Visible Minority Women

by Tina Chui and Hélène Maheux

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Introduction
The visible minority population is growing
A diverse population
One in three visible minority women are born in Canada
Generational status reflects immigration history
Visible minority immigrant women come from many countries
Most live in large population centres
A relatively young population
Family status varies by visible minority group
Most could converse in an official language
A well-educated population
Percentage of university degree holders varies by visible minority group
Over three-quarters of young visible minority women attend school
The majority of visible minority women are employed
Employment rates differ by visible minority group
Higher unemployment rate
Part-time work
Over one-half employed in traditional female occupations
Lower employment income
Higher incidence of low income
Earnings gap disappears among the second and third generation or more
Perceived experience of discrimination
Definitions

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Introduction

This chapter examines the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of visible minority women in Canada.

The visible minority population in Canada comprises many groups, each with its own history of immigration to Canada. Some are relatively new to the country; others have lived here for many generations. The analysis will address this population's diversity by evaluating the differences between the visible minority groups, as well as between those who came to Canada as immigrants and those who were born in Canada. The visible minority population has a somewhat different age structure than the non-visible minority population. To address this aspect, some of the analysis—especially with respect to labour market experience—will also evaluate differences between specific age groups.

"Visible minority" is a uniquely Canadian way to define a population for the purposes of employment equity. The visible minority population is one of the four designated groups identified under the Employment Equity Act. The goal of the act is to achieve workplace equality and to correct representation in the workplace for the four designated groups: women, visible minorities, Aboriginal peoples and people with disabilities.

The Employment Equity Act defines visible minorities as "persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour." Using this definition, regulations specify the following groups within the visible minority population: South Asian, Chinese, Black, Arab, West Asian, Filipino, Southeast Asian, Latin American, Japanese and Korean.

The visible minority population is growing

In 2006, about 5.1 million individuals reported being members of the visible minority population: 51%, or 2.6 million, were women. Visible minority women made up 16.4% of the total female population (Chart 1). Canada's visible minority population has grown steadily between 1981 and 2006, in large part due to increasing immigration from countries other than Europe. In 1981, when data for the visible minority population was first derived, about 567,500 women in Canada were members of the visible minority population, comprising 4.7% of the total female population. In 1991, the number of visible minority women doubled to about 1.3 million and, in 2001, further increased to just over 2.0 million, or 13.5% of the female population.

The visible minority population grew at a much faster pace than the total population. From 2001 to 2006, the growth rate of visible minority women was 28%, five times faster than the 5.6% increase for the total female population in Canada and 13 times faster than the 2.1% increase among women who were not members of a visible minority.

Chart 1 Proportion of visible minority women, Canada, 1981 to 2031

A key factor in the growth of the visible minority population has been the rising number of recent immigrants from non-European countries.

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Changing immigration patterns

Some immigrants have resided in Canada for a number of years, while others have arrived recently. Recent immigrants are defined as landed immigrants who came to Canada up to five years prior to a given census year. In 1981, 69% of all recent immigrant women in Canada were born in non-European countries. In 1991, this number had grown to 77% and by 2006, it had reached 84%.

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As a result of these changing immigration patterns, the proportion of recent immigrants who belong to a visible minority group increased. In 1981, 55% of recent immigrant women belonged to a visible minority group; in 1991, the proportion was 71% and by 2001, it reached 73%. This share continues to increase: in 2006, 76% of recent immigrant women were members of the visible minority population.

If current immigration patterns continue, Canada's female population who are members of visible minorities could reach 6.6 million or roughly 31% of the total female population by 2031, according to Statistics Canada's population projections.1

A diverse population

Among the many groups that make up the visible minority population, the three largest are Chinese, South Asian (e.g. East Indian, Pakistani and Sri Lankan) and Black. Sixty-four percent of visible minority women belonged to one of these groups in 2006.

Overall, South Asian was the largest visible minority group: about 1,262,900 women and men identified themselves as South Asian (Table 1). In 2006, South Asian surpassed Chinese (1,216,600 individuals) to become the largest visible minority group. Chinese had previously been the largest at the time of the 2001 Census. However, Chinese women were still the largest group of visible minority women in 2006. They made up a slightly larger proportion of visible minority women (24.3%), compared with South Asian women (24.0%). Black was the third-largest visible minority group for women in 2006, making up 15.7%.

Other groups include Filipinos, who represented 9.0% of the female visible minority population in 2006, Latin Americans (6.0%), Southeast Asians (4.7%), Arabs (4.7%), West Asians (2.9%), Koreans (2.8%) and Japanese (1.7%).

A small percentage (4.0%) of visible minority women reported belonging to more than one visible minority group or to other visible minorities such as Pacific Islanders.

