Academic journal article College Student Journal

Japanese International Female Students' Experience of Discrimination, Prejudice, and Stereotypes

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Japanese International Female Students' Experience of Discrimination, Prejudice, and Stereotypes

Article excerpt

This qualitative study examined four Japanese international female college students' experience of discrimination, prejudice, and stereotypes in a predominately white university. Four themes emerged from the analysis of data: (1) overt forms of prejudice and discrimination; (2) stereotypes common to Asians; (3) stereotypes unique to the Japanese; and (4) coping with discrimination through avoidance. Participants' experiences were diverse and ranged from more blatant forms of discrimination to more subtle assaults such as one-dimensional stereotypes about Japanese culture. Most participants used avoidance strategies when they encountered discrimination. The limitations and implications of this study are discussed.


Numbering 565,039 and comprising the largest body of foreign students in the world (Institute of International Education, 2005), international students are a significant presence on many American university campuses. Although international and American college students share similar adjustment problems such as living away from their families for the first time, international students also experience unique stressors (Yoon & Portman, 2004). These stressors include language barriers, differences in academic systems, racial discrimination and culture shock (Furnham, & Bochner, 1986; Lin & Yi, 1997; Pedersen, 1991).

Yoon and Portman (2004) have observed that one weakness in the literature on international students is the tendency to lump them into one category, thus, ignoring within-group differences. For example, international students with racial and cultural backgrounds different than that of the White-majority student population in most universities are likely to have greater adjustment problems compared to European/White international students (cf., Church, 1982). In addition, the proportion of international students and the demographic diversity of the student population on a university campus are factors that might influence the experiences of international students. Further, the experiences of male and female international students might differ because of different gender role experiences (Yokomizo, 2002). In view of these concerns, the present study focused on the experiences of one specific international group: Japanese female students in a predominantly White university with relatively few international students.

During the mid 1990s, Japanese students comprised the largest international college student group in the United States (Institute of International Education, 2005). Despite small increases and slight decreases over the past few years, Japanese students remained the fourth largest international student group in the United States in the academic year of 2004/2005, with 42,215 students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities. Several recent studies have focused specifically on the adjustment experiences of Japanese international students in the United States. Yokomizo (2002) found that contextual factors such as globalization and the marginalized female social status in Japan influenced international Japanese students' motivation toward learning public speaking and English. In a study comparing the psychological adjustment of Japanese international students and that of American students in the Boston area, Kozu (2000) found that Japanese students showed greater overall psychological distress than their American counterparts. Finally, through interviews with fifteen Japanese international students in the San Francisco Bay Area, Ito (2004) investigated and identified five processes of cross-cultural adjustment: Building the Dream, Discovering, Surviving, Overcoming Obstacles, and Reflecting on the Journey.

Despite the above research interest in the experiences of Japanese international students, no known study has focused specifically on Japanese international students' perceived experiences of stereotypes and discrimination. Such a study might be important for several reasons. …

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