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Workfinding & Immigrant Women’s Prosperity in STEM (2020)

Posted on:
April 9, 2022

"The lived experiences of STEM-trained immigrant women in Canada are critically understudied; especially when examined through an overlapping economic and social lens at the intersections of gender, race, ability,  language, health, housing, isolation, access to critical services and market-related information... this study aims to present a pan-Canadian snapshot of the workfinding journeys undertaken by STEM-trained women who immigrated to Canada in the past 15 years."

"Canada stands at the intersection of a duality when it comes to immigrants. On the one hand, it realizes the critical need for sustained (and even increased) immigration in the face of aging demographics, for upholding tax-based funding of universal public services --like healthcare, infrastructure, and education--, global competition for knowledge workers, and labour market and demographic stability. On the other hand, immigrants continue to struggle to various degrees in their attempts to integrate equitably both in the labour market as well as the general social fabric. Based on in-depth interviews with 74 STEM-trained immigrant women in hub-cities of all 13 Canadian provinces and territories, our benchmark pan-Canadian study uses qualitative and participatory approaches to examine the workfinding experiences of highly-skilled immigrant women as a way to deconstruct mainstream ‘explanations’ and rhetorics informing the increasingly narrow economic focus of Canada’s immigration policies.

Along the way, the impact of austerity-led devolution of publicly-funded supports that facilitate occupational and social integration of “ideal immigrants” are also explored. Our findings suggest that the challenges outlined in this report are directly or indirectly tethered to factors  impacting everyday Canadian workers, except that they are experienced much more blisteringly by our participants at the intersection of gender, race, ability, and immigration status. Indeed; unlike their Canadian-born  and non-visible-minority peers, many of our participants have neither established professional networks nor the requisite social capital to open doors or provide shortcuts, while also struggling with the lack of access to  intergenerational family support to alleviate their day-to-day challenges. The results of the study challenge many persistent stereotypes of how Canadian institutions and the general cultural imaginary perceive  immigrant women, and serve to illustrate the necessity of linking Canada’s goals to establish a sustainable and competitive innovation economy, the workfinding experiences of STEM-trained women, and the general  state of workers’ well-being and resilience across the country."

Prosperity Report I - Illustrated Workfinding and Immigrant Women's Prosperity in STEM - June 2020

You can also download a plain text version of the report.

Summary

The lived experiences of STEM-trained immigrant women in Canada are critically understudied; especially when examined through an overlapping economic and social lens at the intersections of gender, race, ability,  language, health, housing, isolation, access to critical services and market-related information... this study aims to present a pan-Canadian snapshot of the workfinding journeys undertaken by STEM-trained women who immigrated to Canada in the past 15 years.
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