encourage girls to like STEM?’ It’s, ‘How could we create more supportive environments?’”

Change can start in the classroom. In high school, Erin Sperling knew she could be a scientist. She loved whales, did well in science class and didn’t see any reason why she couldn’t go into conservation research. Although she eventually ended up in science education instead of research, Sperling attributes her confidence to supportive teachers who encouraged and validated her love for science. Sperling now teaches in the School of Early Childhood Studies at Ryerson and has recently earned her PhD in education. She teaches the students who may become teachers in the future. For her own students, she tries to model what it looks like to break away from traditional male-dominated ideas of science, prioritizing non-male, non-white scientists as examples in class. Sperling has a set of cards that have illustrations of famous women in science, and she uses them to integrate discussions of these women’s work into her classrooms. “There’s some conversation, discussion that becomes embedded and very much normalized” in the classroom when students see a variety of scientists who aren’t white men, she says. Participating in these conversations allows her students to reproduce this inclusivity and break biases in their own classrooms when they become teachers themselves. Sperling says that not only do teachers have to learn to break down their biases in their curriculums and in the way they teach, they also have to watch for the small moments where they may end up favouring white, male voices. “There also has to be a bit of teacher and facilitator awareness of allowing more time for people to think and answer, not just calling on boys.” You can have the best teaching methods in place, but empowering girls to love science starts “in those moments of allowing students to have voice, and not reproducing that privileging of male voices in the classroom,” Sperling says. “The very basic approach is the idea that representation matters,” Leigh Paulseth says. “That’s really important to show the kids that it’s not just one type of person who goes into science.” When she runs a SciXchange workshop for elementary or high school students, she makes sure to have leaders who look different from each other, like having a woman and a man or two people from different ethnic backgrounds. “That’s what makes science better,” she says, “having lots of different ideas, lots of different questions, that one group of people wouldn’t ever be able to come up with just by themselves.”

Your anti-#girlboss required readings By Ivana Vidakovic


If we’ve learned anything from the past couple of months, it’s that we need to get more educated. This reading list is multi-faceted: there’s a little bit of fiction, a biography and creative work. The authors showcased are primarily Black, Indigenous, Queer and women of colour whose revolutionary work deserves to be read by all of us. The books on this list were compiled to do many things for you, but none of them will encourage you to subscribe to a culture of burnout, hustling and catering to capitalism. Rather, this list functions as a confirmation that ignoring our need for rest, emotional well-being and intuitive living is often detrimental to our existence. “Workaholism” is an outdated concept that’s been pioneered by a system that benefits very few. As women we shouldn’t be looking to fit into this system to feel successful, but rather to build our own systems. As Audre Lorde proclaimed, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”. So, here are some works recommended by women from the Ryerson community that are written by women, for women. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer This book is both a biography and nature writing, however neither of these genre classifications can truly encapsulate Kimmerer’s ability to use nature as a tool to unpack our base fears and truths. Each chapter is a unique story from Kimmerer’s life about how nature taught her how to consume, work, love and grieve. Kimmerer, a Potawatomi woman, also investigates how her formal scientific training failed her by disregarding her Indigenous teachings as “non-academic” and therefore illegitimate to the study of plants. Her storytelling is an ode to the kind of sustainable living that isn’t corrupted by commercialism. It’s an extremely important book that exhibits reverence of the natural world and how important Indigenous knowledge is to changing systems of education and conservation. American Woman by Susan Choi For Shany Raisin, a fourth-year english literature student, this novel by Choi—an American woman born to a Korean father and a Jewish mother—stood out as extremely well-written. American Woman follows protagonist Jenny Shimada, a Japanese-American woman, as she guides and cares for three fugitives. The story, set in the 1970s, mimics that of the famous 1974 kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst. Raisin recommends this novel as one that is particularly engaging and nuanced, with an “undercurrent of a queer love story.” Read the full list at notagirlboss.theeyeopener.com


not a #girlboss issue

Dear men: Here’s how to not be an asshole to women at work

RTA professor Ali Mazalek on receiving $2.9M USD National Science Foundation Grant

