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Crushed Hopes

Underemployment and Deskilling among Skilled Migrant Women

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This report is a collective publication comprising a review of international literature on the subject of migrant deskilling and underemployment from a gender perspective and three empirical case studies from Switzerland, Canada and the United Kingdom. It explores the disproportionate difficulties skilled migrant women can face in transferring their skills and finding employment commensurate with their education when relocating to a new country. The case studies highlight situations in which migratory status and labour market dynamics can combine to constrain skilled and highly skilled migrant women to low-skilled occupations despite their often high human capital. They also analyse the impact that such occupational downgrading can have on migrant women’s well-being and the strategies that women can adopt to regain a professional status.

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The psychosocial impact of underemployment in the lives of skilled migrant women working in Geneva, Switzerland: An empirical study

The migration of women, either independently or to follow a family member, is a phenomenon that is deeply shaping the population characteristics of most European countries. As was estimated in 2009, 52.3 per cent of the over 69 million international migrants living in Europe were women (UN DESA, Population Division, 2009). With girls and women enjoying increased access to education in many countries around the world, a great proportion of women are well-educated and many hold university degrees (Rubin et al., 2008). Despite this relatively high human capital, women migrants are faced with important difficulties in their social and economic integration into their host societies (Piper, 2007). In particular, access to employment opportunities consistent with their levels of education and professional experience and the recognition of their credentials and skills are of particular relevance, as a combination of gender and socio-economic dynamics can limit migrant women to certain labour market sectors or occupations traditionally considered “women’s work”, such as domestic work, care services and catering, regardless of their educational background (Sassen, 1994; Piper, 2007).

English

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