Table 1 Visible minority groups, Canada, 2006

Between 2001 and 2006, West Asian women had the largest growth among visible minority women, an increase of 48%, from about 51,000 to 76,000. Latin American (from about 11,000 to 156,000) and Korean (from about 52,000 to 43,000) women's population each grew 41% over the same period (Chart 2).

Chart 2 Number of women by visible minority group, Canada, 2001 and 2006

One in three visible minority women are born in Canada

The majority (68%) of visible minority women were immigrants in 2006, and about 29% were born in Canada.

The proportion of Canadian-born among the visible minority population varied, subject to each group's immigration patterns and fertility rates. Generally, groups that have long histories in Canada and relatively little recent immigration have higher proportions of Canadian-born. For example, the Japanese and Black have long immigration histories and relatively little recent immigration. Consequently, they had the largest proportion of Canadian-born, 56% and 43%, respectively (Chart 3).

Although the South Asian and Chinese groups also have a relatively long history in Canada, they continue to immigrate to Canada in significant numbers. In 2006, 29% of South Asian women and 24% of Chinese women were born in Canada.

At 29% each, the percentage of Canadian-born among Southeast Asian and Arab women was the same as for all visible minority women in Canada. Among other visible minority groups, the percentages of Canadian-born women were 22% of Filipinas, 21% of Latin Americans, 15% of West Asians and 14% of Koreans.

Non-permanent residents (see definition at the end of the chapter) made up a small proportion (3%) of visible minority women who lived in Canada on Census Day 2006.

Chart 3 Female visible minority groups, by immigrant status and period of immigration, Canada, 2006

Generational status reflects immigration history

The generational status of the various visible minority groups further reflected their history of immigration to Canada.

Of Canada's total female population aged 15 and older, 24% were considered "first generation" (that is, born outside Canada). Another 16% were "second generation" (born in Canada with at least one parent born outside Canada) and 60% were "third generation or more" (born in Canada with both parents born in Canada).

A majority of the visible minority population is first generation in Canada since the majority of them are immigrants. In 2006, 84% of visible minority women aged 15 and over were considered first generation (Chart 4); 13% were second generation and only 2% were third generation or more.

Although Chinese and South Asians have a relatively long history in Canada, continual immigration led to a large proportion of their women having first-generation status (86% for both groups) and a small proportion having third-generation status or more (2% and 1% respectively).

Some of the Black visible minority group have ancestors who migrated to Canada a few hundred years ago; others arrived in recent decades. In 2006, 8% of women who belonged to the Black visible minority group were third-generation or more.

The Japanese visible minority group had the largest proportion (25%) of women who were third-generation or more in 2006.

Chart 4 Generational status of women aged 15 and over, by visible minority group, Canada, 2006

Visible minority immigrant women come from many countries

Visible minority immigrant women come from all over the world. In 2006, a majority of South Asian immigrant women came from countries of the Indian subcontinent such as India (49%), Pakistan (14%), Sri Lanka (12%), and Bangladesh (3%). Other South Asian women came from Guyana (5%), Trinidad and Tobago (3%), Fiji (3%) Tanzania (2%), Kenya (2%) and the United Kingdom (2%).

The Black visible minority population was particularly diverse. Black immigrant women reported more than 150 source countries of birth. These countries included Jamaica (28%), Haiti (15%), Trinidad and Tobago (5%), Somalia (5%), Ethiopia (4%), Ghana (4%), Guyana (4%), Nigeria (3%), Barbados (3%) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (3%).

Most Chinese immigrant women reported the People's Republic of China (54%) and Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region (24%) as their place of birth. Taiwan (7%) and Vietnam (6%) were the third and fourth most common places of birth among Chinese immigrant women. Another 2% of them immigrated from Malaysia and 1% from Singapore.

The top places of birth for West Asian immigrant women were Iran (58%) and Afghanistan (24%). For Arab immigrant women, the top places were Lebanon (25%) and Egypt (13%).

El Salvador (18%), Colombia (15%) and Mexico (11%) were the three leading source countries among Latin American immigrant women.

Most live in large population centres

In 2006, 96% of visible minority women lived in only four provinces: Ontario, with a 54% share of visible minority women, British Columbia with20%, Quebec with 13% and Alberta with 9% (Table 2). The remaining 4% of visible minority women lived in the other provinces and territories. In comparison, 84% of women who were not a visible minority lived in these provinces.

Over one-half of Canada's visible minority women resided in Ontario and one in five lived in British Columbia. Therefore, visible minority women made up a high percentage of the female population in these two provinces—23% in Ontario and 25% in British Columbia, well ahead of the other provinces. In Quebec, visible minority women accounted for 9% of the female population; in Alberta, about 14%.

Table 2 Distribution of female visible minority population, Canada, 2006

In 2006, 96% of visible minority women lived in one of the 33 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) in Canada, compared with 63% of non-visible minority women.

