"Generation Gap": Differences in Career Aspirations between the Younger and Older' Migrant Chinese Women in the UK
There are an increasing number of Chinese women entering the UK's labour market in recent years. Most of them came from mainland China to further education or as spouses of Chinese men who came to the UK for further education or employment. Many of these Chinese women are highly educated and possess a high level of professional skills, much of which they had gained in China. However, these educational qualifications and professional skills may not be readily recognised or valued in the labour market in the UK, thus putting them in a disadvantageous position. This paper explores barriers to employment for migrant Chinese women in the UK and analyses strategies they deploy to overcome these barriers in order to gain employment and to enhance their career prospects. The paper draws empirical data from a questionnaire survey study of over 300 Chinese women who entered the UK in the last two decades. This information is supplemented by further interviews with over 60 of the surveyed women. The study reveals that whilst some of the barriers encountered by the Chinese women are generic, there seems to be an age divide among them not only in the type of jobs that they seek and the specific barriers they face, but also more importantly, the attitude that individuals take in tackling the challenges that the employment system in the UK presents them. As such, it appears that age and the associated family burden for older women, but not necessarily educational background, becomes the most important factor in shaping these individuals' opportunity and choice of employment and career prospects.
Keywords: Migrant Chinese women, Employment barrier, Age, Career aspirations, UK
Dr Fang Lee Cooke
Senior Lecturer in Employment Studies, Manchester Business School, The University of Manchester
Research Assistant, Manchester Business School, The University of Manchester