COVID-19 and Immigrant Women

Academic Abstract:
Despite immigrant-receiving countries’ need for skilled professionals to meet labor demands, research suggests that many skilled migrants undergo deskilling, downward career mobility, underemployment, unemployment, and talent waste, finding themselves in low-skilled occupations that are not commensurate to their education and experience. Skilled immigrant women face additional gendered disadvantages, including a disproportionate domestic burden, interrupted careers, and gender segmentation in occupations and organizations. Our study aims to explore how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is impacting skilled immigrant women’s labor market outcomes and work experiences. We draw on 50 in-depth questionnaires with skilled immigrant women to elaborate on immigrant experiences of inequality during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic increased immigrant women’s experience of inequality by pushing them towards unemployment, lower-skilled, or less stable employment. Most immigrant women had their career trajectory delayed, interrupted, or reversed due to layoffs, decreased job opportunities, and increased domestic burden. The pandemic’s gendered nature and the reliance on technology-mediated communication heightened immigrant women’s challenges due to limited social support and increased family responsibilities. We add to the conversation of inequality exacerbated under pandemic conditions by contextualizing pre-pandemic literature on immigrant work integration to the experiences of inequality in a pandemic environment. Also, we contribute a better understanding of gender dynamics, informing the COVID-19 socioeconomic climate.

This study was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership Engage Grant (892-2019-0024)

Keywords: Women immigrants, Employment, COVID-19

Related Links

Research Team:

  • Merridee Bujaki, Professor of Accounting, Sprott School of Business
  • Amrita Hari, Associate Professor of Gender Studies, The Pauline Jewett Institute of Women’s and Gender Studies
  • Liam Hoselton, Master’s Student, Sprott School of Business
  • Aliya Kuzhabekova, Postdoctoral Fellow, the Centre for Research on Inclusion at Work (CRIW)
  • Luciara Nardon, Associate Professor of International Business, Sprott School of Business
  • Hui Zhang, PhD Candidate, Sprott School of Business


“Immigrant Women are Falling Behind During the COVID-19 Pandemic” published in The Conversation.