The census metropolitan area of Toronto was home to the largest share of Canada's female visible minority population, with 43% of the total female visible minority population in 2006 (Table 3).

Within the census metropolitan area of Toronto, certain municipalities were more likely to have visible minorities. For example, 54% of visible minority women in the CMA of Toronto lived in the municipality of Toronto in 2006; 15% lived in Mississauga and 11% in Brampton.

The Vancouver CMA had the second-largest proportion of visible minority women—18% of the total female visible minority population. Like the Toronto CMA, certain municipalities in Vancouver also had higher shares of visible minority women in 2006: Vancouver (34%), Surrey (20%), Richmond (13%) and Burnaby (13%).

In fact, in both the Toronto and Vancouver CMAs, the ratio of visible minority women to the total female population was 2.6.

The Montréal CMA had the third-largest share of the female visible minority population. In 2006, about 12% of Canada's female visible minority population resided in the Montréal CMA. The city of Montréal topped all municipalities with 70% of all visible minority women in its CMA. Laval followed with 8.7%.

The two CMAs in Alberta—Calgary and Edmonton—were home to 4.6% and 3.4% of Canada's visible minority women, accounting for 22% and 17% of Calgary and Edmonton's female populations.

While only 0.7% of all Canada's visible minority women lived in the CMA of Abbotsford in 2006, these women made up over one-fifth of the CMA's female population.

Table 3 Distribution of total female population, total female immigrant population, recent immigrant women, and visible minority women, by census metropolitan area, Canada, 2006

A relatively young population

The female visible minority population in Canada is generally younger than the overall female population and the overall non-visible minority female population. In 2006, 22% of visible minority women were under 15 years of age, compared with 17% of the overall female population and 16% of the non-visible minority female population. Women of core working age (25 to 54) comprised 48% of visible minority women, compared with 44% of the total female population and 43% of the non-visible minority female population.

At the other end of the age spectrum, 8% of visible minority women were 65 and over, compared with 14% of the total female population and 16% of the non-visible minority female population.

The young age structure of the visible minority female population is also reflected in its median age. Because a large portion of visible minority women are immigrants, their significantly younger age structure brings down the median age of all visible minority women. The median age of visible minority women was 33.3 years in 2006. The median age for the total female population was 40.0 years and 41.5 years for non-visible minority women (Table 4).

Certain groups had an even younger population than the overall visible minority population. For example, 28% of Arab women and 27% of Black women were under the age of 15. The median ages of Arab women was 28.3 years; of Black women, 29.6.

Although their median ages were lower than that of the overall female population, Chinese, Filipinas and Japanese women had a higher median age than the other groups in the female visible minority population: 37.8 years for Chinese women, 37.3 for Filipinas and 36.7 for Japanese women.

The younger age structure among the female visible minority population was due to the immigration of younger individuals who were also in their child-bearing years. Most individuals immigrated when they were relatively young: they were at the stage of their lives when they would have young children. The children of visible minority women might also identify themselves as members of a visible minority. As a result, the overall visible minority population had a young age structure.

In 2006, the median age of recent immigrant women for visible minority (31.0 years) and non-visible minority groups (31.2 years) was about the same.

The median age for Canadian-born women who were not members of a visible minority was 39.5 years. In contrast, the median age for Canadian-born visible minority women was 12.8 years likely due to the Canadian-born children of visible minority parents who immigrated to Canada in recent decades. Canadian-born Japanese women, with a median age of 34.7 years, were the only group with a similar median age to that of Canadian-born non-visible minority women.

Table 4 Age groups of the female population, by visible minority group, Canada, 2006

Family status varies by visible minority group

In 2006, visible minority women aged 15 and over lived most often with members of their family (90%); this proportion was 81% among non-visible minority women (Table 5). Just 4% of visible minority women lived with non-relatives and 6% lived alone. Visible minority women were less likely to live alone than non-visible minority women: 15% of non-visible minority women lived alone in 2006.

South Asian (95%), West Asian (93%) and Arab (93%) women were the most likely among all visible minority groups to live with their family. On the other hand, Japanese women had the lowest percentage (77%) that lived with their family. In fact, the proportion of Japanese women living alone was the same as that of non-visible minority women, 15%.

In 2006, 51% of visible minority women aged 15 and over lived with their spouse, compared with 46% of women who were non visible minority. South Asian (62%) and Arab (60%) women were the most likely to live with their spouse; Black (29%) and Latin American women (46%) were the least likely.

Visible minority women (4%) were considerably less likely to live in a common-law relationship than women who were not in a visible minority (12%). Latin American women had the largest proportion of women in a common-law relationship (8%); South Asian women had the smallest (1%).

Visible minority women were more likely to be lone parents than visible minority men. In 2006, 10% of visible minority women aged 15 and over were lone parents, compared to 2% of visible minority men. A higher proportion of women than men were lone-parents, regardless of visible minority status. For non-visible minorities, 8% of women were lone-parents compared to 2% of men.