It really shouldn’t be difficult, but I wrote a guide anyway


Story and Illustrations context. That said, the days when by Jes Mason a random male associate tells me I look beautiful directly corresponds Have you found yourself wondering to the days I bother to put on makewhy your coworkers keep sending up—I’ve done the math. If you find you Canva graphics on Instagram yourself muttering “takE a COmabout how to be a better ally to pliMenT” under your breath right women? Why your Facebook com- now, please consider making better ments “complimenting” her new compliments. Read: compliments profile pic only ever gets anger re- not about my body. acts? Or maybe why all the women in the Zoom call turn their cameras Don’t call me off as soon as the host lets you in? sweetie, honey, Well, maybe it’s because you’re that etc. guy—the resident office creep womNo exceptions en have learned to avoid. here, dude—this Whether you just felt the telltale is just weird. Are sense of shame or not, I’ve com- you my boss or my piled a list of basic, bare minimum grandmother? tips for how to treat the women at work—or in any place in your life— Don’t call me “one of the guys” who have to tolerate you. This is I know it’s intended as a complifor all you men out there—yes, all ment but when you really think of you. How is it so hard to not be about it, this is kind of weird. Is my a dick? womanhood inherently opposed to my worthiness of respect or is this Don’t tell women how much it just your weird way of saying you must suck to be a woman don’t want to fuck me? Thanks, but We know! no thanks.

say? My maternal instinct is going to slowly and surely thwart my professional ambitions?! Thank you, Mr. Long Island Medium, for that “reality” check. Don’t conceal your misogyny until no women are around Maybe you’re good enough at pretending to respect women that none of this has really applied to you yet. But that doesn’t matter if you and your homies get together on Xbox Live every night to t a l k about all the crazy bitches you had to deal with that day. To be honest, I’d rather you say that shit in front of me so I know to avoid you. Do tell your male peers to stop being creeps already It’s not good enough for you to not be a creep. If you’re letting it slide when the men around you are being misogynistic, then you’re being misogynistic. Keep an eye on “your boys” and tell them to STFU the next time they start ranting in the breakroom about #MeToo and how we should only believe women with “evidence.” (Side note: In a court of law, testimony is evidence.)

Don’t look at my boobs, please Don’t ask me to “name five of Here’s one I can empathize their songs” with—boobs are nice! No Dude, I’m wearing the doubt about that. But I shirt because (a) it looks promise you, there’s cool and (b) I haven’t tons of nice boobies done laundry in a online that you’re week so it’s my last allowed to look clean one. Whether at for as long as you I like the band or not Don’t tell women we’re “not like want—mine are not them. doesn’t really factor into other women” An accidental glance isn’t the equation. As a genWhy do you think this is a comthe end of the world, but eral rule, don’t ask me pliment? What’s wrong with other any more than one secsomething just to see if women? Is a woman being likable/ ond of direct eye-to-boob I know it—why do you trustworthy/intelligent some sort contact per conversation even care that much? of freak anomaly? is seriously toeing the line. Liking The Smiths isn’t a personality trait, even if you work in STEM. Don’t tell me I’m being emotional Don’t touch me without consent! Yes, I am emotional. So are you. Here are two things to ask your- Don’t explain things to me just It’s not a bad thing to be emotional self before you initiate physical con- to prove that you know them (but if it was, men would definitetact: 1. Did I say you could? 2. Would Do you seriously think I don’t know ly be the biggest culprit. A case in you do the same thing to a male col- that Parasite is about capitalism? point? How mad you felt reading league? If you answered no to eithat. Checkmate, meninists). ther of these, do not proceed. Don’t Don’t tell me what type of porn shake his hand then ask me for a you like completely unprompted Do treat women like people hug. Don’t put your arm around me. This applies to all your sexual prefIt’s cliche and it’s vague, I know, Don’t touch the small of my back erences—I don’t wanna know. I don’t but this is the best I’ve got for you. and physically move me out of your think I need to elaborate more on I would say treat me like one of way. Don’t rub my goddamn thigh this one but men, you’re not allowed your male friends, but I think that’s through my ripped jeans. Why do I to feign outrage when you read this. how I end up learning so much even have to say this? The porn thing has happened to me about your porn preferences, so more than once in a workplace. You don’t do that. Read some books Don’t call me bossy and I both know guys who say this written by women, watch some I’m fully convinced this is just a type of shit, I promise. movies directed by code word for “I don’t like women women and maybe having ideas or making decisions.” Don’t predict the future try being friends Have you ever in your life heard I’ve met so many bona with some women someone call a man bossy? fide fortune tellers in my without the goal life that it’s not even imof sleeping with Don’t tell me that I look pressive anymore. I’m gothem. Hopefully beautiful today ing to have kids in seven you’ll start to realize This is another one that you years and have to decide bethat we’re really not so might think is a compliment, and tween being a shitty mother different and gender it can sometimes depend on the and giving up my career, you doesn’t actually exist.

