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CAUT Bulletin Archives

June 2001

Women Are Being Left Behind in the Canada Research Chairs Program

Female researchers are being overlooked by the Canada Research Chairs program, according to CRC's own statistics presented last month during the 70th annual Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities at Laval University.

Program administrators provided data disaggregated by gender which revealed that women received less than 17 per cent of the research chairs. The data was provided at the request of Wendy Robbins, vice-president of feminist issues at the Humanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada, along with colleagues Judy Stanley and CAUT's equity officer and legal counsel, Rosemary Morgan.

The three women have spent the last several months gathering and collating data on the status of women in higher education. The results of their study were presented at the Women's Issues Network (WIN) colloquium on May 29 at Laval.

Robbins said some of the data was encouraging, but still more demonstrates that further work is needed. "Women now make up nearly 57 per cent of all university graduates, but they continue to be under-represented in PhD achievement," she said. "Moreover, the data indicate women are still under-represented in faculty." Only 26 per cent of Canadian professors in all ranks are women, with nearly 44 per cent of those in the lower ranks.

Engineering and science are the two disciplines that still have the lowest representation of female professors. While the pool of female engineering PhDs has increased from 3.3 per cent in 1972­ 1973 to 11.2 per cent in 1996­1997, their representation in all ranks has only increased from 0.94 per cent in 1972 to 8.13 per cent in 1998.

On the wage gap side of things, Morgan says women continue to suffer but are making gains. Statistics Canada data reveals that female professor earnings in all ranks combined is 94 per cent of male earnings (when rank, age and experience are the same).

"The statistics suggest that pay equity is still on the horizon," Morgan said.

The comparative earnings and representation rates of women in part-time faculty positions are not known (not all universities keep accurate records), but anecdotal evidence suggests that women continue to be over-represented in this lowest paid academic group.