Women Newcomer Professionals in the GTA

Today is International Women’s Day, so it is a good time to revisit how the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) labour market is getting on in leveraging the talent of women newcomer professionals. While the overall unemployment rates for newcomer women have been on a declining trend, the gender gaps in employment & earnings are still intact – and we need to do much more.

Unemployment continues to present a barrier in realizing the true potential of female newcomer professionals. In the GTA, the unemployment rate of recent, working-age female economic immigrants was 14.1% in 2016, compared to 7.9% for male economic immigrants.[1] Similarly, university-educated female newcomers were 3.5 times more likely to be unemployed than university-educated men born in Canada. [2] 

The gender gap in wage income is just as prevalent. Our State of Immigrant Inclusion report last year showed that newcomer women in the GTA with a university degree or higher earned almost half the amount of their counterparts born in Canada. And, unfortunately, this hasn’t changed in the last 15 years. In addition, newcomer women were disproportionately affected by underemployment.  Only 37% with a bachelor’s degree or above, for instance, were in a job that required university education, compared to 54% for newcomer men with the same qualifications.[3]

Taking an intersectional perspective gives an even clearer view of the challenges – women are much worse off when they are both recent immigrants and belong to racialized groups. Racialized women newcomers with university degree or above were 4.6 times more likely to be unemployed than non-racialized men born in Canada with the same qualifications, and 3.2 times more likely to be without employment compared to their racialized counterparts born in Canada. [4] It is important not to forget that every women and every immigrant experience the job market differently.

Given the gaps and intersectionalities, how can we promote equality in the GTA labour market for women newcomer professionals? There are many things that employers can do to help. Below are a few priority areas and tips to consider:

  • Draw on TRIEC’s Inclusive Workplace Competencies to equip staff and decision-makers with the knowledge, skills, and expectations to act inclusively in the workplace
  • Set diversity and inclusion targets for newcomer women, hold staff accountable, track and evaluate progress and communicate the results[5]
  • Learn how to take a strategic approach to creating an inclusive workplace with TRIEC’s Certificate in Inclusive Leadership.
  • Carry out a gender gap analysis to assess where your organization stands in the inclusion of women overall, as some of the barriers faced by women professionals are regardless of immigration status
  • Adopt flexible working arrangements, extended leave options and back-to-work initiatives to support women to (re)join the workforce[6]

[1] Statistics Canada, 2016 Census of Population, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98-400-X2016203.
[2] Statistics Canada, 2016 Census of Population, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98-400-X2016198.
[3] TRIEC, 2018, State of Immigrant Inclusion in the Greater Toronto Area Labour Market.
[4] Statistics Canada, 2016 Census of Population, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98-400-X2016286.
[5] Based on McKinsey & Company, 2017, Women Matter: Time to Accelerate.
[6] Ibid