Jan. 30, 2023

UCalgary recognized for data leadership for equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility

‘We can act on what we can track’ — data is key to evidence-based EDI action
UCalgary EDI Dashboard

UCalgary has been recognized for its approach to data and analytics for equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) by Educause in their 2022 Horizon Report. The recognition is an affirming conclusion to a year that saw tremendous growth in UCalgary’s EDI data efforts.

Educause recognized UCalgary for the EDI Data Hub, a central repository for curating and sharing EDI data in multiple formats and from various sources. It includes institutional EDI data as well as international, national, and local data on population demographics and attainment in post-secondary education. UCalgary’s commitment to data transparency is reflected through infographics and data visualizations, and on an interactive EDI dashboard, that is one of the first of its kind in the Canadian post-secondary sector.

“We are pleased to have been included in Educause’s 2022 Horizon Report,” says Dr. Malinda Smith, vice-provost and associate vice-president research (equity, diversity and inclusion). “We have greatly expanded our data gathering and sharing initiatives at UCalgary, and the EDI Data Hub is the culmination of that ongoing work. To be internationally recognized for these efforts is validating and fuels our pursuit of EDI data leadership.”

Why data matters

High-quality EDI data can track and reveal statistical indicators of systemic inequities, including employment participation rates, unemployment rates, occupational segregation, and income levels. Quantitative EDI data can tell important stories about admissions gaps, funding gaps, attainment gaps, accessibility gaps, as well as help reveal diversity gaps between student body, faculty, staff, and university leadership and the wider population. Disaggregated data can also help UCalgary avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to EDI measures as it tracks and validates when policies and procedures are making a measurable difference for individual equity groups.

“In order to achieve equity, we need data to benchmark, make evidence-based decisions, and monitor their progress. We can act on what we can track — we need data to fulfill our commitment to an equitable and inclusive campus in which all members can flourish,” says Smith.

Get to know the data

Among the wealth of data on the EDI Data Hub is the EDI Dashboard, which is maintained by the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of Institutional Analysis. When you first open the dashboard, it shows data about the whole institution. Users can then tailor the data that they see based on different categories.

“The EDI Dashboard is a powerful tool that upholds our commitment to data transparency,” says Smith. “The ability to drill down into specific data categories allows users to visualize changes over time and helps them to identify inequities, or validate or disprove their assumptions.”

The UCalgary EDI Dashboard includes self-identification data provided by employees and students. Some of this data comes via the newly expanded employee and student equity censuses, both launched in 2021.

Equity censuses gather quantitative EDI data that provide an annual snapshot of current demographic diversity, whereas qualitative EDI data help us better understand the lived experiences including experiences of campus culture and climate. Censuses cover several dimensions of self-identification, including sex, gender identity and gender expression, sexual orientation, Indigenous peoples, visible/racialized persons, disabilities (visible and invisible), religious affiliation and belief systems, language, as well as a few questions to assess student financial needs and supports. 

UCalgary staff and students can update their answers to the equity census at any time via the My UCalgary portal.

“Launching the expanded equity censuses was an important step to modernize our data collection efforts with disaggregated data that also enabled opportunities for intersectional analysis. It’s helping us establish a baseline to ensure our campus community represents the diverse society we live in,” says Smith.

It gives us important data about ourselves and both who is and especially who isn’t adequately represented, so that we can begin to identify the barriers to full participation on our campus.

In 2021, UCalgary also conducted a COVID-19 EDI survey to understand how the pandemic uniquely affected diverse members of the campus community. The survey, led by Smith, provided valuable information on members of equity-deserving groups and how the pandemic similarly and differentially impacted members in each group in specific areas such as income, resources, supports and discrimination. 

How we’re using the data

The institutional data shared in the UCalgary EDI data dashboard and infographics on the EDI Data Hub is already making an impact. It was key to UCalgary’s Dimensions EDI pilot, which required the institution to provide a comprehensive quantitative analysis of the demographic diversity of the campus community.

It is also foundational to the Inclusive Excellence Cluster Hiring Initiative, which will see UCalgary recruit 45 highly qualified professors from equity-deserving groups to all 12 faculties over the next three years. The evidence-based initiative is among the first in Canada to include persons with disabilities within a cluster hire.

“Although the national benchmarking data we include show members of equity deserving groups have among the highest levels of educational attainment in Alberta and across Canada, our campus census data shows that, with few notable exceptions, equity-deserving groups are significantly under-represented in our professoriate,” says Smith.

“Without this data, we would not be able to so declaratively and effectively pursue the creation of equitable pathways to success.” Details on the data behind the Inclusive Excellence Cluster Hiring Initiative are posted on the OEDI website.

Disaggregated data collection and analysis are also key to the newly launched UCalgary Presidential Task Force on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility (PTF-EDIA). The PTF-EDIA will engage with UCalgary communities, conduct research and analyze data to co-constitute an inspiring, strong, evidence-based EDIA strategy, action and implementation plan, and the necessary systems and processes for monitoring progress, impact and reporting.

“One of the first questions the PTF-EDIA will ask is, ‘Where are we?’, and take stock of our current institutional landscape. Quantitative and qualitative data will be central to how we answer that question,” says Smith, “Such data along with consultations with our community will help us chart a future-focused vision of where we would like to be.” Visit the PTF-EDIA web page for more information on the task force and how to get involved.

Still looking for more?

For those who want to dig further into EDI data and learn from international leaders, including about EDI data in the research ecosystem, the digital archive of proceedings from the 2022 NextGen EDI Data Symposium are now online.  

The inaugural symposium, the first of its kind in Canada, was hosted by Smith, and featured internationally renowned speakers from post-secondary, government, and private sector institutions, and covered topics including EDI data strategy, measurement standards, and building a data collection culture.

“The collection and analysis of good EDI data is a critical tool in our research-informed and evidence-based approach to EDI,” says Smith. “Our hope is that through high-caliber open access resources like the EDI Data Hub and events like the NextGen EDI Data Symposium, we will increase EDI data literacy at UCalgary and elsewhere and engage more of the campus community in these conversations about how to advance and embed EDI.”