By Ivana Vidakovic Ryerson professor Ali Mazalek, along with Mike Tissenbaum of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and Sadhana Puntambekar from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW), have been granted a $2.9 million USD grant from the National Science Foundation for their integrative learning research project, SimSnap. Mazalek is director of Ryerson’s Synesthetic Media Lab and has been teaching at the RTA School of Media since 2013. She and her American colleagues are now diving into their research project SimSnap. SimSnap is a simulation that aims to accomplish a fluid learning environment in middle school classrooms that adapts to the content and the students’ learning needs. The goal is to integrate several interfaces, in the form of tablets that can be snapped together or separated, in order to allow for individual, collaborative, and teacher-led learning. Mazalek’s interest in merging the worlds of science and art through human-computer interaction developed during her graduate years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “It’s always exciting to take on a new challenge, especially when most of the proposals you put forward don’t get funded,” she said. “It’s nice to know we’ll have the money and the space to actually do this”. Mazalek believes that the need for technological advancement in middle school classrooms is especially critical. “They’re really starting to reason more at a higher level, but they don’t have the tools right now to construct models of their own and test their hypotheses. That ability to reason about complex phenomena is something that technology can help with a lot.” Since receiving the grant, Mazalek and her colleagues have already started their research remotely. SimSnap has three ultimate goals. The first of these is to increase environmental awareness among K-12 students. “If we continue to destroy

the environment around us, we will create a situation in which it’s very difficult to cultivate plants, so we want to convey this worldview of supporting the environment,” she said. By partnering with her American colleagues in Chicago, IL and Madison, WI, Mazalek hopes to also bring SimSnap to underserved communities that often lack access to the green space required for growing plants and vegetables. Through these computational tools, students would be able to learn about all the factors that allow for healthy plant growth, from the lower level genetics to overall environmental conditions. The third element of her grant proposal is an investigation into the appropriate balance between individual, collaborative and instructor-led learning styles. “We’re interested in this dynamic between all three learning styles, because maybe it’s not the same balance for every learning environment. We want to be able to provide this fluid, dynamic change between moments where students can each learn and reflect individually and moments where they can come together as groups to share their simulations.” Although the research project is still in its beginning stages, Mazalek has already hired two research students and is looking to hire more in the coming months. When discussing the STEM and education fields in Canada, one of her critiques is that she wishes more undergraduate students would get involved in some form of research for the purpose of developing dynamic, problem-solving skills. Mazalek admits to working very hard but she uses her time outdoors as a way to rest and process her research so that she comes back to work refreshed. She carves out the time to go hiking, kayaking and skiing in order to bring balance to her life and advises others to do the same by learning the importance of establishing boundaries. “Do all the other things that are important to your life. It helps you to re-think the things that you’re willing to do versus what you aren’t. You can say no to certain things and that’s okay.”


How Ryerson men’s soccer is staying in form even with COVID-19 challenges matches to prepare for. Prostran and his coaching staff have adapted their training styles, focusing on individual development rather than game plans. The fifth-year head coach explained that the time off has given him and the student-athletes the opportunity to focus on things that would usually be overlooked.

PHOTO: BEN STEINER Ontario in Sept. 2020.

icies in place to allow us to train together,” said Rams head coach Filip When the OUA cancelled all fall Prostran to reporters on Sept. 29. sports on June 8, many athletes were crushed, although they understood the reason. As the academic year neared its kickoff, the U Sports soccer season did not—but that hasn’t led to a lack of soccer activity for the Ryerson Rams. The Rams men’s team is back at Downsview Park, their off-campus base, despite having no matches on the docket. A majority of the roster The department has also set up a has been training at the facility three gym at the Downsview facility, allowtimes a week, something many U ing players to train there rather than Sports programs haven’t done. making the trek back to their usual “We’re blessed that we’ve got fan- space at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. tastic leadership at the university and While the team has been on the the athletics department that they’ve field, training has looked a lot difbeen able to set all the different pol- ferent than it would if there were

