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Gender parity still far off for Canadian researchers

After 20 year of equal gender divide amongst students, Canada is struggling to find a balance among the ranks of its senior researchers, a report says.

According to ‘Strengthening Canada’s Research Capacity: The Gender Dimension’, published by the Council of Canadian Academies, women now outnumber men among undergraduate and master’s students, and represent nearly half of all PhD students. However, women represent only 34.6 per cent of faculty workforce and 22 per cent of full-time professors.

The report was prompted by the results of the first Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) 2008 competition, in which it was noticed that not one of the 19 appointed chairs was female.

The report found different progress levels across disciplines. Women faculty members are best represented in humanities, social sciences and education, with nearly 40 per cent, and life sciences, with 35 per cent. They fare worst in the physical sciences, computer science, engineering, and mathematics, where they number less than 15 per cent.

The report says that the research community and institutions need to seek ways to reform in order to maximise the use of the national talent pool.

“A wider pool of researchers can translate into a wider range of excellence, with clear benefits for all Canadians,” the report says.