Why immigrant women are struggling to get work in Vancouver’s tech hub

January 5, 2020

By CBC News |

‘It’s a very vast cultural divide that many of them face,’ says diversity and inclusion expert

Women who are new immigrants in B.C. have an especially difficult time finding jobs in the tech sector, according to a Vancouver-based diversity and inclusion expert.

Vancouver is the third-largest tech hub in Canada. But only 18 per cent of tech workers there are women, according to a report by Commercial Real Estate Services Canada.

Jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) industries are predicted to grow over the next decade. But only 50 per cent of immigrants found jobs in their field of study in B.C. last year, according to a 2019 Vancity report.

The organization Immigrant and International Women in Science runs workshops to help immigrant women better integrate themselves into the Canadian tech industry.

Sweta Rajan, co-founder of Immigrant and International Women in Science, works with immigrant women in tech to prepare them for the Canadian job market and help them close the gender gap.

“The workplaces haven’t quite adapted to what our needs are. There’s a lot of unconscious bias and networking challenges … mentorship and sponsorship challenges that women face on a regular basis,” said Rajan.

Rajan went to the U.S. from India in 2000 on a work visa and then immigrated to Vancouver in 2009. She is now a Canadian citizen. Rajan has worked within the tech sector under various research roles over the years and knows first-hand the struggles of immigrant women in tech.

Rajan says one of the biggest challenges facing women who come into Canada is that they do not know what resources are available to them.

“It’s a very vast cultural divide that many of them face,” Rajan told Stephen Quinn, host of The Early Edition.

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