Children of the Knowledge Economy: Gendered Experiences of STEM Youth from Skilled Migrant Families in Canada

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 19:01
Oral Presentation
Alex BING, Carleton University, Canada
This paper explores the gendered experiences of East and South Asian youth from skilled migrant families in the secondary and undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) educational settings in Canada. Feminist scholars have made note of both the gendering of skilled migration (Boucher, 2007; Meares, 2010) as well as the gendering of STEM careers (Faulkner 2007), but these two lines of inquiry remain disconnected. My study asks three questions which will ultimately connect the gendering of migration and the gendering of STEM. [1] First, I ask whether the gender-asymmetric de-skilling of skilled migrant labour can impact the identity formation of the children in the migrant family. Literature on migration has in recent years recognized the gendered nature of skilled migration, especially how skilled migrant women are more likely to be de-skilled than skilled migrant men. Thus if skilled migrant families come with children, it is worthwhile to ask whether the career identifications of these children could be impacted. [2] Secondly, I ask whether the daughters of these families face additional contradictory cultural messaging with respect to STEM education and careers. In particular, when working with racialized women in STEM from the East and South Asian diaspora, it is worthwhile to ask whether contradictions between STEM-affirming racial stereotypes and STEM-averse gender stereotypes create persistent double binds, whether this troubles our ability to celebrate the existence of minority women in STEM as simple success narratives, and whether there are stories of chronic suffering behind the cases of success. [3] Thirdly, I ask whether these young women can in fact rely on the male STEM members of their own ethnic group for solidarity, in the face of the competition-based reward structure of STEM curricula as well as the unique challenges faced by Asian men in STEM.