Talent hunt to target minorities

December 8, 2006

A federal chairs programme that helped reverse Canada's brain drain has to change the way it recruits its "world leaders".

The Canada Research Chairs programme, which since its inception in 2000 has helped the country's universities retain and attract hundreds of top-tier researchers, will now have to prove that its search for talent has taken it into areas that have traditionally been underrepresented.

The C$30 million-a-year (£13.7 million) programme has funded close to 1,700 chairs, with two tiers of annual grants of C$200,000 and C$100,000.

But the programme has been criticised for its social makeup. In 2003, a group of eight female professors took the CRC to the Canadian Human Rights Commission after it was discovered that women won only 14 per cent of the first awards.

In 2005, 9 per cent of CRC award winners identified themselves as members of a minority, 1 per cent as disabled and 0.2 per cent as Aboriginal Canadian.

Chair holders will now identify which racial/gender group they are from and universities will have to set "realistic" targets, ensure the recruitment processes are open and transparent, and the CRC will recognise those universities that are achieving these goals.

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