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University of Calgary falls short of equity targets for research chair holders

By Scott Strasser, May 16 2016 —

The University of Calgary failed to meet its Canada Research Chair diversity hiring targets.

While most of Canada’s top 15 research universities managed to achieve at least two of the four CRCP diversity hiring targets, the U of C failed to meet any.

The Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP) oversees research professorships and scholarships at Canadian universities. The CRCP sets diversity hiring targets for four marginalized groups to fill Canada Research Chairs.

The equity targets include 15 per cent of research chairs being held by visible minorities, four per cent by the physically disabled and one per cent by indigenous groups. The target for CRCs held by women varies depending on the university, but is generally around 30 per cent.

“We know that there has been underrepresentation for these groups among university faculties. It’s important to make sure there are no barriers for them to access the program,” said CRCP manager of policy, performance and planning Louise-Michelle Verrier.

Verrier said the equity targets are set every three years according to the estimated demographics of eligible academics.

The CRCP steering committee sent a letter to Canadian university presidents on April 28 expressing concern for the lack of diversity among research chair holders.

“We are especially concerned by the very slow progress being made in this regard,” reads the letter. “We are calling on you and your colleagues to sustain and intensify your efforts, in order to address, as soon as possible, the underrepresentation of individuals from the four designated groups within the program.”

As a collective, Canadian universities narrowly missed the CRCP diversity targets. Twenty-nine per cent of Canada’s active 1,690 research chairs are held by women, 13.1 per cent by visible minorities, 0.95 per cent by indigenous Canadians and 0.59 per cent by persons with physical disabilities.

The U of C fell short of all four targets. Women currently hold 10 of the U of C’s 56 active CRCs — 12 per cent short of the university’s 30 per cent objective.

The university declined to share specific numbers for the other three categories, stating there could “be inaccuracies in the self-reported nature of the data.”

U of C administration declined an interview request but issued a statement:

“We share the goal of universities across Canada to continue making progress toward having our active Canada Research Chairs be reflective of the community while ensuring the highest standards of academic excellence across our faculties.”

“While there are gaps between our Canada Research Chair diversity targets and our current occupancies, we are making significant progress toward our goals,” reads the statement.

Of the country’s top 15 research universities, the University of Ottawa was the only other school to not meet any of the CRCP’s diversity hiring targets.


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