Black visible minority women had the largest share of lone parents among the various groups (24%), followed by Latin American women (14%), Southeast Asian women (12%) and West Asian women (10%).

Table 5 Family status of population aged 15 and over, by visible minority group, Canada, 2006

The living arrangements of senior women differ considerably by visible minority status. Visible minority women aged 65 and over were more likely to live with family members, including extended family, and less likely to live alone than senior women who were not a member of a visible minority. In 2006, 81% of visible minority women aged 65 and over lived with their family and 17% lived alone (Chart 5). In comparison, nearly 60% of non-visible minority senior women who lived with their family and 39% lived alone.

Chart 5 Senior women aged 65 and over living alone, by visible minority group, Canada, 2006

Most could converse in an official language

Two thirds (66%) of visible minority women reported a mother tongue other than English or French. Of these women, 80% were immigrants; the remaining 20% were visible minority women born in Canada.

Among all visible minority women, West Asian women were the most likely to report a non-English or non-French mother tongue (90%); Japanese women (54%) were the least likely. The difference between these two groups was likely because of the relatively small percentage of Canadian-born West Asian women (15%) compared with Japanese women (55%).

The vast majority (91%) of visible minority women reported that they could speak at least one of Canada's official languages (Table 6). The linguistic profile of visible minority women was very similar to that of immigrant women. Among visible minority women who had recently immigrated, 88% said they could converse in at least one official language.

The proportion of visible minority women who could converse in at least one official language was even higher among those of core working age (25 to 54). Most visible minority women (94%) in this age group said they could carry a conversation in at least one official language. Conversely, 6% of the visible minority women in the same age group could not speak English or French.

Older visible minority women were more likely to report not being able to speak English or French – as did 40% of visible minority women aged 65 and over in 2006. Among this group, 61 % of those who arrived in Canada after 2001 were unable to speak English or French.

Table 6 Knowledge of official languages, by visible minority group, Canada, 2006

A well-educated population

Canada's visible minority women were relatively well educated. In 2006, 26% of visible minority women aged 15 and over had a university degree (Table 7). The proportion was even higher (35%) among visible minority women aged 25 to 54. In comparison, 23% of non-visible minority women of core working age held a university degree.

Table 7 Educational attainment of population aged 15 and over, by visible minority group, Canada, 2006

Visible minority women who were born in Canada were more likely to have a higher education than non-visible minority women. For example, in 2006, 43% of visible minority women of core working age who were born in Canada reported having a university degree, compared to 22% of their non-visible minority counterparts (Chart 6).

Immigrant women in general had high educational attainment, regardless of visible minority status. In 2006, 33% of visible minority immigrant women and 32% of their non-visible minority counterparts held a university degree.

Chart 6 Women aged 25 to 54 with university degree, by immigrant status, Canada, 2006

Percentage of university degree holders varies by visible minority group

Among visible minority women, Korean women were the most likely to have a university education—54% of Korean women aged 25 to 54 had a university degree in 2006 (Chart 7). Filipinas and Japanese women had the next highest rate of university education (42%), followed by Chinese women (41%).

At the other end of the range, 19% of Southeast Asian women and 20% of Black women held university degrees, making them fall below the average 25% rate for the total female population aged 25 to 54.

Chart 7 Population aged 25 to 54 with university degree, by visible minority group, Canada, 2006

In 2006, 30% of Southeast Asian women reported having no educational certificate, diploma or degree. Another 26% said that they had a secondary school or equivalent certificate.

Black women aged 25 to 54 were the most likely (27%) to report some form of non-university postsecondary qualifications, such as a college certificate or diploma, and 21% reported that they were high school graduates.

In 2006, 28% of visible minority women aged 15 and over with postsecondary training reported that they had studied in business, management and public administration (Table 8). This was also the most popular field of study for non-visible minority women (27%). The second-ranking field was health, parks, recreation and fitness, for both visible minority women (19%) and non-visible minority women (22%). Another 13% of visible minority women and 12% of non-visible minority women reported that they had studied in social and behavioural sciences and law. Together, these were the top three major fields of study among both visible and non-visible minority women in 2006, accounting for about 60% of women aged 15 and over with a postsecondary training.

Table 8 Visible minority and non-visible minority women and men aged 15 and over with postsecondary education, by major field of study, Canada, 2006

While technical or scientific fields were not among the top fields of study for women, visible minority women were more likely to have studied in them. In 2006, visible minority women made up 29% of women studying in physical and life sciences and technologies, 29% in architecture, engineering and related technologies and 28% in mathematics, computer and information sciences (Chart 8). In comparison, visible minority women made up 17% of all women with postsecondary training.

