New measures to recruit more women, underrepresented groups to Canada Research Chairs

Action plan will address chronic underrepresentation of members from four designated groups

OTTAWA, May 4, 2017 /CNW/ - The Government of Canada is working hard to ensure women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities have access to new opportunities that will allow them to succeed in the sciences.

When Canada's skilled and talented people have the chance to lead in research—regardless of their gender, race, disability or heritage—they bring new ideas and innovative solutions that contribute to a cleaner environment, stronger economy and healthier middle class.

In response to the continuing lack of equity and diversity among Canada Research Chairs, one of the country's most distinguished research programs, a new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan was announced today, including new measures to be introduced immediately for universities with five or more chairholder allocations.

Universities will now be required to develop their own equity, diversity and inclusion action plans to address the underrepresentation of the four designated groups among their chairholders. Universities must also report annually to the Canada Research Chairs Program and post on their websites progress towards meeting their equity and diversity objectives. Starting May 2017, if a university fails to meet these requirements by the deadlines stipulated, the program will withhold peer review and payments for those nominations until the requirements are fulfilled.

The new action plan responds to the recommendations in the Canada Research Chairs Program's 15th-year evaluation, which called on universities to adopt greater transparency and inclusiveness in their selection, allocation and renewal processes for recruiting chairholders.

The action plan focuses on improving the governance, transparency and monitoring of equity and diversity within the program by implementing best practices. This includes practices such as ensuring there is diversity among selection committee members; limiting unconscious biases; actively recruiting specifically for diverse candidates; and continually reviewing the diversity of the pool of candidates at each stage of the recruitment process.


"Our government is committed to promoting equity and diversity within the sciences. We need to work harder to ensure that talented researchers have the opportunity to advance. The announcement of the action plan is an important step towards a more inclusive, open and diverse research environment in Canada."

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

"The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan is a further reminder of the government's firm commitment to equity and diversity. Some universities have shown innovation and leadership by advancing women and members of the other designated groups to positions of academic leadership. This plan calls on all universities to continue and further strengthen their efforts to address underrepresentation."

Ted Hewitt, President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and Chair of the Canada Research Chairs Program Steering Committee

"For Canadian research to reach its true and full potential, it must be equitable, diverse and inclusive. A diversity of perspectives, voices and experiences is key in supporting innovation and excellence."

Danika Goosney, Executive Director, Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat

Quick facts

  • Created in 2000, the Canada Research Chairs Program has helped attract and retain some of the world's most accomplished and promising minds. There are currently over 1,600 chairholders working at over 70 postsecondary universities across the country in a wide range of fields. This includes the latest cohort of chairholders appointed in 2016-17.
  • Of the current chairholders, only 30 per cent are women. The underrepresentation of women in the program is due to the low number of women being nominated by universities.
  • The program will continue to address equity and diversity challenges through a public consultation that it will conduct in late spring/summer 2017.
  • The program is a tri-agency initiative of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Additional links


SOURCE Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

For further information: Media Relations, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, 343-291-1777,; Julia Gualtieri, Media Relations Advisor, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, 613-944-4347,


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