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Job transferability of Chinese immigrant women in Vancouver : their voices Chiu, Siu-Miu Luda


The raising of immigration standards for entry into Canada in recent years has resulted in many Chinese immigrant women from Hong Kong being admitted as "independent applicants", on the strength of their academic standing, official language proficiency, and professional training. However, many of them are not able to access jobs for which they would seem to have the appropriate credentials. No studies have yet systematically examined the barriers these women face in the job market in Vancouver. A literature review shows two main approaches to the problems of immigrants adapting to life in their new country. The cultural approach concentrates on the effects of the immigrants' own culture on the adaptation process, and the cultural conflicts between the mainstream culture and the culture immigrants bring with them. The structural approach emphasizes the impact of the social structure of the host country on immigrants, and examines structural barriers which bar immigrants from moving upward in the labour market. The first approach concentrates on immigrants and their culture while the second focuses on the structural constraints experienced by immigrants. The present research argues that examining employment issues of immigrants from only one of these two approaches is inadequate. Both perspectives are important. other informal barriers which could not be categorized under these two approaches should not be ignored. This is a qualitative study based on in-depth interviews with 20 Chinese immigrant women from Hong Kong. The research problem is limited to the employment experiences, as well as to the meanings of events and processes, described by these women. The central questions are: (1) What do Chinese immigrant women who come as "independent applicants" experience in the workplace in Vancouver? (2) What does their work in Vancouver mean to them? And (3) What are the factors, in terms of cultural barriers, structural barriers or other elements, that affect these women in the process of job transferability? Suggestions to eliminate barriers are proposed, and recommendations for further studies are presented.

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