Chart 8 Visible minority women with postsecondary education in various fields of study, Canada, 2006

Women in the four largest visible minority groups were most likely to have studied business, management and public administration or fields related to health, parks, recreation and fitness. The top field for Chinese (33%) and South Asian (25%) women was business, management and public administration while among Black (28%) and Filipino (32%) women; it was health, parks, recreation and fitness (Table 9).

Table 9 Top five major fields of study of the four largest visible minority women groups aged 15 years and over with postsecondary education, Canada, 2006

The educational profile of visible minority women differed from that of their male counterparts. A higher proportion of visible minority men than women studied in scientific and technical areas. In 2006, 37% of visible minority men reported that they had studied in architecture, engineering and related technologies and 10% in mathematics, computer and information sciences. In comparison, 12% of visible minority women had studied in these two fields combined (Table 8).

Over three-quarters of young visible minority women attend school

A relatively high proportion of young visible minority women attended school. From September 2005 to May 2006, 77% of visible minority women aged 15 to 24 reported that they attended school either part-time or full-time (Chart 9).

This rate of school attendance of young visible minority women was higher than either their non-visible minority counterparts (67%) or young visible minority men (75%).

Korean and Chinese women were the most likely to go to school among all the visible minority groups. In 2006, 85% of Korean and 84% of Chinese women aged 15 to 24 went to school from September 2005 to May 2006. Among Southeast Asian women, 71% attended school; 78% of West Asian women did.

Chart 9 Women aged 15 to 24 attending school part-time or full-time, by visible minority group, Canada, 2006

The majority of visible minority women are employed

In general, visible minority women had a slightly lower employment rate than non-visible minority women. On Census day in 2006, 56.2% of visible minority women aged 15 and over reported being part of the paid workforce in 2005, compared with 57.8% of their non-visible minority counterparts (Table 10).

The 68.6% employment rate for visible minority women of core working age (25 to 54) was higher than the overall rate for visible minority women of all ages. But it was almost 10 percentage points lower than for their non-visible minority counterparts (78.0%). While for non-immigrant women, the employement rate was slightly higher for visible minority women (79.7%) compared to non-visible minority women (78.4%).

The employment rates for women and men followed the same pattern in both the visible minority and non-visible minority groups: women were less likely to be employed than men. The employment gap between visible minority women (68.6%) and men (83.0%) of core working age was 14.4 percentage points.

When immigrant status was taken into account, Canadian-born visible minority women were more likely to be employed than their immigrant counterparts. Canadian-born visible minority women of core working age had an employment rate of 79.7%. This rate is 11.8 percentage points higher than that for immigrant visible minority women of the same age (67.9%), and slightly higher than the 78.4% of Canadian-born women who were not part of a visible minority (Table 10).

Among Canadian-born women with a university education in 2006, visible minority women had a slightly lower employment rate (84.9%) than their non-visible minority counterparts (86.8%).

Table 10 Employment rate of visible and non-visible minority populations, by immigrant status, Canada, 2006

Employment rates differ by visible minority group

Among all the visible minority groups, Filipinas were the most likely to be employed. Also, Filipinas aged 25 to 54 were more likely to be employed (83.0%), than non-visible minority women (78.0%) (Chart 10).

Arab, Korean and West Asian women had the lowest employment rates among the visible minority groups. In 2006, the employment gap between Arab women and non-visible minority women of core working age was 27.3 percentage points. For Korean women, the difference with non-visible minority women was 23.5 points; for West Asian women, it was 21.7.

Chart 10 Employment rate of women aged 25 to 54, by visible minority group, Canada, 2006

Higher unemployment rate

Visible minority women were generally more susceptible to unemployment. In the week prior to the 2006 Census, 8.4% of the visible minority women aged 25 to 54 were in the labour force but unemployed compared with 5.0% of non-visible minority women.

Furthermore, the unemployment rate of visible minority women (8.4%) was higher than that of visible minority men (6.2%). In fact, there was a bigger gender gap in unemployment between visible minority women and men, 2.2 percentage points, than between non-visible minority women and men, 0.1 percentage point.

Young visible minority women, like their non-visible minority counterparts, were more likely to be unemployed than those in older age categories. In 2006, 15.0% of visible minority women aged 15 to 24 were out of work, compared with 8.4% of visible minority women aged 25 to 54 and 7.1% of visible minority women aged 55 to 64. However, young visible minority women had a slightly lower unemployment rate than young visible minority men, whose rate was 16.4%.

Unemployment rates also varied from one visible minority group to another. In 2006, Arab (14.8%), West Asian (11.9%) and Latin American (10.0%) women had the highest unemployment rates in the core-working age group (Chart 11). Filipinas had the lowest unemployment rate (4.3%).

