Human Rights Complaint concerning the Canada Research Chairs Program
As posted to PAR-L on January 21st, 2005
Press Release: Final Evaluation Report
For immediate release
OTTAWA, January 21, 2005
The fifth-year review of the billion-dollar Canada Research Chairs Program is drawing
strong criticism over its treatment of equity issues.
The “Final Evaluation Report,” produced by R.A. Malatest & Associates for the Canada
Research Chairs Program, “gives short shrift to gender issues and fails to mention
other equity groups,” said Wendy Robbins, professor of women’s studies at the
University of New Brunswick and visiting scholar at the Canadian Association of
University Teachers in Ottawa.
“They just don’t understand it is a serious problem that contravenes government policy
for this major federal initiative to be biased against women.”
Robbins noted that, of nearly 1400 Chairs awarded to date, only 20% have gone to women.
“In a break with what has become standard practice at universities, they did not even
bother to count how many Chairs went to members of other designated groups,” Robbins
“Systemic sex discrimination cuts down the competition for positions and therefore
lowers the quality of teaching and research, as feminists have been pointing out for
decades,” notes Michèle Ollivier, a University of Ottawa sociologist. “In the name of
‘excellence,’ excellence suffers.”
In 2003, a group of eight women professors from across Canada, led by Robbins, filed a
human rights complaint against Industry Canada, the main funder of the Canada Research
Chairs Program, claiming discrimination against women and calling for access to data on
other equity groups.
“The complaint is still in the queue at the Canadian Human Rights Commission,” said
Established in 2000, the Canada Research Chairs Program is seen as a key component in
the federal government’s strategy to become a world-leader in the “knowledge-based
For further information:
firstname.lastname@example.org (University of New Brunswick)
email@example.com (Université d'Ottawa)