Segregation of Women and Aboriginal People within Canada's Forest Sector by Industry and Occupation

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Abstract / Résumé

This study examines employment segregation by gender and by Aboriginal ancestry within Canada's forest sector in 2001. Results show that while gender segregation was principally by occupation, segregation by Aboriginal ancestry was principally by industry sub-sector. White women were over represented in clerical occupations and Aboriginal men were over represented in woods based industries. Patterns of employment for Aboriginal women differed from those of both Aboriginal men and white women.

Cette étude examine la ségrégation d'emploi par le sexe et l'ascendance Aborigène dans le secteur forestier au Canada en 2001. Les résultats démontrent que la ségrégation par le sexe était principalement par profession tandis que la ségrégation liée à l'ascendance Aborigène était surtout par sous-secteur d'industrie. Les femmes blanches occupaient les postes administratifs de façon disproportionnée et les hommes Aborigènes se trouvaient plutôt dans les emplois de l'industrie du bois. De plus, les modèles d'emploi pour les femmes Aborigènes différaient de ceux d'hommes Aborigènes et de femmes blanches.


Forestry continues to be an important industry for Canada and an important source of employment for residents of rural and remote forested regions in the provincial norths. Historically however, jobs in the forest industry have not been equally distributed across the population. Several studies have demonstrated that women and Aboriginal people have not been equally represented in many forms of forest employment (Teskey and Smyth, 1975, Hopwood et al., 1993, Merkel et al., 1994, Rossiter, 1995). Due to the variability in employment conditions and wages among jobs in the forest sector, the existence of unequal representation might easily result in income inequity among groups in regions with high forest sector employment. Over the past decade there has been widespread acknowledgement of the need for forest companies to develop hiring and management practises that support the employment of both women and Aboriginal people in forest work at all levels (Anderson, 1999). Despite the political and social importance of diversity in forest employment there has been no recent examination of the degree of occupational and industry segregation within the forest industry across Canada. This paper addresses the need for a better understanding of employment inequities by presenting recent data on employment segregation by Aboriginal identity and gender in the forest sector.

Literature Review

Employment segregation is the tendency for groups of people to be differentially represented across a particular set of occupations and/or industries. Differences in group representation across jobs is often linked to social inequality since jobs in different occupations and industries are variable in terms of wages, benefits, degree of stability and other qualitative attributes. In this paper I distinguish horizontal segregation, the separation of groups into different occupations and industries without distinguishing whether the difference follows a hierarchy of power and opportunity, from vertical segregation, where the differential representation of groups is hierarchical and demonstrates inequality among groups in terms of wages, stability and job quality.

Gender segregation in the work force has been the focus of sociological inquiry for almost half a century. While segregation in the work force has declined over the past half century, gender continues to be a strong determinant of occupation (Robinson, 1998). Since women's work has often been devalued occupational gender segregation has resulted in economic disadvantage for women in the paid work force (Cohen and Huffman, 2003). Women have typically been over represented in white and pink collar professions while they have been under represented in higher status white collar professions and in many blue collar jobs.

There has been a general decrease in occupational segregation by gender in many countries, including Canada from the 1950s through to the 1990s (Brooks et al. …


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