Tuesday, November 14, 2017

On science and diversity

There are many things to celebrate about Canada's commitment to both science and diversity of late. Canada recently appointed a scientist and astronaut, her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, as Governor General of Canada. And Dr Mona Nemer is Canada’s new Chief Science Advisor. Having women in these high profile roles sends an important and positive signal to Canada and the world regarding the value of gender diversity and science-based inquiry.

The importance of gender diversity is highlighted in the Statement by the Prime Minister on Global Entrepreneurship Week. And two articles in yesterday's Globe and Mail support the need to ensure more women are engaged in the technology industries, and that panels at conferences are inclusive.

The Governor General has received a lot of press for her recent remarks on the importance of science and policy, and has been unfairly subject to criticism for talking about the importance of science. One wonders if the editorial comments would have been different had a male delivered these remarks.

And this is an important point to underscore. Prime Minister Trudeau's famous remark "Because it is 2015" stands as a watershed marker in gender parity and diversity for the federal government cabinet. The Canada Research Chair program has specific diversity targets under the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan. It is worth noting that OCAD University is a leader in this area given our focus on diversity and equity as core to our Academic Plan; decolonization and diversity & equity are the first two principles of this plan.

We all have a responsibility to support and promote diversity and inclusion. Advancing this in accordance with a shift toward science-informed policy will help us foster inclusive social and economic development.

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