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Read it and weep

May 18, 2010

Wendy Robbins posted the following message to PAR-L today:

If you want to feel really depressed about women’s lack of progress in this country, check out the announcement this month of 19 new “CERC” chairholders. Of 19, guess the percentage of women: 0.

In May 2010, the first group of Canada Excellence Research Chairs was announced. These researchers were chosen through a rigorous selection process that included a review of some 130 research proposals submitted by Canadian universities, followed by the selection of 19 chairholders from a short list of 40 proposals from 17 different universities. The 19 winning researchers will each receive up to $10 million of federal funding over seven years as they work towards confirming Canada’s role as a world leader in research and innovation.

As you may recall, a human rights complaint was filed by 8 women academics, supported by CAUT, in 2003 against the government over discrimination in the original Canada Research Chairs Program; a settlement agreement was reached in 2006. The percentage of women increased incrementally; no useful data was ever released, to my knowledge, for racialized minorities, people with disabilities, or any other equity group. This latest manoevering calls for a concerted response from the academic community and all concerned citizens.

Robbins further linked to a story by Elizabeth Church in today’s Globe and Mail. which notes that “[t]here also is not a single female researcher among the 19 spots, an indication of how few women hold senior positions in science and engineering, the fields that dominate the winning entries.”


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