Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Teacher Diversity in Canada: Leaky Pipelines, Bottlenecks, and Glass Ceilings

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Teacher Diversity in Canada: Leaky Pipelines, Bottlenecks, and Glass Ceilings

Article excerpt

This article examines the racial diversity of the teacher population in Canada. In particular, we compare the number of teachers of colour in Canadian elementary and secondary schools from the 2001 and 2006 Census data with the diversity of the student and general populations. We also explore ways to understand the gap between the proportion of Canadian educators and students of colour by interrogating the leaky pipeline metaphor that scholars commonly employ to account for labour shortages. We contend that the pipeline metaphor, frequently used to account for supply and demand balances in various professions, does not sufficiently explain this disparity, and we explore others.

Key words: diversity, teacher workforce, equity, metaphor

Les auteurs se penchent sur la diversite raciale d'effectif enseignant au Canada. Ils examinent en particulier le nombre d'enseignants de couleur dans les ecoles primaires et secondaires canadiennes selon les donnees de recensement de 2001 et de 2006 et les comparent a la diversite raciale de la population scolaire et de la population en general. Cet article explore en outre les facons de comprendre l'ecart entre la proportion d'enseignants et d'eleves de couleur en analysant la metaphore du pipeline qui fuit souvent employee par les universitaires pour expliquer les penuries de main-d'oeuvre. Les auteurs soutiennent que cette metaphore, frequemment utilisee pour rendre compte des deficits entre l'offre et de la demande dans diverses professions, ne suffit pas a expliquer la disparite observee et proposent d'autres metaphores.

Mors cles : diversite, effectif enseignant, equite


It has become almost a cliche to say that communities are becoming more diverse. In some contexts diversity has become so commonplace that it is often taken for granted. But whether we notice it or not, diversity enters our lives in many ways--from the range of consumer choices open to us, to the unique practices we encounter, to the people with whom we interact every day. Perhaps the most obvious element of this diversity, particularly for those who live in large cities, is the latter: the people. Canada's population continues to become more racially diverse as current immigration and Canadian birth pattern change the face of the population. Over the past four decades, the percentage of "visible minority" (1) residents has increased dramatically (Statistics Canada, 2005b). As the diversity of the general population has increased, so has the student population, particularly in the metropolitan areas (Harvey & Houle, 2006). Although much is known about the composition of the general and student populations, less is known about Canada's educators. Evidence from other Western countries, such as the United Kingdom (Bariso, 2001; Carrington et. al., 2005) and the United States (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2005, 2006), and from dated Canadian surveys (Moll, 2001), indicates that the racialized teacher population has not kept pace with the racialized student and general populations. In fact, it appears to be falling further and further behind, despite the acclaimed value of racialized educators (e.g., Solomon, 1997; National Collaborative on Diversity in the Teaching Force, 2004; The Toronto District School Board, 2007). Currently, however, little is known about the diversity of Canada's contemporary educator workforce. We do not know how many teachers of colour work in elementary and secondary schools, how their numbers compare with white teachers or with the diversity of the general population, or why such differences or similarities exist.

To answer these questions, we have explored the diversity of the Canadian secondary and elementary teacher workforce, identified noteworthy differences and similarities between the 2001 and 2006 Canadian Census (2) numbers of teacher diversity, and endeavored to understand the respective patterns. …

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