Chart 11 Unemployment rate of women aged 25 to 54, by visible minority group, Canada, 2006

Part-time work

Women in Canada who were in the workforce in 2005 were more likely than men to work on a part-time or part-year basis, regardless of their visible minority status. During that year, 56% of visible minority women reported that they worked either part-time or part-year, compared with 52% of non-visible minority women (Table 11). In comparison, 47% of visible minority men and 40% of non-visible minority men reported working part-time or part of the year in 2005.

Younger and older workers were generally more likely to work part-time or part-year than workers of core-working age. This was also the case for visible minority women. In 2005, 87% of visible minority women aged 15 to 24 worked part-time or part-year, while 72% of those aged 65 and over did the same. That same year, 50% of core-working age visible minority women worked part-time or part-year.

A similar pattern emerged among non-visible minority women of core-working age: 43% of them worked part-time or part-year. The percentage of those working part-time or part-year increased for the older age groups, to 51% among 55- to 64-year-olds and 74% of seniors 65 and over.

Table 11 Visible minority and non-visible minority working part-time or part-year, by age group, Canada, 2006

Among the visible minority groups, Korean (57%), Arab (56%) and West Asian (55%) women aged 25 to 54 were most likely to have worked part-time or part-year; Southeast Asian women were the least likely (45%).

Over one-half employed in traditional female occupations

For the most part, the occupational profile of visible minority women was similar to that of non-visible minority women. Women in both of these groups tended to be employed in jobs that were traditionally occupied by the female population. In the distribution of occupational groups, gender trumped visible minority status as a significant factor.

In 2006, 53% of visible minority women aged 25 to 54 were employed in just two occupational categories: 27% in sales and services and 26% in business, finance and administration (Table 12). Among their non-visible minority counterparts, about the same share, 52%, worked in these two occupational categories. In comparison, 31% of visible minority men and 24% of non-visible minority men were employed in these same categories.

The next most common occupations for visible minority women of core working age were processing, manufacturing jobs (10%), and health-related occupations (10%). In comparison, the most common occupations of visible minority men were in trades, transportation and equipment operating (19%). After this, 19% of visible minority men were employed in sales and services, 15% in natural and applied science, and 12% in business, finance and administration. In 2006, 11% of the workers in management and 11% in processing and manufacturing jobs were visible minority men.

Visible minority women of the core working age made up 16% of employment in all the occupational groups in 2006. Their share of employment was higher than that of non-visible minority women of the same age group in the following occupational categories: processing and manufacturing; natural and applied sciences; sales and services; and trades, transportation and equipment operation. However, visible minority women were less likely than their non-visible minority counterparts to be employed in jobs related to social science, education, government service and religion; art, culture, recreation and sport; management; and business, finance and administration.

Table 12 Visible minority and non-visible minority aged 25 to 54, by occupational group, Canada, 2006

Women in the top four largest visible minority groups were most likely to be employed in business, finance and administration or in sales and services. Chinese (28%) women were most likely to have worked in business, finance and administration while Black (31%), Filipino (39%) and South Asian (28%) women were most likely to be employed in sales and services (Table 13).

Table 13 Top five occupational groups of the four largest visible minority women groups aged 15 years and over, Canada, 2006

Lower employment income

As was the case for non-visible minority women, 76% of visible minority women had their income source from employment. Employment income made up a higher proportion (83%) of total income for visible minority women of core working age (25 to 54), compared with other age groups.

Visible minority women generally earned less than non-visible minority women. In 2006, visible minority women of core working age reported median employment income in 2005 of $23,300, compared to $28,900 for non-visible minority women. (Data not shown)

Employment income was higher among full-time, full-year workers. Visible minority women of core working age who worked full-time, full-year in 2005 earned about $34,000, roughly $4,000 less than non-visible minority women (Table 14).

Table 14 Median employment income for visible minority women aged 25 to 54 years who worked full time, full year, by generation, Canada, 2005

An earnings gap also existed between the sexes. The median employment income of visible minority women aged 25 to 54 who worked full-time; full-year was close to $7,000 less than that of visible minority men, whose median earnings were $40,800. This difference shows that visible minority women of core working age earned about 83% of their male counterparts' earnings (data not shown).

In 2005, Japanese women of core working age who worked full-time, full-year had the highest median employment income ($43,000). This was about $6,000 more than Chinese women and $8,000 more than Black women. Korean and Latin American women had the lowest median earnings, $28,000 and $30,000 respectively (data not shown).

Higher incidence of low income

Visible minority women were more likely to be in a low income situation than non-visible minority women. Of the visible minority women in an economic family, 28% were below the low-income cut-off before tax, compared with 14% of non-visible minority women.

The incidence of low income for visible minority women (28%) was slightly higher than for their male counterparts (27%).

Government transfers helped reduce the number of individuals in low-income situations and were reflected in low-income rates calculated after tax. The low-income rate for visible minority women dropped to 22% after tax, compared with 10% for non-visible minority women.

