Chinese Engineers in Canada: Model Minority hits the Glass Ceiling

Dr. Lloyd Wong,
Carol Wong
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Historically institutional racism has been a part of Chinese life throughout their history in Canada. Having faced discriminatory immigration restrictions, to being denied the right to vote, the Chinese in Canada have endured outright racism. Nonetheless, the Chinese have now made it so far as to be considered by some to be a "model minority" in Canada. Nonetheless, there is still evidence that many Chinese, despite occupational mobility, are disadvantaged in Canadian society. Analyses of recent Census of Canada data suggest there is a "glass ceiling" for Chinese engineers and scientists as measured by a significant income disparity compared to non-Chinese engineers and scientists. In addition there have been suggestions that the Chinese in Canada are under-represented in managerial positions. For the purpose of this paper the "glass ceiling" consists of artificial barriers and obstacles that are extraneous to the official qualifications of individuals. This paper examines the perceptions and experiences of Chinese engineers in Canada with respect to the "glass ceiling". The methodology utilized to gather the data included a mail-out social survey and 23 in-depth interviews with Chinese engineers. This paper will present the major findings from this study. The findings show that the glass ceiling is perceived to exist by many Chinese engineers and many also report having experienced it first-hand. These perceptions and experiences vary by such variables as nativity, length of residency in Canada, age, and gender. Preliminary interview data also reveals a multi-layered interpretation of the glass ceiling phenomenon. This paper concludes with some policy and program recommendations.

Keywords: Chinese Engineers, glass-ceiling, organization diversity, discrimination
Stream: Organisations
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Chinese Engineers in Canada

Dr. Lloyd Wong

Associate Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology Faculty of Social Sciences , University of Calgary

Dr Lloyd Wong is currently an associate professor in the Department of Sociology, University of Calgary. He obtained his Ph. D. in 1988 from York University in Toronto. His research and teaching interests are in the areas of racism, migration, ethnic entrepreneurship, transnationalism, and citizenship and he is currently engaged in major research projects on: 1) immigrants' initiative in Calgary and Vancouver's new economy; 2) citizenship and civic participation in Calgary's ethno-cultural communities; and 3) Chinese engineers and the 'glass ceiling'. He has presented conference papers recently at the 7th Metropolis Conference, Montreal (2004); Canadian Ethnic Studies Association Conference, Banff (2003); and World Congress of Sociology, Brisbane (2002) and is currently co-editing a book entitled Negotiating Borders and Belonging: Transnational Identities and Practices in Canada to be published by UBC Press in 2005. His recent publications include the following articles and book chapters: Wong, L. (2004). Taiwanese immigrant entrepreneurs in Canada and transnational social space. International Migration, 42(2), 113-152. Wong, L. (2003). Chinese business migration to Australia, Canada and the United States: State policy and the global immigration marketplace. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 12(3), 301-336. V. Satzewich and L. Wong (2003). Immigration, ethnicity and race: Transformation of transnationalism, localism and identities. In W. Clement and L. Vosko (Eds.), Changing Canada: Political economy as transformation (pp. 363-390, Chpt. 15). Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's Press. Wong, L. (2002). Transnationalism, diasporic communities and changing identity: Implications for Canadian citizenship policy. In Janice Stein and David Cameron (Eds.), Street protests and fantasy parks: Globalization, culture, and the state (pp. 49-87, Chpt. 3). Vancouver: UBC Press. Wong, L. and Ng, M. (2002). The emergence of small transnational enterprise in Vancouver: The case of Chinese immigrant entrepreneurs. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 26(3), 508-530.

Carol Wong

Department of Sociology, University of Calgary

Carol Wong is currently a Masters graduate student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Calgary in Canada. She graduated with a BA in Sociology from the University of Calgary and her current research interests are in the areas of 'race', ethnicity, discrimination, and the glass ceiling.

Ref: D05P0225