restricted access Education, Employment, and Income Polarization among Aboriginal Men and Women in Canada

Aboriginal women and men (aged 25-44) have made substantial gains in education, employment, and income. Higher levels of education, full-time employment, and earned income allowed some Indian, Métis, and Inuit men and women to close the gaps between themselves and their non-Aboriginal counterparts. On the other hand, at the lower end of the ladder, conditions have stagnated or deteriorated. As a result, social inequality is increasing substantially within Indian and Inuit populations: polarization is less marked among the Métis—the least disadvantaged among Aboriginals. Although women surpass men in educational attainment, a gender gap in income persists among Indian and Métis—but not Inuit—peoples.

In the aggregate, Aboriginal people remain in the lowest ranks in terms of most socioeconomic indicators. However, individuals from each of the Aboriginal identity groups have made impressive gains in higher education, full-time employment, and earned income—effectively leaving those on the bottom rungs of the ladder farther behind. Whereas people who identify as North American Indian on the census are the most disadvantaged among Aboriginals, Indian women fare worse than men. On the lowest rung of the ladder are Indian women, who suffer multiple jeopardy based on race, ethnicity (Aboriginal identity), and gender.