Committee says Pitt applications should offer more gender choices


Pitt’s employment application, and at least some of the University’s student applications, still lack a spectrum of gender choices, said members of the Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Advocacy Committee of the University Senate at their Jan. 18 meeting, and the committee plans to ask Pitt to change that.

A screen shot of a Pitt application, offering only the gender choices of “male,” “female” and “I do not wish to provide this information,” caused committee co-chair Natasha Tokowicz, a psychology faculty member, to note that “some of the jobs are written to be very inclusive, but when you reach that part of the application” inclusivity is lacking.

Brenda Cassidy of the School of Nursing, another committee member, reported that her school’s student applications and other student applications of which she is aware contain only “male,” “female” or “other” as gender alternatives.

“It could be a push is needed,” said Tokowicz, “for … the University to change that.”

Flexibility sought during pandemic

Economics sophomore Danielle Floyd, Student Government Board representative on the committee, told the meeting that “a lot of students have been really frustrated with the flexibility” — or lack thereof — in teaching methods: “They're not offering a hybrid option for students” to attend classes remotely, given the higher numbers of COVID cases right now.

University Senate President Robin Kear cautioned that faculty had requested, and the provost’s office had already approved, individual instructors’ options to choose whether to record individual classes or create a remotely accessible version of their courses, since “the pedagogical differences” between the two versions can be large.

Floyd responded that “a lot of students are catching COVID” — at least the recent numbers are high for Pitt — “and if faculty could be most flexible at this time” that would be most desirable.

The committee also suggested the University should be providing more and better masks to students and employees. Two days later the COVID-19 Medical Response Office announced that, “Beginning the week of Jan. 24, N95 or equivalent respirators will be available at the concierge entrances to University buildings for those who want them,” adding that “For most people, a well-fitting surgical, cloth or KN95 mask is effective for everyday use.”

Originally rated for hospital use, the N designation signals a mask certified in the United States while KN is reserved for masks certified internationally. While both have been shown to block 95 percent of disease-causing particles in their original rating tests, at least one U.S. regulatory body has found less effectiveness in the KN variety of mask.

Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-758-4859.


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