A Longitudinal Study of Organized Social Support for Highly-Skilled Immigrant Women’s Social and Professional Integration

Project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Despite the critical role of immigrants in sustaining Canadian economic growth, highly-skilled immigrants face a persistent challenge when integrating into the Canadian labour market, experiencing unemployment, underemployment, deskilling, and downward career mobility. Highly-skilled immigrant women face additional integration challenges based on their dependent status, domestic responsibilities, and gender based discrimination. 

The majority of qualitative investigations on this topic adopt a cross-sectional design; less is known about how newcomers adjust to the new society over time. The few studies that adopt a longitudinal design rely on quantitative measures and methods. We propose a qualitative longitudinal study to investigate the long term impact of organizational programs of support in the social and professional integration of highly-skilled immigrant women. In this project we will:

  1. Investigate the experiences of highly-skilled immigrant women for five years in Canada. We focus our recruitment in Ontario, which remains the largest immigrant-receiving province. We will describe the challenges highly-skilled immigrant women face when integrating socially and professionally, the sources of support they receive over time, and the strategies they use to overcome their challenges.
  2. Explore the role of different sources of support (ethnic groups, non-governmental organizations, employers, and members of the local community) in facilitating the social and professional integration of highly-skilled immigrant women. We will seek to better understand the types of support that are available, needed, and can be enhanced to facilitate integration (e.g., mentors, agents, non-parental childcare providers, etc.).
  3. Examine organizational practices, as understood by highly-skilled immigrant women, which help or hinder their integration in specific industries, sectors, and/or workplaces.
  4. Identify best practices for organizations counseling, hiring, managing, and supporting highly-skilled immigrant women (including ethnic groups, non-governmental organizations, and members of the local community).
  5. Extend existing migration, management, and feminist literatures by elaborating on the role of various types of organized social support in facilitating integration over time. Moreover, we will develop a model of organized social support by exploring the changing emphasis on different types/levels of support in adjustment and integration over time.
  6. Recommend interventions to the various stakeholders involved in highly-skilled immigrant women’s social and professional integration across the different stages of their career transition. 

In addition to important theoretical implications to the fields of management, migration studies, and gender studies, we also expect important practical implications as we identify targeted strategies to recruit, retain, and manage talent in an era of global competitiveness.