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Rioux began her academic career at the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in 1968 as a research assistant. As the first Director of Research for the National Advisory Council on the Status of Women, she focused her research on indigenous women. Before earning her PhD, Rioux worked as a Policy Analyst on the Law Reform Commission of Canada from 1977 until 1979. In 1978, Rioux and Joanna McFadyen published a report that promoted a revision in the Canadian Criminal Code regarding sexual assault victims. After earning her doctorate, Rioux worked as Director of the Roeher Institute in Downsview, Ontario, from 1987 until 2002.
She was the Director of the York Institute of Health Research at York University from 2002 until 2014. Starting in 2002, she also chaired York's School of Health Policy and Management. In her role as director and chair, Rioux was invited to La Trobe University in 2008 to work with law professor Lee Ann Basser on developing disability policy in Victoria, Australia. A few years later, Rioux, Basser, and Melinda Jones published Critical Perspectives on Human Rights and Disability Law through Brill Publishers.
In February 2013, Rioux began an international research project to promote employment of people with disabilities in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. By April, York University awarded Rioux the 2013 President's Research Excellence Award. Later, in recognition of her academic achievements, York University appointed Rioux the title of Distinguished Research Professor.
In 2014, Rioux was the recipient of the Lieutenant Governor's Community Volunteer Award in recognition of her contributions to Ontario communities. Later that year, she was also named a Member of the Order of Canada for her research in the field of social justice.
^"Critical Perspectives on Human Rights and Disability Law - Edited by Marcia Rioux, Lee Ann Basser & Melinda Jones Review". Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs. 12 (2): 124-126. 2012. doi:10.1111/j.1471-3802.2012.01236_2.x.