This was the brainchild of Dr. Denise O’Neil Green, vice-president, equity and community inclusion, who noticed that as federal agencies pushed for greater inclusion of EDI, this did not bring individuals like herself to the table.
“After speaking with colleagues at Ryerson and across the sector, it became clear to me that such a forum would need to be initiated.”
Dr. Green says having done EDI work for over 25 years, she realized that everyone must be brought together to tackle this protracted problem of diversifying faculty among the CRC and other federally funded research programs.
“And, equity professionals needed to be brought to the table as equal partners,” she underscores.
As a result, a roundtable organized by her office and NSERC on February 23, 2018 at the Chelsea Hotel attracted over 70 participants from across Canada. NSERC is Canada's federal funding agency for university-based research and student training in natural sciences and engineering.
Serge Villemure, NSERC’s director of scholarships, fellowships & chairs for women in science and engineering, says the forum was the very first opportunity that this group could engage in a dialogue with the granting agencies.
“EDI is widely understood as a priority for research therefore being able to exchange on priorities, challenges and the move forward was very important and timely.”
Participants discussed matters such as university and agency systemic tensions, organizational structure and accountability, training, the collection of data, and setting goals.
Dr. Juliet Daniel of the Department of Biology at McMaster University says the meeting was long overdue.
“There were a few catchphrases that I really liked such as ‘inclusive excellence’ and also one of the common themes that came up was this notion of shared responsibility and accountability.”
She says it’s not just the burden of the underrepresented groups to be championing this issue but it’s the shared responsibility of everyone at all of our institutions.
“I think it was awesome that Ryerson took the lead and was courageous enough to do it because it does take a certain level of courage to do something like that,” she says about the forum.