The Unspoken Dilemma of Expat Wives

Gender Roles and Relations within Taiwanese Expatriate Families in Singapore

In: Translocal Chinese: East Asian Perspectives
Chia-Yuan Huang PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, University College London, U.K.,

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The majority of Taiwanese expatriates in Singapore are working in male-dominated sectors such as high-tech industries. It is common for Taiwanese male expatriates to choose to bring their family members along to the host country. In order to accompany their husbands to Singapore, these expatriate wives must give up their careers in Taiwan. Some of them become stay-at-home wives while others seek to rebuild their careers in Singapore. This study investigates how Taiwanese expatriate wives juggle their work and family commitments and identifies how they negotiate gender-role expectations relating to both family and work. The results show that this group of highly qualified Taiwanese women who have a history of strong professional achievement and have levels of human capital similar to their husbands still have not managed to break the shackles of traditional gender roles. Instead of advancing their own careers, they are expected to put their husbands’ careers first.

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