Skilled Migrant Women Workers from Germany and Developing Countries: Navigating Career and Networking Challenges and Opportunities in Scotland

The purpose of this research is to interrogate career and networking-related challenges for skilled migrant women employees in Scotland. We aim to investigate the individual experiences, career aspirations and needs of skilled migrant women from a developed country (Germany) and developing countries on networking. This research intends to provide insights into gender diversity and network literature while generating applicable managerial implications for organizations and women to succeed in their careers. Grounding our research in postcolonial feminist theory, we plan to conduct in-depth semi-structured interviews with women who had migrated and are currently working in Scotland. This study contributes to the global mobility literature by developing a postcolonial feminist reading of meanings and issues in women’s careers and taking a gendered perspective on the conditions of skilled female immigrants. It poses the research question: What are the similarities and differences between the networking experiences of skilled migrant women from a developed country and developing countries?

One of the reasons for gender inequality in economic opportunity and career success is the difference in the way women and men form and benefit from networks. Networking benefits women’s careers less than men’s as women have limited access to beneficial networks compared to men and suffer from unequal network characteristics and network returns. This is a major obstacle to achieving gender equality in economic opportunity and career success. Because effective networking can enable access to valuable career-building sources such as new information, insight, advice, technical knowledge and emotional support for an individual. 

The benefits of networking are particularly crucial for skilled migrant women (SMW). Skilled migrants (SMs) can be defined as “university-educated people who have moved on a permanent basis to work in countries other than their own”. Until now research has identified several challenges that skilled migrants often face such as working in jobs unrelated to their education and experience, overqualification, involuntary reduced work, precarious and unfavourable working conditions. For skilled migrant women, these challenges are compounded by the difficulties of being a woman in the workplace. For example, societies’ gender-stereotypic expectations and internalized gender stereotypes cause women not to benefit from career-related opportunities as much as men. As illuminating as previous studies have been, we know relatively little about the female-specific barriers faced by skilled migrant women, especially in networking context.

By integrating management research perspective and post-colonial feminist perspective, we aim to unveil insights on strategies, facilitators and barriers in forming and benefiting from networks. Broadly, feminist frameworks work to address issues revolving gender relations, social justice and equality across different societal, national and organizational contexts. There are a range of feminist theories with each ontological and epistemological assumptions on conceptualizing, analysing, and recommending societal and organizational changes on gender. Postcolonial feminist scholarship has been vigilant and wary of feminist ideologies and practices emanating from Western, white, and middle-class positions of privilege as the way to understand the experiences of women in the Global South and speak for or speak about them.

Postcolonial feminist methodologies suggest a grounding of feminist ways of thinking to unpack the lived experiences of women globally and answers the call from management research stream to offer a more inclusive field that takes serious considerations of differences across ethnicity, race, history, religion, culture, and understandings of gender.

This study proposes a postcolonial feminist reading and analysis of the interviews of skilled migrant workers to understand women’s experiences through two analytical concepts, feminist solidarity model and transnational literacy. It offers an alternative way of reading women’s circumstances under the backdrop of global migration in Scotland. This situates the driving research questions in transnational contexts and enables a more grounded analysis of representations of women and their construction. The context of this study is Scotland and Germany, and we narrow our focus to skilled migrant workers from developing countries and Germany, starting our search for participants from Lower Saxony. To interrogate more about networking practices in Scotland among skilled migrant women, it is important for our study to explore the reasons behind the migration of the women into Scotland. We believe that this holds great importance for work and employment relations in Scotland and Germany, especially Lower Saxony as the countries navigate migration policies and practices as well as workers’ needs and barriers.  

Due to the ever-present globalisation, networking practices are constructed as important for strategies of adapting to new work environments and sharing of ‘best practices’ are growing for women workers. The study seeks to contribute to the management and organisation studies by incorporating insights from postcolonial feminist theory, specifically the feminist solidarity model and transnational literacy. There is a growing need for more empirical work in critical diversity management especially within more diverse demographic, historic, social, institutional, and geopolitical contexts. This is especially important for research to move further than inclusion and equity opposition, and rather, reconceptualising relations of gender, race, and class in globalized and transnational organisational settings. This study is interested in contributing to this gap, specifically looking into micro- analysis of SMWs’ from Germany and developing countries. Finally, the study hopes to reinforce the call for further theorising of representation by grounding on experiences and the social location of women in different communities, especially women particularly affected by global ideological construction.

Through this study we aim to provide applicable implications for individuals, organizations, societies and policy makers. First, we aim to contribute to the career development of skilled migrant women in Scotland through unveiling the best practices that are genuinely useful as they are the strategies that are being used by other skilled migrant women. Second, our potential findings can be particularly useful for organizations that operate in Scotland (e.g. local small-medium enterprises, headquarters or subsidiaries of multinational enterprises) to attract female talent. Organisations can support skilled migrant women to overcome the challenges they face by improving the facilitators that we aim to reveal. Third, we aim to create a positive impact on society by providing insights through our findings on e.g. how to create a welcoming climate for skilled migrants and how to attract further skilled migrants for ensuring continuing economic prosperity, demographic sustainability and strengthening the society.  

Project Owners

“Our research project is about establishing and benefiting from valuable networks. The Lower Saxony – Scotland Tandem Fellowship Programme enables us as researchers to establish and utilise the very networks that are the subject of our research.”

Alara Yaman

“Being a part of this project as an Fellow is a fantastic opportunity to collaborate and benefit from the academic networks from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Göttingen, especially offering a nuanced context of studying global mobility and ethics of work in a transnational setting.”

Amira Rahmat

Alara Yaman


Alara Yaman is a research associate and doctoral student at the University of Goettingen, Germany. Her research focuses on diversity, equality and inclusion in the workplace, women’s career advancement and cross-cultural management. She obtained her Master’s degree in International Business at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany where she also worked as a teaching and research assistant while she was studying. Before moving to Germany, she gained practical experience in the fields of Human Resources, Marketing and Product Management in several companies during and after her undergraduate studies in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Amira Rahmat


Amira Rahmat graduated with a degree in Actuarial Science at Heriot-Watt University, Scotland before moving to South Korea to study for a Master’s degree in International Business at Ewha Womans University. On graduation, Amira worked as a case researcher, teaching assistant, and MBA programme manager at the Asia School of Business in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. At the same time, she held positions as a consultant for UN agencies, working on gender data and survey reporting. This culminated in her pursuit of an MSc degree in Gender Research at the London School of Economics. She is currently a doctoral researcher in the Organisation Studies group at the University of Edinburgh Business School. Her research focuses on corporate social responsibility, gender, and postcolonial feminism.