When immigrant status was taken into account, 22% of visible minority immigrant women were in low-income situations, using after tax calculations, compared with 19% of Canadian-born visible minority women. (Table 15)

Table 15 Low-income for women in economic families, by visible minority and immigrant status, Canada, 2005

Earnings gap disappears among the second and third generation or more

While an earnings disparity existed between all visible minority women and all their non-visible minority counterparts, it disappeared when considering only women born in Canada.

In 2005, visible minority women of core working age who worked full-time, full-year had median earnings of $34,000, about $4,000 less than non-visible minority women (Table 14). This gap existed mainly among first-generation visible minority women. In 2005, first-generation visible minority women aged 25 to 54 working full-time, full-year had median earnings of $32,600, about $5,900 less than similar non-visible minority women.

Labour market outcomes improved among second-generation visible minority women of core working age. Their median earnings in 2005 were about $41,500, slightly less than the median earnings of $42,000 for second-generation non-visible minority women.

The median earnings of third-generation visible minority women, $39,200, were higher than both first generation visible minority and non-visible minority women as well as women of at least three generations in Canada, $37,000.

The earnings outcomes of the second-generation visible minority women, like their employment rates were the result of their high educational attainment.2 First-generation visible minority women, who came as immigrants, included a high proportion of women with a university degree. They generally had to deal with more challenges in the labour market, especially among those who were recent immigrants to Canada3 as their foreign work experience and credentials may not have been directly transferable to the Canadian economy. As a whole, second-generation visible minority women had more positive labour market outcomes than their immigrant parents or grandparents.4

Perceived experience of discrimination

According to the 2009 General Social Survey (GSS), visible minorities, regardless of gender, more often reported experiencing discrimination or unfair treatment than non-visible minorities. One-quarter of both visible minority sexes in Canada reported discrimination or unfair treatment during the five years preceding the survey in 2009. In comparison, 13% of non-visible minority people reported discrimination or unfair treatment during the same period.

The most common reasons given as the basis of the experience of discrimination or unfair treatment were "ethnicity or culture" and "race or colour". Among visible minority women aged 15 and over, 17% reported that they were discriminated against or treated unfairly because of their race or colour and 17% said it was due to their ethnicity or culture (Table 16). These two reasons were each reported by about 3% of non-visible minority women.

Language was the third-most common reason behind their experience, reported by about 9% of visible minority women compared with 2% of non-visible minority women.

Table 16 Canadians aged 15 and over who reported experiencing discrimination or unfair treatment in Canada in last five years, 2005 to 2009

Although the percentages varied by gender and visible minority status, the three most common situations of discrimination or unfair treatment for all the GSS respondents were in the workplace or when applying for a job or promotion; in a store, bank or restaurant; and on the street (Table 17).

Nevertheless, 94% of the visible minority population and 96% of the non-visible minority population said that they felt they lived in a welcoming community.

Table 17 Canadians aged 15 and over who reported experiencing discrimination or unfair treatment in Canada in last five years, by type of situation, 2005 to 2009

Definitions

The Employment Equity Act defines visible minorities as 'persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.' Under this definition, regulations specify the following groups as visible minorities: Chinese, South Asians, Blacks, Arabs, West Asians, Filipinos, Southeast Asians, Latin Americans, Japanese, Koreans and other visible minority groups, such as Pacific Islanders. For details on each of the groups that make up the visible minority population, see the Visible Minority Population and Population Group Reference Guide, 2006 Census. Catalogue no.97-562-GWE2006003.

Immigrant refers to a person who is or has ever been a landed immigrant. A landed immigrant or permanent resident is a person who has been granted the right to live in Canada permanently by immigration authorities. Immigrants are either Canadian citizens by naturalization (the citizenship process) or permanent residents (landed immigrants) under Canadian legislation. Some immigrants have resided in Canada for a number of years, while others have arrived recently. Although a small number of immigrants are born in Canada, most immigrants are born outside Canada. Therefore, in this study, the term "born in Canada" is occasionally used to describe non-immigrants, in order to clarify the text.

Recent immigrants (also known as newcomers) are landed immigrants who came to Canada up to five years prior to a given census year. For the 2006 Census, recent immigrants are landed immigrants who arrived in Canada between January 1, 2001 and Census Day, May 16, 2006. Similarly, recent immigrants in the 2001 Census were newcomers at the time of the 2001 Census, i.e., they came to Canada between January 1, 1996 and Census Day, May 15, 2001.

Non-permanent residents are people from another country who had a Work or Study Permit, or who were refugee claimants at the time of the census, and family members living in Canada with them.

Permanent residents , defined by The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, fall intothree basic classes: Economic, Family and Protected Persons. Permanent residents are persons who have not become Canadian citizens, but have been authorized to live and work in Canada indefinitely, provided that they meet residency requirements and do not lose their status by reason of serious criminality, security, human rights violations, organized crime or misrepresentation.

