Family v.s. Career: Negotiating Experience and Mobility of Chinese Immigrant Mothers in Toronto

Monday, 16 July 2018: 11:30
Oral Presentation
Wing Yeung Vivian LEUNG, University of Toronto, Canada
Hsin-Yun PENG, York University, Canada
Marxist feminists suggested that women’s engagement in the domestic sphere widens the inequality between genders. Power of full­time mothers is diminished through unpaid family caretaking and their full citizenship participation is covertly denied in the capitalist welfare society. Although previous studies has already discussed how childcare burden discourages mothers from embarking on career development and engaging in the community, the intersectionality of gender and early immigrant experiences is still missing in the literature.

This study aims to explore the lived experiences of Chinese mothers in Toronto regarding to their child care, transition and support network. In the larger project, we interviewed 61 immigrant participants from Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as some Canadian­born Chinese participants. Seven of the overall participants were immigrant mothers who had gone through child care at their early immigration stage. From these interviews, we found that most of the interviewed immigrant mothers had completed college or above and had a full­time job in their place of origin. However, after immigration, they changed their career plan due to the challenges such as child care, employment gap, language barrier and family concerns. Some participants reported that they used to have abundant support to parenthood back home, but immigration impacted their support network, which in turn changed their career decisions. Findings provide better understanding on the intersectionality among child care, employment and immigration of Chinese immigrant mothers. Strategies they employed to negotiate between child care and employment also revealed their agency and mobility during the transition process.