Is it even worth working as a trailing spouse?
Where to find more information for expat women?
Find out from other working expat mums, trailing spouses and expat women what it’s like for them. We have brought together the key issues and where to go for more information.
Most trailing spouses do not work during their time oversees
A study by the Permits Foundation in 2008, cited in Economist report: up or out next moves for the modern expatriate, found that 82% of trailing spouses or partners had a university degree and 90% of them were forced to relinquish their own jobs in order to pursue their partner’s move abroad. Of these 90%, only 35% worked during their time living overseas.
The Brookfield Global Relocation Survey 2011 found that worldwide only 12% of partners of expats previously employed were able to find a job in their new home country. Many people like to point out that perhaps this was a personal choice. But the survey finds that actually 75% of the partners who were surveyed and not working while living abroad would like to be doing so.
There are no figures available on mums in particular, but I am sure there are even less working expat mums.
Barriers to working for trailing spouses
It’s not easy to work as an expat partner or expat mum. When working, expat mums face all the well-known issues all working mums face: juggling work and family life, feeling guilty, regaining confidence after a period out of work, finding flexible work, finding childcare and lack of opportunities due to the recession.
However there are specific issues that are barriers to work for expat partners, and expat-mums.
How to overcome the barriers for trailing spouses
Regardless of whether you are male or female, being a trailing spouse can be extremely challenging and stressful. According to McNulty, a consultant who specializes in mobility issues, the most important thing for a trailing spouse to do is to take control of their situation and create their own opportunities. Speaking in the New York Times she discussed her own research: “What I found in my research is that almost all spouses face an identity crisis, but only about 10 to 15 percent did something about it, by becoming authors, getting an MBA or starting businesses,” she said. Most “felt they were victims, with no control.”
This, to me, shows that finding something meaningful to do is vital for your own sense of fulfilment. It’s key to be aware of the barriers, but they shouldn’t stop you. They can be overcome, and will certainly lead to a more fulfilling life.
It really is vital to take the steps necessary to create a mindset that’s meaningful; reassert your identity as something portable, transient and more respectable and enriched than ever before. – Stephanie Katz of Expat Arrivals
More information and links for expat women and trailing spouses
Resources for expat-women and trailing spouses looking to work:
- expatwomen – motivational articles, guidance and information on jobs, careers and starting your own business for expat women and accompanying partners, lots of advice for those who are the leading partner
- expatinfodesk – practical advice on avoiding the pitfalls of being the jobless better half
- expatarrivals – some articles for accompanying spouses that are looking for work
- Jo Parfitt – A Career in Your Suitcase: The Expat and Trailing Spouse’s Guide to a Career on the Move – book and website with case-studies, tips, links, exercises and articles to help you find and pack your perfect portable career
- Recruit for spouses – help spouses of the British Forces find employment, offer jobs, advice and support
- Thriving Abroad – Coaching, Courses and Info for accompanying partners (and expat employers)
- Robin Pascoe – A movable marriage – Great book with lots of tips and guidance from someone whose done it all before
- Trailing spouse net – information and blogs on job search, portable careers and support organizations for accompanying partners
- The trailing spouse - Academic Research and Publications on Expatriation and Global Mobility
Key articles for expat women and trailing spouses