Temporary residents are foreign workers, international students and visitors who gain temporary entry by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Note: The concepts of permanent residents and temporary residents are used when analysing administrative data from the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. These are different from the concepts of immigrants and non-permanent residents used in the Canadian census.

Generation status indicates for how many generations a person and their family have been in Canada. It is derived from place of birth of respondent, place of birth of father and place of birth of mother and it pertains only to the population aged 15 and older. A person is defined as either 'first generation,' 'second generation' or 'third generation or more,' as follows:

  • first generation: Persons born outside Canada. For the most part, these are people who are now, or have ever been, landed immigrants in Canada. Also included in the first generation are a small number of people born outside Canada to parents who are Canadian citizens by birth. In addition, the first generation includes people who are non-permanent residents.
  • second generation: Persons born in Canada with at least one parent born outside Canada. This includes: (a) persons born in Canada with both parents born outside Canada and (b) persons born in Canada with one parent born in Canada and one parent born outside Canada (these persons may have grandparents born inside or outside Canada as well).
  • third generation or more: Persons born in Canada with both parents born in Canada (these persons may have grandparents born inside or outside Canada as well).

Census metropolitan area is an area consisting of one or more neighbouring municipalities situated around a major urban core. A census metropolitan area must have a total population of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more live in the urban core.

Attendance at school refers to the attendance and the type of school attended during the nine-month period between September 2005 and May 16, 2006. An individual's attendance could be either full time or part time (day or evening), even if the individual dropped out after registration. Attendance was counted only for courses which could be used as credits towards a certificate, diploma or degree from a recognized educational institution (elementary or secondary school, registered apprenticeship programs, trade schools, colleges, CEGEPs and universities).

Major field of study refers to the predominant discipline or area of learning or training of a person's highest postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree. For more information on the classification of the fields, refer to 2006 Census Dictionary, Catalogue no.92-566-XWE.

Occupation refers to the kind of work persons were doing during the reference week, as determined by their kind of work and the description of the main activities in their job. If the person did not have a job during the week (Sunday to Saturday) prior to enumeration (May 16, 2006), the data relate to the job of longest duration since January 1, 2005. Persons with two or more jobs were to report the information for the job at which they worked the most hours. For more information on the classification of the occupational group, refer to 2006 Census Dictionary,Catalogue no.92-566-XWE.

Employment rate is the number of people for a particular group (age, sex, marital status, geographical area, etc.) employed in the week (Sunday to Saturday) prior to Census Day (May 16, 2006), expressed as a percentage of the total population in that particular group.

Unemployment rate is the unemployed people in a particular group (age, sex, marital status, geographical area, etc.) expressed as a percentage of the labour force in that group, in the week (Sunday to Saturday) prior to Census Day (May 16, 2006).

Employment income or earnings refers to total income received by persons 15 years of age and over during calendar year 2005 as wages and salaries, net income from a non-farm unincorporated business and/or professional practice, and/or net farm self-employment income.

Low-income cut-offs (LICOs) are income thresholds, determined by analysing family expenditure data, below which families will devote a larger share of income to the necessities of food, shelter and clothing than the average family would. To reflect differences in the costs of necessities among different community and family sizes, LICOs are defined for five categories of community size and seven of family size. LICOs before and after tax can all be used.

Work activity refers to the number of weeks in which a person worked for pay or in self-employment in 2005 at all jobs held, even if only for a few hours, and whether these weeks were mostly full-time (30 hours or more per week) or mostly part-time (1 to 29 hours per week).

The term 'full-year full-time workers' refers to persons 15 years of age and over who worked 49 to 52 weeks (mostly full time) in 2005 for pay or in self-employment.


Notes

  1. Caron Malenfant, Éric, André Lebel and Laurent Martel. 2010. Projections of the Diversity of the Canadian Population, 2006 to 2031. Statistics Canada. Catalogue no.91-551-X.  (accessed January 13, 2011)
  2. Picot, Garnett and Feng Hou. 2011. Seeking Success in Canada and the United States: The Determinants of Labour Market Outcomes Among the Children of Immigrants. Statistics Canada Catalogue no.11F0019M. Ottawa, Ontario. Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series, no. 331. (accessed April 15, 2011)
  3. Plante, Johanne. 2010. Characteristics and Labour Market Outcomes of Internationally-educated Immigrants. Statistics Canada. Catalogue no.81-595-M. Culture, Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics Research papers, no. 84. (accessed January 13, 2011 )
  4. Palameta, Boris. October 2007. "Economic Integration of Immigrants' Children." Perspectives on Labour and Income. Vol. 8, no. 10. Statistics Canada Catalogue no.75-001-XIE. (accessed May 3, 2011)