Beyond Gender: The Experiences of Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Female Engineers in the Canadian Labour Market.

Friday, 20 July 2018: 18:45
Oral Presentation
Alla KONNIKOV, University of Calgary, Canada
In Canada, women represent less than 15% among the individuals with engineering training, placing engineering on top of the male-dominated professions. The negative consequences of women's rare representation in organizational contexts have been widely documented across different occupations including engineering. These studies highlight the multiple barriers that women often experience with their entry into the male-dominated fields. At the same time, these findings raise the question regarding the homogeneity of this experience. Women do not represent a homogenous group. Their experiences vary depending on the additional social categories that they carry to the organizational setting, such as being immigrants or belonging to a visible minority group. These women may experience complex intersectional barriers, that are referred to in the literature as a "double disadvantage" or "multiple jeopardy".

Informed by the Tokenism and Intersectionality perspectives, this paper focuses on the patterns of exclusion that immigrant female engineers may experience in the context of a male dominated-field. Using a mixed-method approach, that includes the nationally-representative 2006 Canadian census data and data from in-depth interviews with women working in the engineering field, this paper compares the career experiences and outcomes of female immigrant and non-immigrant engineers in Canada. The findings reveal that the processes of establishing and advancing in engineering, as well as the outcomes of professional careers differ between immigrant and non-immigrant female engineers. The findings highlight that female immigrant engineers are subject to the intersectional patterns of exclusion and are simultaneously penalized by being a woman in a male-dominated field and being an immigrant who seeks recognition of her foreign skills and being ethnically/racially visible. This paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for the intersectionality and tokenism perspectives.