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Gupta, T. D., Man, G., Mirchandani, K., & Ng, R. (2014). Class borders: Chinese and South Asian Canadian professional women navigating the labor market. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 23(1), 55-83.

The authors of the article discuss such factors of Canadian immigration policy as racist stereotyping, gender hierarchies and occupational closures. The problem is that even the most educated or experienced immigrants from China and India face these issues after their arrival to the country. They force them to work at the low-paid jobs and deny them the chance to hold the same class position they had at home. The goal of the article is to study and explore the experience of the women from India and China who turn from the representatives of the elite and professional class in their native countries to low-wage immigrant workers who serve the international elite. The authors assert that female professionals in particular spheres who held high social ranks at their homelands use the pre-migration class resources and some uncertain jobs to become successful, to get better working places and to avoid underpaid jobs.

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The research of the authors of the article is based on the empirical study. This study analyzes how the skilled female immigrants from China and India learned to rearrange their abilities and experiences to provide themselves with good jobs in Canada. The authors interviewed 11 women from China and 12 from India. They covered personal information about each woman, their original work expectations and real-life immigration experience. All the interviewed women, both Chinese and Indian, got a good education at home and had BA, BSc or MA degrees in different disciplines. After the immigration, many of them had difficulties finding jobs in their fields of knowledge. The first job after the immigration for 7 out of 23 women was a work at the call centers, and three were unemployed at the moment the interview was conducted, although the majority of the women tried to get well-paid jobs or start their own business.

Basing the article on this research, the authors discuss how such aspects as the lack of Canadian experience or poor English language skills lead to the downward mobility and create obstacles for the immigrants on their way of getting high ranks at work and society. However, the research shows that although the interviewed women started their immigrant career at the lower levels of service, they did everything to get administrative or managerial working places. To achieve this, they adjusted their skills to a new environment and used the cultural, social and economic resources of their class, which they possessed at home . The authors state that belonging to a higher class and the ability to navigate the Canadian labor market helped these women get better working places. Besides, these aspects helped them successfully join the higher social ranks. However, those who originally came from the working classes of their homelands remained at the low-waged jobs . The study shows that the interviewed women developed three methods to achieve high status in the Canadian society. These methods are: looking for the “respectable” work, reconsidering their aspirations, making them fit the long-term aims, and using their “social capital” to prevent themselves from staying at precarious jobs for too long.

Regardless of the detailed analysis, I believe there are two aspects that make the research incomplete. The first one is, as the authors acknowledge themselves, a rather small number of females that have been interviewed. I agree that if they had increased the quantity of the participants of the study, they might have got a different result. The second aspect is the fact that, according to the information about the women, all of them were already married before their immigration and that their husbands were the main source of income in Canada. I think the research would have been complete if the authors included the stories of single immigrant women to see if the marital status has any influence on the women’s working possibilities, and whether it holds or, on the contrary, promotes their career development.


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