Engineering Work: The Intersection of Gender, Immigrant Status and Credentialism

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Monica BOYD, University of Toronto, Canada
Lisa KAIDA, McMaster University, Canada
Siyue TIAN, University of Toronto, Canada
Globalization and the knowledge economy mantra mean that post-industrial nations are now competing for “the best and the brightest”.  Internationally trained engineers are central in this race, working in the ICT fields and resource extraction areas as well as offering consultation services globally.  In Canada for example, annual permanent visa records show that at the start of the millennium approximately four out of ten of those admitted who were between age 25 and 64 and gave occupations were engineers.

In the broader literature, the fields of science, technology, and engineering are often deemed as culturally neutral, open, and mobile.  But, research shows that highly skilled immigrants, including engineers, often do not work in jobs that are commensurate with their training.  Furthermore, women who are trained in engineering in general face employment disadvantages, facing significant penalties in earnings and in promotions to management and experiencing barriers from androcentric work environments.

Our research combines the two dimensions of inequality: gender and immigrant status , adding a third contextual factor, notably the role of licensing requirement that are mandated by the state and upheld through professional associations.  Our analysis of the 2011 National Household Survey, which replaced the 2011 Census 2B survey, demonstrates that being internationally educated and being female carry penalties for those trained in engineering. Internationally educated immigrant women are more likely than their male counterparts or Canadian-born women and men not to be employed; they are less likely to hold occupations directly related to their engineering training, and they have the lowest average earnings. Moreover, the earnings penalty of not being in occupations related to engineering training is highest for immigrant women. These findings are consistent with the “double negative effect” in which gender and nativity related barriers intersect with destination country re-accreditation barriers .