Skilled migrant women needed for research project

Massey Business School PhD candidate Nimeesha Odedra.

I thought I would find a similar role when I got here….they wanted New Zealand experience which I didn’t expect, because the principles of marketing are the same everywhere in the world.” Liz, a marketing executive from South Africa.

 “I kind of depend, rely on my husband. [We are] based in Devonport and it is quite isolated, and not many Asians, especially Koreans, so I had kind of a very hard time when I was pregnant because I could not drive. So I was stuck in Devonport….” Min, a psychologist from Korea.

I think they thought I was uneducated, they thought I was not very smart….even silly things like automated systems didn’t understand my accent….I practiced, listening to the way Kiwis speak and then mimicking them, even while I was in the car driving, saying the word over and over.…” Janet, head of development at an IT company, from South Africa.

Liz, Min and Janet (pseudonyms to protect participant identity) are part of the increasing feminisation of skilled international migration, a topic that Massey University PhD candidate Nimeesha Odedra is exploring for her thesis. She says skilled migrant women comprise almost half of the skilled migrants approved for permanent residency in New Zealand, but many struggle to find employment.

“In some cases, they go from being well-educated and well-paid professionals in their home countries to becoming stay-at-home spouses or part-time/low-skilled workers,” Ms Odedra says. “This is a vast pool of talent that is going to waste. We can see this in the stories of Liz, Min and Janet.”

Skilled migrant women are a critical and under-researched source of competitive advantage in today’s labour market. The under-utilisation of skilled migrant women is estimated to cost Canada over C$7 billion per year; the cost to the New Zealand economy is currently unknown but likely to be significant.

More research needed to ensure skills are not wasted

“The limited research in this area has identified some of the barriers that impact the careers of skilled migrant women – but there are still many aspects of their experiences to be explored,” Ms Odedra says. “The objective of my research is to provide more in-depth understanding and meaning to the career experiences of skilled migrant women.

“Having a better understanding of how their career experiences unfold will allow better interventions and policies to be put into place to ensure skills are not wasted or under-utilised.”

Ms Odedra’s research is an opportunity for skilled migrant women to tell their stories and have their voices heard. She is currently seeking skilled migrant women who have lived in New Zealand for more than two years and less than 10 years.

Participant interviews will be completely confidential and anonymised, and take no more than 30-45 minutes. Each participant will be offered a report of the findings from the study. If you are interested in sharing your experience by participating in an interview with Ms Odedra, please email her directly at:

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