Immigrant Women from India Are the Most Highly Educated

  • Just over one-quarter (27.5 percent) of immigrant women had a bachelor’s degree or more education in 2012, compared to 29.4 percent of native-born women and 28.4 percent of foreign-born men.
  • The educational attainment of foreign-born women in 2012 varied widely according to country of origin.
  • Among the top ten origin countries for female immigrants, the highest percentage of female immigrants with a bachelor’s degree or more education came from India (71.6 percent), followed by the Philippines (52 percent), and China (47.1 percent). At the other end of the spectrum were Guatemala (7.9 percent), El Salvador (7.7 percent), and Mexico (26.7 percent) .
  • Female immigrants had a higher percentage of bachelor’s degrees or higher compared to their male counterparts in six out of ten of the top origin countries for female immigrants .

Figure 5: Share of Foreign-Born Population with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher, by Select Countries of Origin, 2012

  • The share of immigrant women with a bachelor’s degree or more education increased from 22.1 percent in 2000 to 27.5 percent in 2012. The share of native-born women with a comparable level of education also increased from 22.9 percent in 2000 to 29.4 percent in 2012.

Immigrant women are active in the labor force, with some origin countries seeing a higher rate of labor force participation for foreign-born women than for native-born women.

  • On average, 56.4 percent of foreign-born women were in the labor force in 2012, compared to 59.2 percent of native-born women.
  • Foreign-born women make up 15 percent of employed women over 16 in the United States.
  • The labor-force participation rate of immigrant women rose from 50.5 percent in 2000 to 57.1 percent in 2008, and fell slightly in 2012 to 56.4 percent. By way of comparison, the labor-force participation rate of native-born women rose from 58.6 percent in 2000 to 60.6 percent in 2008, and fell slightly to 59.2 percent in 2012. • Of the top ten origin countries for foreign-born women:o Women from five of these countries have higher rates of labor force participationthan native-born women .§ The Philippines (67 percent), El Salvador (65.8 percent), Vietnam (64percent), the Dominican Republic (61.6 percent), and Guatemala (61.2 percent), compared to native-born women (59.2 percent).
  • Immigrant women from Canada have the lowest rate of participation in the labor force among the top ten origin countries at 47.8 percent.
  • However, in absolute numbers, there are more native-born women over 16 years old in the labor force (66.7 million) than foreign-born women (11.3 million).

Figure 6: Percentage of Women in the Labor Force, 2012

  • About one-third (32 percent) of immigrant women in the labor force worked in management and professional occupations in 2012, while just under a third (32.8 percent) worked in service occupations, under one quarter (23.3 percent) in sales and office occupations, and one-in-ten (10.2 percent) in production and transportation occupations .

Figure 7: Percentage of Foreign-Born and Native-Born Women by Occupation, 2012

  • Over two-thirds of immigrant women from India who were in the labor force in 2012 worked in management and professional occupations (66.3 percent), compared to two-fifths of native-born women (41 percent).
  • Over half of immigrant women in the labor force from Guatemala worked in service occupations (53 percent), compared to one-fifth of native-born women (19.8 percent).
  • Roughly 40 percent of immigrant business owners were women, and 20 percent of women business owners were immigrants, as of 2010.8