How COVID-19 impacts training When players show up to training, they are required to wear a mask. Before they are allowed to train, a coach asks them whether they have felt any COVID-19 symptoms, and if they answer yes to any, they can’t train that day. Following the session, there is no joking around or hanging out: everyone has to get off the field, put on their mask and leave the area. “Of course it’s tough and it’s different,” Prostran said. However, it is an adjustment that the team are willing to make to get back to some form of normalcy. Veteran goalkeeper Ali Ghazanfari thought his days in blue and gold were over when he was celebrated at Seniors Day last year, but that may not be the case. The native of Stouffville, Ont. has entered the Ted Rogers Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. With the cancellation of the season, he has maintained his U Sports eligibility for an additional year. Returning to the training pitch has been a welcome escape for Ghazanfari who found that the time off took a large toll on some of his skills. “There’s a lot of things you lose staying inside, but for me, I noticed

The silver lining One benefit of the lack of season is that many of the student-athletes have been able to take on jobs or side hustles that they wouldn’t be able to do in a regular year. Prostran spoke about how student athletes often struggle when taking on other responsibilities outside of school and sport in season. “School is the priority, and then your sport,” said the head coach. “When they start adding a third thing, everyone’s mad at you. Usually in the season if you need to work, we wish you all the best, we’ll find somebody else.” With the added time his players have this year, he has welcomed players picking up a job this fall, Matches are back for some Although U Sports soccer has not something many have done. returned outside of school-based training, some Rams are still competing. Fourth-year striker Abdallah El-Chanti is suiting up for Alliance United of League 1 Ontario, a team coached by University of Toronto head coach, Ilya Orlov, and featuring What’s next? several former Ryerson players. The next step for Ryerson’s soccer League 1 Ontario is the top diviprograms is simple: more of the same. sion of men’s soccer in Ontario, a The OUA is expected to make an ancommonplace for OUA players to nouncement by mid-October on the play in the summer months away possibility of two-semester and winfrom the school athletic year. ter semester sports, and there is a slim Ghaffur, as well as defender possibility of a spring soccer season. Alex Meczarski, are also playing in Everybody in the program wants League 1 exhibition. to get back to competition but also League 1 Ontario has returned recognized the challenges that in three-team cohorts under the Ontario Soccer’s Return-to-Play come with that. For now though, plan. Three teams can play round- they recognize how fortunate they robin exhibition games before tak- are to be in a situation where they ing a 14-day break and joining an- can train, a fact not lost on anybody involved. other cohort. a lot of my technical abilities were a bit rusty,” he said. “I was slow to react, my touch didn’t feel as good; my passing, the technical aspect was missed not being able to train.” Midfielder Faisal Ghaffur knows that the time off from soccer activities has been a struggle for many, but as student-athletes, they all have the personal motivation to keep themselves going. “We all want to stay healthy, we want to stay fit and sharp for if a season does come. We’re not sure when this will clear up, but when it does, we want to be ready to go,” said the business management student during his Sept. 29 media availability.

Ryerson women’s soccer continuing to build on 2019 success despite pandemic The Ryerson Rams women’s soccer team has returned to the field after Ontario University Athletics (OUA) and U Sports announced the cancellation of their 2020 season. For the Rams, the news was disappointing after coming off their strongest season in program history. The team advanced to the OUA quarter-finals for the first time ever, knocking off the Nipissing Lakers in a nail-biting match that culminated in a shootout.

Unfortunately they would fall victim in the quarter-finals to the No. 1 ranked team in the country and eventual conference bronze medalists, the Ottawa Gee-Gees. Despite the loss, their win against Nipissing had the team excited to improve on their success—before COVID-19 derailed those plans. “We are all disappointed with our season being cancelled,” said

