Title

Gender and visible minority status: Career advancement in the Canadian information and communications technology sector

Abstract

In spite of the economic downturn, demographic factors are expected to continue to produce a labour

shortage particularly in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. In Canada,

the sector has signaled that critical skills shortages exist in certain areas although the extent of these

shortages is the subject of much debate. While economists have suggested that by the year 2011, all

labor force growth in Canada will come from immigration, research has shown that immigrants often

face barriers to full employment. Similarly, women are under-represented in ICT and face a range of

barriers to employment and advancement. Increasingly, both government and industry have asserted

that more effective “management of diversity” could help alleviate the skills shortage. To date,

research has focused on barriers to entering the workplace but less has focused career satisfaction

even though there is evidence to suggest that these may have significant impact on employee retention

and productivity. The role of demographic factors is complex. For example, in Canada, while all

immigrants are not visible minorities and all visible minorities are not immigrants; recent immigrants

are more likely to be visible minorities. In addition, the intersection of variables, such as gender and

visible minority status, complicates the analysis. Our study examines demographic factors affecting

career satisfaction among 7110 managers with a minimum of 10 years experience in nine large

Canadian companies in the Information Communications and Technology Sector. We found that the

gap between visible minorities and white/Caucasian respondents in perceptions of career satisfaction

and factors affecting it, to be larger than the gap in perceptions of male and female respondents. More

work is needed to address these issues if the ICT Sector is to effectively deal with the skills shortage.

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