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Abstract

The line between hypervisibility and invisibility appears to be blurred for Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women in the workplace due to their race and gendered status (Lander and Santoro 2017). The intersection of race and gender exposes many BAME women to discrimination, structural inequalities, and the dynamics of tokenism, which can be a cause of intense job dissatisfaction (Stroshine and Brandl 2011).

It is often the case that discussions on the economic integration of immigrants focus mainly on how the socio-economic dynamics of the host country can limit them to certain labour market sectors. While this is a key area that must be discussed, “the interaction between the internal cultural and social differences and the wider structural and ideological processes of the country of residence” must also be interrogated (Anthias 1992: viii). Such deep exploration contributes to the examination of migrant women’s experiences of the intersection of gender, identity, and social mobility within the labour market and their personal lives. In this paper, based on individual accounts and drawing on intersectionality as an analytical framework (Crenshaw 1989; Bowleg 2012; Collins and Bilge 2020), I examine the multiple and complex interlocking structural inequalities suffered by immigrant women. This paper also presents how personal narratives can illuminate often hidden complexities in the workplace and labour market at large.

Based on three main themes, deskilling and downward mobility, settling for BBC2 jobs, and confronting discrimination in skilled employment, I examine the different ways migrant women engage with their stories about negotiating the labour market, which lay bare some of the limits and gaps between policies and practices in the post-industrial labour market. I present how the different ways they engage with narratives of their experiences in the workplace is very telling of the far-reaching impact their experiences have on their self-identity and well-being. As a feminist researcher, and one whose life is also marked by migration experiences, I go beyond examining the process of deskilling to exploring how participants make sense of their experiences, the impact on their lives, and their present sense of identity.

Note on the Author

Dr. Joy Ogbemudia holds a doctorate in Women’s Studies and is currently a lecturer at the Leeds Business School, Leeds Beckett University, UK. She is dedicated to teaching and research, and actively involved in public speaking and activism. Her research interests include gender, race, inequality, and theorising diaspora. Email: j.o.ogbemudia@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

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