Defining Equity Indicators for Benchmarking Women's Participation in Science and Engineering Faculties across Canada

Quosai, Trudy Smit
Davidson, Valerie
Ghazzali, Nadia
Moloney, Cecilia
Vassileva, Julita
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This paper demonstrates the use of national and regional data sets to address the multidimensional question of equity for women in Canadian science and engineering faculties. Unbalanced representation of women in science and engineering fields has been described as a “pipeline problem” reflecting both insufficient flow of women into science and engineering positions and leakage or attrition of women from the field. This research explores the problem by comparing male and female science and engineering faculty with respect to the following equity indicators: representation among full-time faculty at Canadian universities, financial compensation, recruitment into full-time faculty positions, career progress in terms of tenure and promotion, and attrition from full-time faculty positions.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) created a program of five regional Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering (CWSE) in 1996. The mandate of this program is broad, with objectives to address both the need to encourage girls and women into science and engineering careers, and the retention of women as valuable contributors to science and engineering. There is a CWSE for each of the following regions: Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairie,and British Columbia & Yukon. In 2006 the regional CWSEs were linked formally through a National Network, supported by NSERC. The network facilitates collaborations to enhance the visibility and impact of CWSE activities at national and international levels. The regional Chairs work together on a number of national initiatives: research projects into the factors that bring about under-representation, dissemination of current statistics and liaison with national organizations (e.g. CCWESTT, Engineers Canada) and international (e.g. INWES).