First, the bad news: Not only were there no women in the final 19 researchers selected as the first Canada Excellence Research Chairs, there were none in the short list of 36 proposals either.
Now, some better news: The government asked three leading female academics to probe what happened. Their report and its recommendations have been obtained by the national media.
Lest one think that the Canadian government is acting purely out of concern for justice and the cause of fairness for women researchers, it’s worth noting that the federal government has already faced a successful human-rights challenge over the lack of women awarded grants under its Canada Research Chair program.
The report’s authors–University of Alberta president Indira Samarasekera, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, head of the Council of Canadian Academies, and granting council head Suzanne Fortier – make recommendations to improve female participation. These include introducing a “rising stars” category, as well as one as for “established leaders,” a move that would change the aim of a program billed as a magnet for top talent. They also recommend broadening the areas of the search and introducing an “open” category. Limited time was also a factor, they say. With very short deadlines, the old boys’ network was more likely to play a role in who was considered. They also recommend a shorter list of nominees as women may be reluctant to take part in a nomination process in which the odds of success are around 50%.
The full story is here.