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Study: Women in Canada: Visible minority women

Released: 2016-03-03

Visible minority women were more likely than women who were not a visible minority to have a university degree in 2011.

In fact, about 50% of visible minority women aged 25 to 54 who were second generation—those born in Canada, but with at least one parent born elsewhere—had a university degree. These women were also more likely to have a university degree than same-aged visible minority women of other generations and same-aged men, regardless of visible minority or generation status.

Visible minority women also made up a relatively large share of women who studied in fields less often chosen by women. As well, this group was more likely than other women to work in occupations less frequently held by women.

These findings are taken from "Visible Minority Women," the latest chapter of Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report, released today. In this chapter, the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of visible minority women and girls are explored. Where relevant and feasible, analyses compared both the total visible minority population and specific visible minority groups with the population not belonging to a visible minority group.

The visible minority population is young and growing

Over the last 30 years, the proportion of visible minority women and girls in the total female population of Canada has more than quadrupled, from 4.7% in 1981 to 19.3% in 2011. In 2011, there were about 3.2 million visible minority women and girls in Canada.

These women and girls were younger, on average, compared with women and girls who were not a visible minority. In 2011, the median age of visible minority females was 34, compared with 43 for the rest of the female population.

About half of second-generation visible minority women aged 25 to 54 have a university degree

In 2011, 39.7% of visible minority women aged 25 to 54 held a university degree, compared with 27.1% of same-aged women who were not a visible minority. About half (50.6%) of second-generation visible minority women in this age group had a university degree, a larger proportion than that observed among same-aged visible minority women of the first generation (38.5%) and third generation or more (29.6%). Second-generation visible minority women aged 25 to 54 were also more likely than same-aged visible minority men (41.0%) and men who were not a visible minority (21.4%) to have a university degree.

Visible minority women make up a relatively large share of women who studied in fields less often chosen by women

The top three fields of study for women aged 15 and older with a postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree were the same for visible minority women and women who were not a visible minority. These fields of study were business, management and public administration, health and related fields, and social and behavioural sciences and law.

Visible minority women were more likely than the rest of the female population to report having earned a postsecondary credential in a scientific or technical field, despite these being less commonly reported fields of study for women in general. In all, visible minority women accounted for 19.6% of all women with a postsecondary credential. However, they comprised 31.9% of women who studied in physical and life sciences and technologies, 31.9% of women with postsecondary credentials in mathematics, and computer and information sciences, and 31.1% of women with postsecondary credentials in architecture, engineering and related technologies.

Visible minority women are more likely than other women to work in occupations less frequently held by women

Regardless of visible minority status, over three-quarters of employed women aged 25 to 54 worked in one of the four following occupational groups: sales and service; business, finance and administration; education, law and social, community and government services; and health. However, some differences were observed in the less frequently reported occupations. Visible minority women were more likely than women who were not a visible minority to be employed in manufacturing and utilities (6.0% versus 2.3%), as well as in natural and applied sciences (5.3% versus 3.6%).

  Note to readers

The term "visible minority" refers to whether a person belongs to a visible minority group as defined by the Employment Equity Act and, if so, the visible minority group to which the person belongs. The Employment Equity Act defines visible minorities as "persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour." The visible minority population consists mainly of the following groups: Chinese, South Asian, Black, Arab, West Asian, Filipino, Southeast Asian, Latin American, Japanese and Korean.

The term "university degree" refers to the category "university certificate, diploma or degree at the bachelor level or above," which includes bachelor's degrees, university certificates or diplomas above the bachelor level, degrees in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine or optometry, master's degrees and earned doctorates.

The term "generation status" refers to whether or not the person or the person's parents were born in Canada. It identifies people as being first generation, second generation or third generation or more.

  • The "first generation" includes people who were born outside Canada. For the most part, these are people who are now, or have ever been, immigrants to Canada.
  • The "second generation" includes people who were born in Canada and had at least one parent born outside Canada. For the most part, these are the children of immigrants.
  • The "third generation or more" includes people who were born in Canada with both parents born in Canada.

The term "median age" refers to the age at which one-half of the population is older, and the other half is younger.

Products

This release is based on the chapter "Visible Minority Women" in Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report, seventh edition (Catalogue number89-503-X), which is now available from the Browse by key resource module of our website, under Publications.

The publication Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report is a collaborative effort of Status of Women Canada and Statistics Canada.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).

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