Muslim women in the Canadian labor market: Between ethnic exclusion and religious discrimination

Nabil Khattab, Sami Miaari, Marwan Mohamed-Ali, Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This paper compares the labor market position of women from religious minority backgrounds with that of the majority group of Christian White Canadian women. In particular, it examines the relative disadvantage of Muslim women in relation to labor market participation, unemployment rate and the likelihood of obtaining managerial and professional occupations. The analysis was carried out using data obtained from the 2011 Canadian National Household Survey (NHS). The results suggested that, relative to White Christian women, most ethno-religious groups were significantly disadvantaged in the Canadian labor market, especially in relation to participation and unemployment. However, the pattern that was found in relation to occupational attainment was different and worth discussing. Not all Muslim women seemed to be disadvantaged in obtaining managerial and professional jobs. Black and Arab Muslim women, surprisingly enough, were as likely as the majority, Christian White women to be represented within the category of managers and professionals. This paper considers cultural explanations and the role of discrimination and a human capital deficit, as well as suggesting new directions by proposing the hypothesis of ‘discouraged women’, in explaining the low rate of participation, and a ‘surplus education’ hypothesis to explain occupational attainment. However, by and large, structural inequality, fostered by cultural racism and that based on color, remains the most plausible explanation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-64
Number of pages13
JournalResearch in Social Stratification and Mobility
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Canada
  • Ethno-religious penalties
  • Islamophobia
  • Labor market
  • Muslim women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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