Women Crossing Borders: The Changing Identities of Professional Chinese Migrant Women in Australia

Christina Ho


Around the western world, migration programs are increasingly targeting skilled professionals as governments view migration through the lens of economic efficiency. The majority of Australia’s migration intake now comprises skilled migrants, chosen for their human capital attributes. However, once skilled migrants arrive in Australia, they confront many barriers to re-establishing their careers in a new labour market. This paper uses qualitative and quantitative data to explore the consequences of this career disruption for professional women from Hong Kong, who often find themselves reorienting their identities and values away from the world of work and towards non-market-based spheres of life, such as family, leisure and self-development. This evolution challenges the Australian government’s economistic definitions of social citizenship, where migrants are seen almost exclusively as economic beings. Despite the government’s objectives, for many new arrivals, migration to Australia is an opportunity to explore other, non-economic, aspects of life.


migration, migrant women, human capital, identity

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5130/portal.v3i2.140