by Kirsty Duncan
Originally published: June 18, 2017
When I was teaching at a university, a fellow faculty member shot a question at me during a staff meeting: When did I plan on getting pregnant? On other occasions, I was asked how I wanted to be treated: as a woman or as a scientist. Later, when I asked a university official why I was being paid in the bottom 10th percentile, I was told it was because I was “a woman.”
I faced many more instances of sexism in my decades as a researcher. Now, as Canada’s Minister of Science, I hear similar stories from women researchers who, in 2017, continue to suffer the same degradations, marginalization and challenges that I did.
As I travel across the country visiting university campuses, women quietly tell me that they struggle with whether to choose an academic career or have a baby. One woman told me about the months she spent wearing a large lab coat to hide her pregnancy for fear of losing her job. These stories add to the evidence that already shows sharp inequities in the culture of research in Canada.