The Canada Research Chairs program is examining why many universities and colleges are failing to meet equity targets for chairholders.
In a letter sent this spring to the university presidents who participate in the program, the steering committee for the CRC program asked the institutions to make a concerted effort to address the under representation of the four designated groups in nominations for CRC positions.
“We are especially concerned by the very slow progress being made in this regard,” wrote Ted Hewitt, president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. “For example the representation of women among chairholders has not increased at the same rate as the representation of women in academia.”
The program’s equity targets are set using the “availability” approach. According to the federal government, availability is determined by estimating the representation of a designated group within the pool of potential nominees so that the percentage of the estimated representation becomes the target to meet for each of the four groups.
For women, the target is at 30.6%, but only 28.9% of research chairs are held by women; for visible minority, the target is 15% and the actual number is 13.1%; the target for Indigenous scholars is 1% and the actual number is 0.59%; and finally the target for persons with disabilities is 4 % but the actual representation is 0.59%.
The president of SSHRC has warned the participating institutions that the results of the current evaluation of the CRC program will be analyzed this fall with an “equity lens” to consider what program changes may be necessary to address equity.
“We would encourage your institution to conduct a similar review to see what changes are necessary within your own organization to affect substantive change,” added Hewitt.