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Visible minority women are the most educated people in Canada

March 3, 2016

By Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun |

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.

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