Highly skilled migrant women : a career development framework

16 Mar 2012

PURPOSE – This paper aims to explore and interpret the pre-migration and post-migration career development and success of highly skilled professional migrant women with special reference to The Netherlands. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH – An exploratory approach rooted in a phenomenological perspective was followed. Two in-depth Interactive Qualitative Analysis (IQA) focus group sessions were held with a total of 21 self-initiated expatriate (SIE) women. FINDINGS – An integrated career development framework proposed in this study indicates that individual drivers such as identity, social support and life phase play a role in women's pre-migration and post-migration career success or exits. Identity embeddedness, host country culture, openness to foreigners and existing prejudices and stereotypes against women seems magnified for women from outside the host country. RESEARCH IMPLICATIONS/LIMITATIONS – The research results may lack generalisability, therefore more research is encouraged to further test the proposed framework. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS – Organisations should re-think existing systems for retaining highly skilled women migrants. Specific personnel management requirements and practical recommendations are provided for HR policy development with regard to migrant women. ORIGINALITY/VALUE – An integrative approach and framework for understanding the career development decisions of professional and highly skilled migrant women who are also self-initiated (SIE) is proposed. Insight is provided into the personal adjustment and professional developmental experiences of a group of women often overlooked by the research community.