State Policy, Settlement Services, and Employment Prospects: An Ethnographic Investigation of Immigrant Women’s Social and Economic Integration in Canada

Drawing on 31 three-hour sessions of participant-observation and 41 semi-structured interviews with the participants and organizers of an employment and leadership skills program for immigrant women at two Neighbourhood Houses in Vancouver, this enthnographic study examines the influence of Canadian immigration policies and settlement services on the employment trajectories of immigrant women. A key research finding concerns how women who have not yet obtained permanent residency negotiate gaps in services, and thus how prompt provision of settlement services would improve both integration and labour market participation. This dissertation is sociologically significant in its contribution to explicating the distinctive institutionalized racial and gender barriers that research participants encountered in their attempts to achieve meaningful employment and full citizenship in Canada. Policy recommendations include: 1) more efficient processes for issuing work permits to permanent resident applicants; 2) improved access to healthcare services and supportive English language training programs, and 3) greater outreach and education about multiculturalism, cultural sensitivity and inclusivity.

Heather Holroy
Degree: PhD
Status: Completed
Supervisor: Thomas Kemple
Department and University: Department of Sociology, University of British Columbia
Link to Completed Thesis: