Equity, diversity and inclusion


NSERC has publicly positioned itself as a promoter of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and an actor in driving cultural change in the natural sciences and engineering (NSE) research ecosystem. From the delivery of funding opportunities such as the Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering program (since 1996), which originated as the Women in Engineering Chair in 1989; the PromoScience program (launched in 2000); and the NSERC Indigenous Student Ambassadors program (launched in 2008), to the hosting of the Gender Summit 11 in 2017, NSERC has long been invested in initiatives that foster EDI in the Canadian research enterprise. While progress has been made, sustained and concerted efforts are needed.

Recent progress

In recent years, NSERC has accelerated its efforts towards addressing barriers and biases to underrepresented groups and towards fostering an equitable, diverse, inclusive and accessible NSE research enterprise in Canada.

In 2018, NSERC reiterated its commitment to EDI via the Tri-Agency Statement on EDI and has since made significant progress on the initiatives listed in the Tri-Agency EDI Action Plan for 2018–2025. Guided by this plan, NSERC:

  • is gathering comprehensive self-identification data to identify EDI-related barriers and inform decision making for funding opportunities, and is working with partners to expand available postsecondary education data sets
  • has embedded EDI considerations into decision-making processes and integrated Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) into the development and monitoring of policies and programs, as well as into program evaluations
  • is ensuring that diverse people are included in peer review/selection committees and in agency-appointed advisory/governance boards, and since 2020, a standing Committee on EDI  has been advising NSERC’s Council and vice-presidents on funding opportunities and policy issues related to EDI
  • is implementing new ways to understand, recognize and assess research excellence in funding opportunities as per the Guidelines on the assessment of contributions to research, training and mentoring, informed by the recommendations set in the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which NSERC endorsed in 2019
  • is providing EDI resources and guidance for staff, peer review/selection committee members and the communities served by NSERC
  • has developed initiatives and policies to promote EDI and to address barriers and biases experienced by underrepresented groups, many of which are highlighted on the Review process, Career interruptions, Grants and awards and Resources pages.

Beyond the goals set out in the Tri-Agency EDI Action Plan for 2018–2025, NSERC also recognizes the need for dedicated efforts to support a more accessible NSE research ecosystem, and as a result, an Accessibility Plan was developed in accordance with the Accessible Canada Act to guide NSERC’s action toward this goal.

Moving forward

NSERC engaged with various stakeholders to develop the NSERC 2030: Discovery, innovation, inclusion strategic plan, which emphasizes the overarching importance of equity, diversity, accessibility and inclusion across all of NSERC’s programs and throughout the research ecosystem, and which will guide NSERC’s actions in the coming years.

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