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University of Ottawa Leadership Remains White and Largely Male

The Academic Women’s Association at the University of Alberta recently published a report titled “U15 Leadership Remains Largely White and Male Despite 33 Years of Equity Initiatives.” The report presents the data from the 2019 Leadership Diversity Gap study led by Dr. Malinda S. Smith and highlights the ongoing challenges as it relates to equitable, diverse, and inclusive representation among leadership at U15 universities. 

The University of Ottawa ranked 13th among U15 universities in terms of diverse representation among Deans. Eighty percent (80%) of Deans at our institution are white male, while twenty percent (20%) are white women. Indeed, there is a complete absence of members of Indigenous Peoples and visible minorities among Deans. In our last round of collective bargaining, the APUO advocated for changes to the collective agreement that would allow us to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion among our membership. The lack of equitable and diverse representation within key leadership positions, such as Deans, presents a barrier to achieving this goal.

The University of Ottawa ranked 11th in terms of diverse representation among “Presidents’ leadership teams or cabinets.”[1] Two thirds (66.7%) of our President’s leadership team is made up of white men, while one third (33.3%) are white women. Once again, the complete absence of members of Indigenous Peoples and visible minorities is striking. 

The APUO must highlight the potential of introducing shared governance as an avenue to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion at the University of Ottawa. While APUO members supported a series of proposals to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion among professors and librarians in our latest round of collective bargaining, this progress is limited by the fact that these goals are not necessarily prioritised nor reflected in the make-up of key decision-makers at our institution. A shared governance model would allow APUO members to push our equity, diversity, and inclusion agenda beyond the bargaining table by having a greater influence in the appointment of our University’s leadership, more opportunities to raise equity, diversity, and inclusion issues, as well as a greater say in the decision-making processes affecting these issues. 

The APUO reasserts its support for the seven recommendations presented in the 2018 Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee (EDIC) report and is prepared to cooperate with the Central Administration on their implementation. 

  1. Collect data and report on progress annually.
  2. Develop equity, diversity, and inclusion targets related to gender, race, disability, and indigeneity and make them public.
  3. Provide bias reducing training to hiring committees.
  4. Appoint trained APUO members to serve as Equity officers on all hiring committees. 
  5. Make funding available for professors to integrate equity content into course content.
  6. Put the University of Ottawa forward as a pilot institution for the “Dimensions Program” formerly known as the “Made in Canada Athena SWAN” (Scientific Women’s Academic Network). 
  7. Incorporate the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, and consult with Indigenous communities for all diversity and equity initiatives at the University.

[1]According to the report, Presidents’ leadership teams or cabinets “are constituted differently at various institutions but generally include all of the vice-presidents, principals, legal counsel, and the like.”