Essentialism and intersectionality in the selection and recruitment of staff: the devaluation of migrant women’s skills in France and Italy Identities, 2023, DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2023.2275906



While skilled migration has become one of the most acceptable ways of entering Western European countries, the skills of migrant women with tertiary education continue to be undervalued in labour markets. To understand why these women are confined to the bottom of the employment structure, we argue that it is necessary to analyse how essentialism, based on the intersection of gender and racialization, influenced by colonial imaginaries and global inequalities, shapes recruiters’ representations. The article is based on multi-sited fieldwork which consisted of 52 in-depth interviews conducted in France and Italy with migrant women, recruiters, and social workers. Our analysis emphasizes that intersectional essentialism influence recruiters’ assessments of education, work experience, soft skills, and language skills while it reinforces the eroticization of migrant women’s bodies, ultimately leading to the devaluation of migrant women’s capacities.