Chinese Immigrant Mothers Negotiating Family and Career : Intersectionality and the Role of Social Support

Vivian Wing Yeung LEUNG*, Yidan ZHU, Hsin Yun PENG, A. Ka Tat TSANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Using an intersectional approach, this study examines Chinese immigrant mothers' negotiation between career and family and the role of social support. Based on eight individual interviews with Chinese immigrant mothers in Toronto, we found that their employment opportunities were highly limited by the intersection of immigration status and gender. A model is proposed to explain the effect of various factors on the mothers' career decisions. Three core factors - employment difficulties, child-care responsibility and financial need - had a major influence on the mothers' cost-and-benefit analyses when they made their career decisions. Furthermore, the adequacy and effectiveness of the mothers' social and community support were affected by their immigration status. Class differences and the association between career decisions and integration are also discussed. The findings suggest that immigrant mothers experience a unique situation because of the intersectionality of their multiple identities. Researchers and community organisations should recognise the distinct circumstances and needs of this group in order to achieve comprehensive understanding and provide appropriate services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)742-761
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number3
Early online date8 Sep 2018
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Childcare
  • gender
  • immigration
  • mothering
  • social support


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