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Canada’s tech workforce scores low on diversity, which is costly for innovation: TMU study

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December 1, 2022
By Talent Canada

Photo: conceptcafe/Adobe Stock

Canada’s technology workforce is plagued by gaps in both pay and participation rates for women, people of colour and immigrants, according to new research from Toronto Metropolitan University.

It found, in some cases, the gaps are getting worse — not better. The report was published by the university’s Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship (BII+E).

For example, women had a 4.91 per cent chance of being a tech worker in 2016, down from 6.29 per cent in 2001. For men, it was 20 per cent, unchanged for both time frames. And men make, on average, $3.49 more per hour than women.

Using most recent Statistics Canada person-level data, the report — Further and Further Away: Canada’s unrealized digital potential — found that systemic labour market inequities in pay and participation continue to persist, and, in some cases, have gotten worse, in that there are new inequities in 2016 that did not exist in 2001.


The report includes a salary gap calculator, an interactive tool to track pay gaps amongst demographic groups that have been historically underrepresented in Canada’s economy. Demographic characteristics analyzed include:

  • sex
  • race
  • province of residence
  • immigration status
  • age (proxied by experience)

Boosting participation of women, those of colour and immigrants in the innovation ecosystem not only fosters a more equitable economy, it improves innovation performance itself by ensuring a diversity of skills, knowledge, and perspectives, it said.

Key findings

Among the key findings:

  • Women are increasingly being excluded from tech work. In 2001, a woman had a 6.29 percent chance of being a tech worker. In 2016, the probability decreased to 4.91 percent. Conversely, a man had a 20 percent chance of being a tech worker, which remained unchanged between 2001 and 2016.
  • University degrees are still essential for employment in the tech sector. The research found that not having a university degree is equivalent to the gender participation gap. With all other characteristics controlled for, a man without a university degree had a 5.28 percent chance of being a tech worker in 2016.
  • The gender pay gap persists and is compounded by intersectionality. Our research reveals that men make an average of $3.49 per hour more in pay than women. Further, having a visible minority identity (averaging across all identities) lowers one’s income by $3.89 per hour.
  • There are pay inequities amongst immigrants working in tech that did not exist before. In 2001, there was no observable pay gap between immigrant and non-immigrant tech workers, but from 2001 to 2016, a pay gap emerged, to an average of more than $5.70 per hour (in 2016 dollars). The immigrant pay penalty in tech is larger than the gender pay gap.

“As a country, we must foster an inclusive innovation economy. Yet, when we look at tech workers, or those who are at the forefront of technological adoption and innovation, we see many of the same inequities that existed in 2001 that exclude women, racialized individuals, and those who didn’t come from a traditional educational background. If we are to build an economy that works for all, we can’t afford to exclude anyone from the tech workforce,” said Viet Vu, report author and Manager of Economic Research at the Brookfield Institute.

View the full report at https://brookfieldinstitute.ca/wp-content/uploads/Further-and-Further-report-FINAL.pdf

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