The Matthew Effects of the Canada Research Chairs Program: Do Women Enjoy the Same Benefits As Men?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 7:50 PM
Room: 302
Oral Presentation
Karen GRANT , Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB, Canada
Janice DRAKICH , University of Windsor, Windsor, ON, Canada
In a classic 1968 paper Merton described the "Matthew Effect" as the tendency among elite scientists to accumulate advantage. Alongside Merton’s analyses, Zuckerman and Cole (1975) documented the experiences of women scientists and found women’s productivity was routinely eclipsed by men’s. This, they argued, accounted for the propensity for men to reap disproportionate rewards over their careers. In the years since, the gendered nature of academic work has been the focus of significant attention around the world. Recently, the Council of the Canadian Academies’ Expert Panel on Women in University Research (2012) found that women continue to face obstacles in their appointment to faculty positions and their progress through the ranks. Structural and individual discrimination continue to have adverse effects on women academics.

In 2000, the Canada Research Chairs program was established to attract and retain research leaders across all disciplines. Initially, most chairs were awarded to men. More than a decade after the program was established, only 26.2% of CRCs are held by women. In this paper, we are interested in the way in which the Matthew Effect plays out for women and men CRCs. We have previously argued that on many dimensions of professional achievement, status, and rewards, women and men CRCs enjoy similar experiences (Grant and Drakich, 2011). Yet, critical differences do exist and these centre around the gendered nature of academic work and workplaces. In this paper, we focus on measures of research productivity (specifically, research grants and publications), career advancement, and awards and honours. As well, we examine how the dynamics of accumulated advantage vary by discipline. Findings based on 60 qualitative interviews show that men are more likely to enjoy greater benefits. We explore the reasons for the enduring pattern of inequitable distribution of rewards amongst women and men.