Alessia Zito, senior goalkeeper. “We came off a high last year by making it the furthest that Ryerson women’s soccer has ever gotten.” “It’s hard for all the girls, especially the seniors, ending our year like this. Definitely not what we expected and although we understand why, it’s a bitter feeling.” The team is curently training at The Hangar Sport and Events Centre while following all necessary health and safety guidelines. “We train two to three times a week as of right now and have lifts. We have our own personalized gym at The Hangar which is really cool and has come in a perfect time,” said Zito. Not all the players have come back to Toronto though. Some players on the roster have been using this time to compete with their hometown club teams. That’s the case for senior midfielder Katie Joyce. The third-year player is back home in Newfoundland training with the Feildians Athletic Association (FAA). “I’ve had the opportunity to train and compete all summer with my

club team,” said Joyce. “We are currently in-season until October, competing for a provincial title.” As a senior, Joyce said she pictured her final year to be completely different, but she acknowledges people’s health and safety comes first. “I always imagined how my senior game would feel; the last time in the dressing room with my teammates, having my family fly out for the ceremony, one last run at a title,” said Joyce.

It is not yet known if seniors will be getting a Senior Day this year. Another player who has found some positives amidst the difficult situation facing the team is new recruit Emily Porteous. Porteous suffered a concussion when playing soccer at the NCAA division two level with the University of West


Alabama. The injury forced her to come back home to Canada. “I’m definitely upset that there won’t be a season but due to my special circumstance it’s nice to get a break and take the time to recover,” said Porteous. Porteous is training with the team while she recovers from her injury. One added benefit she’s found at Ryerson is the opportunity to rehabilitate and train with longtime friends from her early days playing the sport. “Being able to come back to training and having it with my lifelong friends is even better,” said Porte-

ous. “I can’t wait to win with them just like we did as kids.” Porteous and her teammates are confident this year will make the team better and set a strong foundation for future seasons to come. After last season’s newfound success, even if it was cut short by the pandemic, the team feels as motivated as ever to win. “I definitely think it will make the team stronger,” said Zito. “COVID did us a favour because it made everyone realize the love of the game we have and the fight and drive we have to want to play.”



Exclusive: Three leaked By Rochelle Raveendran On Monday, a manila envelope was slipped under the door to The Eyeopener’s office, with no sender information. Inside were the shredded remains of typed documents with Ryerson’s letterhead. Hours of careful reconstruction revealed the documents to be three first drafts of Ryerson PR statements. The restored statements have been presented in their entirety below. Statement on inadequate responses to racism on campus Ryerson maintains its stance that racism is terrible but also kind of… inevitable? You’re going to meet a lot of people in life who you won’t get along with, whether they don’t like your haircut, disagree with your politics, think you belong to an inferior race and so on. We’re just helping you get ready for the real world.

years in order to pay for the highquality subconscious racism-resilience training you receive as a Ryerson community member. We’ll do anything to ensure we don’t lose that extra income, and if that sometimes means doing nothing, well, we’ll do that too. We are, however, in the process of considering taking the necessary steps towards possible eventual changes that may potentially create a more inclusive environment, theoretically speaking. You can quote us on that. And to those of you who insist on sending us email complaints: stop sending follow-ups! They’re clogging up our Gmail storage. We’re just taking our time to ensure that we’re in the clear before we respond, like when we didn’t publish a report about anti-Black racism on campus for seven months after it was supposed to be completed.

and are graded on a scale of dolphin (A+) to possum (F-). We’re not saying your long-term economic and emotional health aren’t a priority, but we’re not not saying that, either. Be honest: is it that hard to take out a loan, get a second or third job and even skip a couple meals? That’s called adulthood, kiddos. If you’re whining because you think we charge too much, feel free to go to another university that probably charges the same.

“Ryerson has factored the inevitable explosion of the Earth

And another thing: you don’t think we have our own expenses to deal with? We spent over $10 million dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s twice the money Statement on the cost of tuition we get from our deal selling all the Let’s get something straight: Ry- footage we collect from your web“We’re not some hippie erson is first and foremost an es- cams to CSIS. Bet you feel bad about Scandanavian publicly funded teemed business institution. We’re complaining now. Ungrateful much? elementary school” not some hippie Scandinavian publicly-funded elementary school Statement on environmental issues In fact, we’ve been inflating stu- where students call teachers by their Ryerson has factored the inevidents’ tuition fees for the past forty first names, sit on beanbag chairs table explosion of the Earth into a

