Associate member Dr. Aimi Muranaka is going to give an online talk in the AREA Ruhr Occasional Lectures Series on January 25, 2024 (14.15–15.45) with the following title:
“Sticking to norms or sticking out? Agency of Vietnamese female skilled migrants in the IT sector in Japan”
International migration has been touted that men initiate the mobility, and studies on female migration are chiefly centred on marriage migration and the highly gendered sectors, like care migration from Global “South” to traditional “North” migrant-receiving countries. However, few studies have been conducted on how female skilled migrants navigate in a male-dominant industry in a non-traditional immigrant country like Japan. This study focuses on Vietnamese IT professionals, an emerging foreign-national population in Japan, which is a “new” immigration country, and this paper investigates how Vietnamese female IT professionals navigate their working life as migrants in Japan. How do these female skilled workers use their agency and try to navigate the labour market under the divergent norms of Japan and Vietnam? Drawn from the ongoing ethnographic fieldwork data, the findings show that – depending on the types of firm they are employed in, the Vietnamese female workers implement different strategies. In an international or Vietnamese firm in Japan, the Vietnamese female IT professionals seek to “blend in” by sticking to the male-dominant norms in the IT sector. Whereas those who are employed in Japanese firms seek to be stuck out by drastically deviating from the gender norms expected of (Japanese) female employees. Their relatively stable employment contract partially allows Vietnamese IT professionals to seek to change their situations. However, this study argues that they are forced to navigate under the intricately layered gender and other norms in the labour market.
Aimi Muranaka is a post-doc at the Institute of East-Asian Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. After completing her PhD. at the same university, currently, she is working for a collaborative research project “Qualification and Skill in the Migration Process of Foreign Workers in Asia (QuaMaFA)” funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Using qualitative research methods, her current individual project investigates how Vietnamese IT professionals mobilise in Japan and Vietnam’s labour market. Her research interest is the marketisation of migration, skills/qualifications in migration and brokerage in Asia. Some of her recent publications include, “Being a Foreigner During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Researcher Positionality in Online Interviews“ (forthcoming, Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung) and „‚Framing‘ and ‚Packaging‘ of Foreign Skilled Workers: Diversity of the Intermediary Actors in the Cross-Border Labour Market Between Japan and Vietnam“ (2023, Globalizations).
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