Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"...however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority"

A reader points out the University of Alberta's interesting "Equal Opportunity" statement for its 3 tenure-track positions for assistant/associate professors in chemistry: 
"All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority. If suitable Canadian citizens or permanent residents cannot be found, other individuals will be considered. 
The University of Alberta hires on the basis of merit. We are committed to the principle of equity in employment. We welcome diversity and encourage applications from all qualified women and men, including persons with disabilities, members of visible minorities, and Aboriginal persons."
The reader asks if this is common practice and whether or not this sort of thing happens in industry.

First of all, I suspect that this is an interesting quirk of Canadian employment law (or of Albertan provincial hiring law?) I know that some U.S. government positions, especially in the defense/homeland security space, require U.S. citizenship, but I don't know of any professorships at the state level that have these sorts of statements.

At the same time, I suspect that these statements are rarely actually enforced and there are likely as many U.S. citizens/residents amongst Canadian academia than not. That said, my knowledge of Canadian chemical academia is quite limited and I invite my many Canadian readers to comment. 

12 comments:

  1. It's required by Canadian (federal) law to include such a statement in job advertisements. In my experience (I have served on a few faculty hiring committees at a mid-size Canadian university), it is rarely adhered to in practice. The most qualified applicant gets the offer, regardless of nationality or immigration status. In fact, at most Canadian "R01 equivalent" schools (e.g. UofT, UBC, UofA), it seems that if no Canadian with "big name lab" US grad school/postdoc experience applies, the offer usually goes to an American with those credentials rather than a Canadian applicant with all Canadian training (i.e. the system is biased against home-grown candidates).

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  2. Anonymous @11:54 is exactly correct. We are hiring this year, and we intend to hire the best people. Immigration laws changed slightly this year, which required a tweaking of the language, but this tweaking enables us to continue to hire the top applicants. Hope this helps @Chemjobber.

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  3. Several years ago I applied to a position in Norway. I was informed that my experience was what they were looking for, however, the company would seek to hire Norwegians first. I would be contacted only if there was no Norwegian interested in the job. I never heard from them again...I had never heard that one before, but upon reflection, sometimes I wonder if some loyalty to one's own country scientists is not a terrible thing. If that company found someone with the same set of skills and similar experiences, why not hire one of their own? I am assuming that the statement was made in good faith that I would be called back, after Norwegian candidates had been ruled out...Norway seems to be advancing science just fine. They certainly have their share of immigrants, but perhaps there is a balance that has been found for sensibly hiring for talent focusing on local first, then seeking further afar.

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    1. I agree with you completely. As a US-American, I worked for 6 years at a Swiss university and four years at one in the UK. Also several years as a post-doc in Canada. I don't begrudge any of those countries if they were to preferentially hire one of their own nationals (not to say that I would have been happy for a real, long-term job in any of those places). And actually, by chance or design, their own citizens did, indeed get more of the better positions there.

      After returning to the US, though, I must say that here, pedigree-ism trumps nationality virtually all of the time, even at government laboratories.

      It's just the

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  4. Back in the 1990's, I interviewed for a job at a Canadian university. After the interviews were done, it came down to me (American) and a Canadian applicant. Someone from the committee called to make sure I was serious about the position (I was.) From what I heard through the grapevine, it was a very close decision. I don't know the specifics, but in split decisions it can make a difference.

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  5. This has been quite common for years in the Great White North. This rule is as easily circumvented as the US rule that one can't hire a non-American under an H1b visa is there is a qualified yank.

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    1. There isn't a rule to that effect for H1-Bs. Funny enough, however, there is one for TN visas...the NAFTA work program.

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  6. I'm an undergraduate in chemistry at McGill University in Montreal, and I'm pretty sure more of my professors are American than are Canadian.

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  7. If you look at the hires within the U of A chem department in the past 10 years, you will find more Americans than Canadians

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    1. Regarding the U of A Chem Department, let's not forget that a certain person there (who was recently left) only got his job there because he was married to a Canadian super-star at the time.

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