In the global race for skilled immigrants, governments compete for workers. In pursuing such individuals, governments may incidentally discriminate on gender grounds. Existing gendered differences in the global labour market related to life course trajectories, pay gaps and occupational specialisation are refracted in skilled immigration selection policies. This book analyses the gendered terrain of skilled immigration policies across 12 countries and 37 skilled immigration visas. It argues that while skilled immigration policies are often gendered, this outcome is not inevitable and that governments possess scope in policy design. Further, the book explains the reasons why governments adopt more or less gender aware skilled immigration policies, drawing attention to the engagement of feminist groups and ethnocultural organisations in the policy process. In doing so, it utilises evidence from 128 elite interviews undertaken with representatives of these organisations, as well as government officials, parliamentarians, trade unions and business associations in Australia and Canada over the period 1988 through to 2013. Presenting the first book-length account of the global race for talent from a gender perspective, Gender, migration and the global race for talent will be read by graduate students, researchers, policy-makers and practitioners in the fields of immigration studies, political science, public policy, sociology, gender studies and Australian and Canadian studies.
The introduction establishes the relevance of a study on the gender analysis of the global race for talent. It sets out the medium-N analysis of twelve immigration countries, undertaken in the first part of the book. It then defends the choice of Australia and Canada as detailed case studies of this phenomenon in the second half of the book. It establishes a venue shopping public policy approach to analyse the topic. The chapter ends by setting out the structure and method adopted in the book.
Chapter 1 defends the need for new indicators of ‘gender awareness’ within skilled immigration policy. It draws upon research from feminist industrial relations, sociology, economics and intersectional feminist studies, to this end. The chapter focuses upon three key areas of the scholarship: Gender mainstreaming processes and institutions, life course differences between men and women and gendered definitions of ‘skill’, bringing in feminist critiques of human capital theory that predominates within skilled immigration debates.
This chapter presents a unique international dataset (the ‘GenderImmi dataset’) to analyse skilled immigration policies across twelve key OECD countries and thirty-seven visa types. Drawing upon the framework established in Chapter 1, three key areas of ‘gender awareness’ are considered: i) the extent to which gender mainstreaming processes are incorporated into policy-making, ii) the ways in which the different life courses of men and women are acknowledged in skilled immigration policy design, and iii) the (gendered) definitions of ‘skill’ within such policies. Countries such as Canada and Denmark that undertake gender audits of their immigration laws or admit applicants in female-dominated occupations such as the caring fields perform better in terms of gender awareness than countries like Austria, Australia, the United Kingdom and Ireland that do not undertake such audits or that focus narrowly on selecting immigrants from male-dominated Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professions.
After considering other theoretical approaches, this chapter sets out a venue shopping framework to understand variation in skilled immigration policies from a gender perspective. The chapter argues that the engagement of feminist and immigrant associations (‘diversity-seeking groups’) in key policy venues is essential to ensure gender aware skilled immigration policies are achieved. Such venues include feminist bureaucratic networks within government, parliamentary committees, federalist structures and the courts. These institutional sites provide a vehicle for activists to contest immigration policies that might otherwise be determined exclusively within the core executive.
This chapter presents the first of four case studies on Australia and Canada. It assesses cuts to family-based immigration that occurred in the two countries from 1988 onwards. It argues that the restrictions on family reunification alone did not lead to less gender-aware policies, as spouses who previously came via family reunification channels had the opportunity to enter as the partners of skilled immigrants. Instead, it was the cuts to extended family categories that held the most substantial gender implications. Concentration of policy-making within the core executive insulated government from migrant opposition to these changes.
Chapter 5 considers the second case study – changes in skilled immigration points tests in Australia and Canada over the decade from 1993 to 2003. This Chapter argues that the points test adopted in Canada was more gender aware, an outcome informed by the engagement of diversity-seeking activists in the policy process and the establishment of a gender-based analysis unit within Citizenship Immigration Canada. The absence of gender considerations in Australia relates to the tight administrative control over the policy process by the immigration ministry and its reliance on regulatory instruments to achieve key policy goals.
Chapter 6 demonstrates that over time, Canadian policy-makers have adopted many of the methods of bureaucratic control developed in Australia during earlier periods, leading to less gender-aware policies in the permanent skilled immigration field in Canada. There has also been a growing bifurcation of “his” and “her” occupational modes of entry within skilled immigration programmes in both countries. Activists are also increasingly blocked from engagement in policy processes, due to the bureaucratic nature of such reforms.
The gendered terrain of temporary economic immigration, 2007–13
This Chapter consider the rise of temporary economic immigration in both countries since the mid-2000s. These policies respond to this changing economic and industrial context, which has been accompanied by gender stratification within temporary flows: Women are underrepresented in skilled temporary flows in both countries. However, in Canada, low-skilled temporary schemes have become an important avenue for the entrance of female immigrants, albeit with fewer rights than those entering on highly skilled temporary visas. Some attempts have been made by activists in Canada to secure greater labour rights for these low-skilled temporary immigrants. Australia, in contrast has eschewed low-skilled temporary immigration.
Chapter 8 considers the internal dynamics of diversity seeking organisations and the implications for their engagement in skilled immigration policy processes. Undertaking an audit of all major organisations in the field in Australia and Canada, this chapter demonstrates the importance of funding diversity, coalition building and a flat organisational structure for diversity-seeking group strength, itself a necessary precursor to venue shopping. The chapter concludes by considering the practical policy and theoretical implications of the gender analysis presented in the book.