Douglas Todd: Visible minority women are the most educated people in Canada
Article and Photo from the Vancouver Sun
By: Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun
Posted: March 3, 2016
Sophia Cheng says virtually all of her Canadian-born Chinese female friends went to university.
“And all of us have pretty good careers,” said the marketing and public relations consultant, who has a degree from the University of B.C. and a diploma from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. “Many of my female friends went into accounting, dentistry, engineering and medicine.”
That makes Cheng’s friends a prime illustration of a significant trend discovered among the country’s 3.2 million visible-minority women, which was reported Thursday in a major study by Statistics Canada.
The comprehensive report found that Chinese, Korean, South Asian, Filipino and other visible minority women, especially those with at least one immigrant parent, are among the most highly educated people in Canada.
“Canadian-born visible minority women are more likely than other women, and men, to have a university degree,” StatsCan said in its ethnic- and gender-based analysis of the 2011 National Household Survey.
Fifty per cent of second-generation visible minority Canadian women have a university degree. The rate among white women was just 27 per cent.
These second-generation visible-minority women, of prime working age, were also more likely to have a degree than visible-minority men of the same age. The visible-minority men registered at 41 per cent.
In addition, second-generation visible-minority females were more than twice as likely to have a degree than white working-age Canadian men, only 21.4 per cent of whom have a degree.
The StatsCan study found that most visible-minority women, including those who are immigrants, chose to study business, management, public administration or health. They were also far more inclined than white Canadian women to study in scientific, computer or technical fields, where men traditionally predominate.
The proportion of visible minority women and girls in Canada has quadrupled in three decades from the 1980s — to 3.2 million people. They make up 19 per cent of the national female population. And in Metro Vancouver and Toronto, visible minority women and girls make up more than 46 per cent of all women.
Although Statistics Canada discovered that visible minority women who are second-generation had the highest proportion of university degrees of any group, female immigrants to Canada also performed well in higher education.
“As a group, all visible minority women of core working age were more likely than women who were (white) to have obtained a university degree,” said StatsCan. The comparison is 40 per cent versus 27 per cent.
“This difference was even more apparent for males, with 41 per cent of visible minority males holding such a credential, compared with 21 per cent of (white) males.”
Of all ethnic groups in Canada, South Koreans (the ninth largest ethnic group) had the highest proportion of university degrees, followed by ethnic Chinese (the second largest ethnic group, after South Asians).
White males, whether born in Canada or arriving as immigrants, were consistently among the lowest in measures of educational achievement.
The StatsCan report dovetails with an earlier study by Garnet Picot and Feng Hou, of the University of Victoria.
Hou and Picot discovered young Canadians with immigrant backgrounds, most of whom are visible minorities, are almost twice as likely to go to university as students whose parents were born in Canada.
Needing to learn English as another language from kindergarten to Grade 12, their research suggested, can provide an intellectual boost for immigrants and their offspring.
Of all groups in Canada, Picot and Hou found the top students on average are Asian females from an immigrant background.
Thursday’s StatsCan study said it is not necessarily the educational levels of visible minority parents that cause their children to obtain degrees. Rather, the main predictor of success is simply that at least one of the parents is an immigrant with high expectations for offspring.
Sophia Cheng concurs.
“I think my blue-collar parents, who were from Hong Kong, just instilled in us that we had to do well in school. You do well because you’re expected to do well,” said the 34-year-old graduate of Vancouver’s David Thompson Secondary School.
“I now work with a lot of successful women in Vancouver and I guess, when I think about it, a lot are visible minorities.”