Janet SALAFF (University of Toronto), and Arent GREVE (Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration), Chinese Immigrant Women: From Professional to Family Careers, English/38 pages, July 2006.


We investigate labor market outcomes for immigrants in Canada for a sample of highly educated men and women from the People's Republic of China with a focus on women and how their careers change as they enter the Canadian labor market. Applying an institutional approach, we discuss how professions are institutionalized into segmented labor markets with specific expectations of education and career paths. We analyze how skills, careers and gendered occupational roles are institutionalized differently in the two countries, and how skills and gender role mismatch is particularly disadvantageous for women. Although men are slightly better educated than women, there were considerable equality in their career outcomes in China. Entering Canada, most face problems in the labor market. Employers do not accept their credentials, and most land low-level jobs. Women have the worst outcomes; not only does credentialing work against them, but so do gender-specific work roles. Many women turn their energies to their families and have second children. The institutional approach explains how professions constitute rules of the labor market and how social systems create gender roles for work and family life. Moving from one institutional setting to another creates broken careers because the two systems are not integrated and are incompatible with regard to credentials and gender work roles.