Canadian women who are members of a visible minority group are more likely than their counterparts to hold a university degree, newly released data from Statistics Canada show.
Based on statistics gathered in 2011, the agency says nearly 40 per cent of visible minority women aged 25 to 54 held a university degree that year, compared with 27 per cent of same-aged women who were not a visible minority.
The number of degree holders was even higher among visible minority women who identified second-generation Canadians – meaning at least one of their parents was born outside the country, but they were born here. A full 50 per cent of visible minority women in the second-generation category had earned a university degree.
“We do have some research that shows that children of immigrant parents do tend to be more likely to have a degree,” noted Tamara Hudon, the author of the Statistics Canada publication.
“This has to do with the fact that immigrants, on average, tend to be more likely themselves to have a university degree.”
If a parent has a achieved that level of academic achievement, a child is more likely to follow suit, Hudon explained.
Visible minority women were also more likely to have a university degree than men of the same age, regardless of minority or generation status, and were more likely than the rest of the female population to have earned a post-secondary credential in a scientific or technical field.
In 2011, there were about 3.2 million visible minority women and girls in Canada, with the vast majority living in urban areas. That’s four times the number that were living here in 1981.
Visible minorities are defined in the Employment Equity Act as “persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.”
The 2011 National Household Survey, from which the data was drawn, was not mandatory, and experts have pointed out that the quality of the data may have been affected as a result. Statistics Canada itself said the methodology behind the NHS was “introduced relatively rapidly with limited testing” and that it would not “provide a level of quality that would have been achieved through a mandatory long-form census.”
The 2016 census, expected to be sent out to Canadian households this spring, will be mandatory. It will collect the same data on visible minority status and education status, said Hudon, which will allow updated statistics to be compiled.