Expert panel report on women in university research
An in-depth, authoritative assessment of women in university research has found that although there has been significant progress in the representation of women in the university research ranks, there are still gender equity challenges that must be overcome and the passage of time will not be enough to ensure parity.
A newly released report by the Council of Canadian Academies entitled, Strengthening Canada's Research Capacity: The Gender Dimension provides an assessment of the the factors that influence university research careers of women. This assessment was requested by the Minister of Industry in the fall of 2010 after the notable absence of female candidates for the prestigious Canada Excellence Research Chairs program.
In response, the Council convened an expert panel of 15 Canadian and international experts from diverse fields who met over the course of approximately 18-months. The Panel was chaired by Dr. Lorna R. Marsden, President emeritus and Professor, York University, in Toronto. The Panel focussed on women in university research, and to conduct their assessment they used a life course model that allowed for an examination of the critical factors that impact career paths from the early years, through to post-secondary education and at different career stages.
"There is no single solution to remedy the underrepresentation of women in the highest ranks of academic research careers. The issue itself is a multifaceted one that is affected by social, cultural, economic, institutional, and political factors and contexts", commented Panel Chair Dr. Lorna R. Marsden. "There has been significant progress in the representation of women in the academy since the 1970s, and there is much to be celebrated. However, as evidenced by the wide variation in women's representation by discipline and rank, there are still challenges to overcome."
The Expert Panel developed a baseline of information regarding the statistical profile of women researchers in Canada. The major findings from the statistical profile are: