Kirsty Duncan: Feds To Require Gender Equity Plans For University Research Chairs

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OTTAWA — The federal government is expanding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's commitment to gender equality to include scientific research.

Universities that want in on a newly launched competition for 11 Canada Excellence Research Chairs will be required to prove they have detailed equity plans and recruitment strategies that promote the participation of women and other under-represented groups in the program.

kirsty duncan
Science Minister Kirsty Duncan speaks in the House of Commons on Sept. 26, 2016. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

There are currently 27 such research chairs at universities across the country; only one is a woman.

The CERC program, launched in 2008, awards universities up to $10 million over seven years to support world-class researchers.

In addition to the equity requirements, Science Minister Kirsty Duncan says the new chairs will be awarded in "priority" areas: two related to clean, sustainable technologies, at least one for business sector innovation and up to three for "open areas of inquiry" that will benefit Canadians.

The government says in a news release that equity and excellence in science are not mutually exclusive.

Everyone should be welcomed 'into the lab'

"When all people, regardless of gender, race, age and ability, are welcomed into the lab, they can work together to create breakthroughs that will help Canada seize new opportunities and respond to grand, global challenges," the release says.

Trudeau broke new ground last fall when he appointed a cabinet with equal numbers of men and women.

He has also promised that gender equality and greater diversity will be key considerations in appointments to the Supreme Court and the Senate.

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