Due to harsh and imbalanced immigration laws, Chicago's Chinese immigrant community was largely male. In 1910, only 3.6% of Chinese immigrants were women.

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Most of the Chinese immigrants intended only short stays, so they were willing to work long hours at sometimes dangerous jobs to send money home.

The severe shortage of women made normal family life impossible for many Chinese, delaying the growth of a second generation of Chinese Americans and contributing to the sense among Americans that Chinese were "alien." While anti-Chinese sentiment was not as strong in Chicago as on the West Coast, it nevertheless significantly shaped where Chinese lived and worked.