Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Gary Bischof


Only a few research studies have addressed the cultural transitions and career-related issues experienced by Chinese American women. These individuals represent a silent group whose career values, career choices, and vocational needs remain largely unexplored (Yang, 1991).

This qualitative study, using grounded theory methods, explored the career experiences, career development, and career decision-making of nine foreign-bornChinese American professional women from various career fields. The findings from the study are divided into two parts. The first part presents summaries of each study participant's career development, providing a context-rich description of each case. The second part of the findings offers the results from the data analyses at the cross-case level and describes an emerging theoretical scheme of this study.

The major findings of this study include the following: (a) Chinese American professional women's career development is comprised of significant lifeexperiences, their career decision-making processes, different career challenges and the management of these challenges, and their experience asprofessional women in the U.S. workforce; (b) contextual factors (e.g., cultural and gender issues, family influences, personal factors, social environmental variables, and other influential individuals) have strongly impacted these women's career decision-making processes; (c) the career challenges identified include language issues, cultural barriers, family-career conflicts and playing multiple roles, challenges from work demands, fewer promotions, a cultural glass ceiling, and lack of supportive resources; (d) to manage these career challenges, these women have developed positive coping attitudes and various coping strategies. Finally, (e) these women's overall experiences as professionals involve a dynamic process of negotiating personal and professional identities, facing and handling career challenges, managing multiple roles, a sense of fulfillment, acknowledging personal strengths, and focusing on the present and future of their careers.

Discussion of the study findings include relating the findings to existing research and theories regarding career development, implications of the findings, and the strengths and limitations of this study. Recommendations for future research and practice are also offered. This study sought to provide helpful information through the career stories of the participants, with the hope to contribute to the scarce body of knowledge regarding the career development of Chinese American professional women.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access