Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA)

Although women constitute 50% of the population, there is still a lack of female representation in science, engineering, trades and technology. These fields have historically had a hard time attracting, recruiting and retaining women, and this underrepresentation has contributed to research with women (such as research on women’s heart health, for example) being decades behind.

The UNESCO Chair on Community Sustainability: From Local to Global strongly believes that research, outreach, education and awareness on the discrimination and barriers that females face in the sciences (and their continued underrepresentation in STEM-fields) must continue.

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Accessibility (IDEA):
Good Practices for Researchers

A toolkit & Reflection paper by Jocelyn Baker and Liette Vasseur

A holistic approach to inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility in research teams, activities or even in the classroom is crucial. This toolkit and reflection paper give principal investigators some practical ways to achieve an inclusive culture, free of racism and discrimination.

Read the Toolkit
Read the Reflection Paper

The Non-Linear Paths of Women in STEM:
The Barriers in the Current System of Professional Training

Read the Canadian Commission for UNESCO research report.
Read the Brock News story

Mature female students pursuing Canadian university degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects face discrimination and other barriers, says a Canadian Commission for UNESCO research report, titled: The Non-Linear Paths of Women in STEM: The Barriers in the Current System of Professional Training.

The report was authored by UNESCO Chair on Community Sustainability: From Local to Global Liette Vasseur, who presented it in a keynote address in Ottawa. A panel discussion was held on equity and inclusion in post-secondary STEM learning that included Canada’s Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer following the keynote.

The report identifies six reasons why people don’t pursue a ‘linear’ university educational path, which typically moves from undergraduate to master’s to PhD with no or little break:

  • New career options
  • Need for more credentials
  • Delay due to family reasons
  • Need for family support
  • Career prospect improvement
  • Self-interest

The report also makes number of recommendations, including:

  • Improve information for mature students, especially on things like specific awards
  • Take work experience more into account for mature student admissions
  • Offer more online options, especially for early morning or evening classes
  • Train professors and admissions staff on unconscious bias
  • Remove age limits for scholarships and student employment programs


Prizes & Awards: closing the gender gap to ensure an equitable future for all academic talent is a report authored by Vasseur and Jocelyn Baker, Research Assistant with Brock’s UNESCO Chair.

Available in English and in French, the report highlights how women scholars statistically win fewer prizes than men, receive less financial compensation, and are denied the same access to the accolades and distinguishing benefits that awards bring.

The paper reviewed 11 prestigious Canadian and global academic prizes and awards to highlight the barriers to awards that exist for women in STEM and then offer key considerations and good practices that can be implemented for calls for nominations and selection committees. The overarching goal is to ensure that future top prize winners are of the most deserving talent, regardless of gender.


On Wednesday, June 23 at 3 p.m., an online panel took place to discuss this report. It featured Liette Vasseur, Professor in Biological Sciences and UNESCO Chair on Community Sustainability: From Local to Global, as well as a panel of experts from universities across Canada.

Deb Saucier, President and Vice-Chancellor of Vancouver Island University, moderated the discussion, which also featured Nicole Fenton, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue; Jeremy Kerr, University of Ottawa; Juliet Daniel, McMaster University; and Shohini Ghose, Wilfrid Laurier University.

Bursting the Academic Bubble: Embracing Diverse Post-Graduate Career Paths

Read the Science & Policy Exchange report
Watch the video

Even though most postgraduate students find employment outside academia, many continue to struggle to transition into non-academic career paths. What challenges do they face? What opportunities and resources are available to them? How can we develop better policies to ensure their professional success beyond the academic bubble?

With the support of CCUNESCO and building upon a recent report by the Council of Canadian Academies regarding labour market transitions for PhDs, the Science & Policy Exchange hosted a virtual panel discussion on February 18, 2021 to discuss better policies and programs to help transition postgraduate students towards a broader range of fulfilling non-academic career paths. The Chair served as a panelist.

In celebration of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the Chair and Mariana Garrido created posters that highlight women in graduate science programs as a means to inspire other women. Having role models in your chosen discipline has been shown to be an effective way of empowering and encouraging women to pursue further studies. This is a step to continue to target the UN Sustainable Development Goal #5 of Gender Equality, as it is known that countries advance towards sustainable development faster and better when women are educated. This ultimately leads everyone to live better lives.