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Narratives of Chinese female immigrant professionals: Factors that affect their career development and strategies used for career adjustment

Yuting Shih, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study of the narratives of Chinese female immigrant professionals explores factors that affect their career development and strategies they use for career adjustment in the United States. Narrative analysis, using semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions, was employed to interview eight Chinese immigrant women who are wives and mothers, have degrees in higher education, have worked in professional fields, and have immigrated from People's Republic China to the U.S. between 1984–1992. The analysis, conducted with a feminist perspective, revealed that U.S. immigration regulations, gender relations and family responsibilities, language and cultural background, discriminatory practice, field of specialization and skill transferability, and opportunities offered by the U.S. are the six major forces that shape the vocational experiences of Chinese female immigrant professionals in the U.S. Derived from the women's narratives, the study also identified strategies that the women used to meet the challenges they encountered in the U.S. These strategies include: (1) some helpful attitudes, (2) tactics to encounter immigration restrictions, (3) using resources in the larger society, (4) tips to improve English skills, (5) help from extended family, (6) connecting with ethnic based network, and (7) family separation as an adaptive strategy. Even though most women in this study seemed to manage to tackle the many challenges facing them, there are also concerns and issues emerging from the narratives that deserve careful attention. Areas of concerns and needs involve disruption from prolonged family separation, inequality in traditional gender relations, parenting issues, limited social integration, how to deal with prejudice and discrimination, and heightened stress level. Both clinical and research implications are also discussed in detail.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Shih, Yuting, "Narratives of Chinese female immigrant professionals: Factors that affect their career development and strategies used for career adjustment" (2005). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3163709.