By Zachary Roman Members of the Ryerson Surfing Club (RSC) are “super stoked” about the upcoming second wave everyone keeps talking about. The surfing club formed just one month ago, when talks of a second wave were really starting to take off. Jake Mnews is the vice president of the RSC and says he was instrumental in the club’s formation. “My cousin’s best friend’s uncle’s mechanic’s dog groomer’s exwife’s son shared a screenshot of a tweet that was a screenshot of a Reddit post to his Facebook feed,” said Mnews. “It said that everyone ILLUSTRATION: SIMAY ALKAN

should be prepared, as the second Crush (the stoner turtle from Findwave will hit Toronto soon.” ing Nemo) that he wouldn’t miss the second one. He called his best friend “You don’t get many chances Sheena Shark right away. “You don’t get many chances to to surf around here, so me and surf around here, so me and the the Jakester were hella bummed Jakester were hella bummed when when we realized we had missed we realized we had missed the first wave,” said Shark, president of the RSC. “We knew we had to do Mnews said he didn’t look into something and spread the word so the post any further—he never reads nobody would ever have to suffer the news anyways and had seen our cruel fate again—that’s why we what he needed to see. He came to founded the Ryerson Surfing Club.” the terrible realization that he had After founding the club, Shark missed his chance to ride the first and Mnews packed Shark’s Dodge surfable wave to ever hit Toronto Caravan with their surfboards, and swore on the sacred name of wetsuits, 25 boxes of Clif Bars, two

ILLUSTRATION: JES MASON massive fireball into our twentyyear fiscal plan. As such, we will make no further commitment to environmental initiatives. Our current operations will continue until New Year’s Day 2040, at which point the Dean and their advisory council will kiss their families goodbye, make their way to the bunker located under Kerr Hall and hope for the best. You can find more information about our environmental initiatives on our web page. Sure, we included

Ryerson mainly being a commuter campus and the lack of available parking space as “initiatives,” but we needed a couple hundred extra filler words to make us look legit. Don’t act like you haven’t done the same. We’ve read your essays. And on that note, can you cut us some slack? Seriously. You should’ve accepted by now that civilization as we know it will end within your lifetime. Stop bugging us about this. Don’t you have a second or third job to get to?

ounces of weed and a water filter. They drove to Woodbine Beach and they haven’t left since. They posted their location on the club’s Instagram, @SurfinThe6ix, in hopes that more like-minded surfers would join them.

that is much larger than a surf session’s normal wave size. So far, all they have seen in the murky, probably poisonous and/or radioactive Lake Ontario waters are Tim Hortons cups, a metric shit-ton of geese and the Loch Ness Monster. But no sign of the second wave. “I heard that the second wave already broke at Western University, which is totally bodacious,” said Radd. “But that school isn’t anywhere near a major body of water, right? It makes no sense dude.” Mnews and Radd both said it’s become uncomfortable living in their wetsuits 24 hours a day, seven days a week—the thigh chafing is unbearable. However, Shark forbids them from taking the wetsuits off. “Taking off your wetsuit is as good as denouncing the long history and good name of the Ryerson Surfing Club,” said Shark. “Don’t you remember how we got into this mess in the first place? We missed the first wave. We have to be ready to hit the second one at all times.” At the time of publication, the RSC reported that they have not seen any signs of a wave forming. If you would like to donate to their Clif Bar fund, see the formations of a second wave, or if you know how to surf, you can direct message them on their Instagram. None of the RSC’s members have ever actually surfed before.

“I heard that the second wave already broke at Western University, which is totally bodacious. But...it makes no sense dude” Only one did. Norrin Radd, a fourth-year physics student, saw the RSC’s post and went down to Woodbine Beach. He has been living out of Shark’s car at Woodbine Beach for two weeks now and is currently failing all of his classes since his phone ran out of data. Still, he perseveres, patiently waiting for a chance to test out his signature silver surfboard. “Even if just one massive wave comes for us to ride it’s going to be out of this world,” said Radd. “But can you imagine how fantastic it would be if say, four, waves came? Ah, the marvels of nature.” Shark, Mnews and Radd take turns doing eight-hour shifts watching the water, constantly looking for any signs of a “bomb.” According to Stoked Surf School, a bomb is described as a very large wave, one

Profile for The Eyeopener

The Eyeopener: Volume 54, Issue 3  

The Eyeopener: Volume 54, Issue 3