top of page
  • Writer's pictureDeepika Rastogi

Career Identity of South Asian Immigrant Women: Trailing Spouse

Majority of South Asian immigrant women come to Canada as “Trailing Spouses” along with their partners in hopes of pursuing a better quality of life. Research shows that a gendered pattern of migration exists where men migrate to countries for upward mobility and their wives “follow them”, thus earning them the status of trailing spouses or tied movers. However, these labels do not account for:

*inner resources and the coping skills of immigrant women

Both help immigrant women integrate themselves in a foreign land.

Research findings have shown that immigrant women face poor employment outcomes, regardless of their skills and professional experience in their home countries. As South Asian women, we are often socialized to prioritize family over personal needs. This is more applicable for immigrants coming from cultures with traditional gender roles, where men are considered as the primary caregiver and women as the primary caretaker. The intersectionality of immigration, gender and race puts them at a further disadvantage in terms of establishing themselves in the career domain. Most women leave their host country at the peak of their reproductive years which includes child bearing and child care responsibilities. This factor along with lack of social support system results in women facing challenges to advance their career goals at a pace they desire. Furthermore, devaluation of academic credentials, discriminatory practices in hiring and firing practices, lack of positive role models and language barriers pose additional hurdles for women as they navigate their career trajectories.

Tipping Point!

After the initial settling period, women often find themselves reflecting on their career potential and what they may have potentially left behind in terms of professional dreams.

This marks the tipping point for women, whereby:

*they proactively look for either parallels with their previous career goals or use this as an opportunity to explore new career pathways. This entails the painful process of grieving the loss of their previous career identities.

*With the grieving, we can pave the way for radical acceptance and being open to new possibilities.

Qualities such as perseverance, hard work, and a flexible and open mindset allow them to take agency and forge new pathways to re-establish themselves successfully as career women. This is consistent with research findings which shows that it takes minimally 10 years for new immigrants to realize their economic potential and to achieve comparable employment outcomes as their Canadian-born counterparts. So while validating the struggles and acknowledging the systemic barriers, it is important for women to draw upon their resiliencies to access strengths and supports.

If you are interested to learn more and to explore ways I can support you, please feel free to book a 20 minute no change initial consultation. Contact me through the booking link below or email


I am a Registered Psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO). I have over six years of experience in counselling individuals from diverse backgrounds and in different settings. This includes counselling services at a post-secondary institution, and community mental health agencies that provide addiction and mental health services to youth and their families. My work experience includes delivering individual, family, group, and crisis services to teens, university students, adults, and parents/caregivers. My clientele involves individuals with complex mental health issues, and presenting concerns related to depression, trauma, anxiety, family conflict, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, sexual/gender identity, low self-esteem, substance use, relationship issues, and emotional dysregulation. I use an integrative and trauma-informed perspective, incorporating elements of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Emotion Focussed Family Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Attachment and Mindfulness based approaches. In my work, I practice the following 4 Cs: being client-centred, compassionate, curious, and collaborative. I understand the importance of cultural identities and intersectionality on one’s mental health. Through my own lived experiences as a South Asian immigrant and being in close proximity with other immigrants, I have become aware of the psycho-social stressors that are rife within this community. Therefore, I have always strived to use a culturally responsive framework that allows me to appreciate clients for all aspects of their identity, values, and experiences. I know reaching out for support can be unnerving. Moreover, finding someone who is relatable and sensitive to your needs can feel even more challenging. I assure you that by visiting this website, you have taken a step in the right direction. Please book a free 15 minute consultation to see if I am a good fit and able to meet your needs. Outside of my work, things that keep me grounded include going for walks, trying out new recipes, listening to music, as well as spending time with family and friend

42 views0 comments


bottom of page