Women's Studies and Sociology
Population Studies Center
University of Michigan
Hi! My name is Lai Sze, and I am a doctoral candidate in the Joint Women's Studies and Sociology PhD Program at the University of Michigan. I am also a Trainee funded by a NICHD grant at the UM Population Studies Center and affiliate of the Center for Chinese Studies.
I am interested in the upward social mobility of young women over the life course. For women from developing societies, climbing the social ladder often requires migration into urban areas for education, work, cohabitation and marriage. I use a variety of methods and data to study prominent issues in migrant women's lives.
In my dissertation, Making it in China: How Young Rural Women Climb the Ladder in China, I study why young rural Chinese women migrate into urban areas to improve their lives. I conducted an ethnographic study of a village of 800 households in Northeast China, interviewing 40 young women between the ages of 18-29 participating in migration between the years of 2005-2009. Sampling participants based on locally defined SES categories, I interview women at different stages of the migration transition. These women leave home to participate in rural to urban migration in three primary ways; (i) through pursuing post-secondary education as students, (ii) employment as migrant labor, (iii) and marriage-cohabitation as a spouse or partner of someone already residing in an urban area. Women's preferences and choices about leaving home are influenced by perceptions about which migration options afford greater degrees of permanence, integration into urban society, and achievement of an image of "modernity".