Expat Women: Challenges & Opportunities

Being an expat as a woman can come in two circumstances: either you move to follow your partner or you pursue your career objectives. In both cases, adapting to your new life and seizing the opportunities it brings along do not come easy.

Having helped expats for more than 10 years relocating from, to, and within China, ASI Movers has been discussing daily with women facing this kind of challenge, and has thus decided to explore what being a global woman means nowadays.

Following Someone: How To Build A Life Of Your Own

80% of partners are not employed during their spouse’s overseas assignment, which makes it more likely for women following their husbands abroad to not have a job when relocating.

Women in this situation face several challenges, the main ones being: integrating, finding a purpose, and finding occupations. These three aspects are indeed linked as having a job for instance makes it easier to merge into the local culture, socializing, and having a goal.

What To Do When Ending Up In This Situation?

  • Find local groups, associations, and activities you can join. Not only will it enable you to meet people, but it will also enable you to appreciate your new environment quicker as you discover popular places, and local culture, and meet like-minded individuals.
  • Take that time to go over your career objectives and rebuild your CV. A new place is often a fresh start, and it also enriches your perspectives and insights. Career opportunities and practices you had never thought about might emerge, and even if that is not the case, take advantage of this time you have to focus on yourself and what you want.
  • Learn new skills, including the local language. Knowing the idiom is the best way to feel at home and – bonus part – to take your international experience and knowledge to another level.

What To Do If You Want To Find A Job On-Site?

  • As stated before, take time to evaluate your objectives and expectations.
  • Compare the latter with the local market’s opportunities and trends, and reevaluate your prerogatives in accordance with them.
  • Rework your CV for it to be consistent with the country’s standards.
  • Ensure you are present on the social networks you use in the country (for instance WeChat in China).
  • Networkexpats associations and chambers of commerce are both very handful when it comes to meeting professionally active individuals and finding job opportunities (chambers of commerce often have CV and job opportunities sections).
  • Take care of the paperwork to comply with the local requirements in terms of employment.

Being A Professionally Active Woman: What Are The Trends?

If you are a female international assignee, then you are part of the minority as this category only represents 20% of the expat assignee population (RES Forum, 2017) and 97% of all organizations have more males sent abroad than females (even though there are more women than ever before taking international assignments). You might also have found a job on your own once on-site, without relying on your previous job’s proposition.

In both cases, professionally active expats women face specific challenges that their male counterparts do not. It indeed appears that women are culturally more prone to balance their family and work life (as they do at home). In addition to having to deal with new cultural and professional environments, they are more likely to take care of the family’s well-being in the new home.

Still, according to the RES Forum survey, women are also less likely to benefit from their international experience in the future than their male counterparts: while 39% of all international assignees are promoted or were offered job opportunities after one year of returning, respectively only 26% and 35% of women do.

However, if you choose to be a married/partnered woman abroad, it’s not all bad news. According to Yvonne McNulty – senior lecturer at Singapore University of Social Sciences, specializing in expatriates and human resources – couples in which the husband follows the wife abroad are more likely to complete a “successful expatriation” i.e. an expatriation that went as planned. The main reason given to explain such a trend is that – traditionally, and as already evoked – women tend to take their family more into consideration, while “family-related issues” account for 33% of assignment failure. She also argues that women are less prone to put pressure on their husbands to follow them abroad: if the decision is made, then the two of them are 100% on board, otherwise, the relocation is turned down.

While the first moments of your mobility as an expat woman can be hard, it often becomes easier when you take the initiative to familiarize yourself with the local practices and to become more active socially and/or professionally. Around the world, and on social networks, many initiatives made for expat women for expat women are flourishing, providing you a networking opportunities but also emotional and professional support.

Whether you are a man or a woman, single or married, already have a job or not, relocating to another country is always challenging. That is the reason why, at ASI Movers, we do our best to ensure you a peaceful moving process.

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