Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Educated Immigrant Women Workers Doing Well with Change: Helping and Hindering Factors

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Educated Immigrant Women Workers Doing Well with Change: Helping and Hindering Factors

Article excerpt

The authors investigated the strategies that helped or hindered 10 immigrant women workers to do well with change that affected their work. A total of 182 incidents were extracted and grouped into 9 categories: personal beliefs/traits/values, taking action, skills/education, personal challenges, self-care, relationships/support, government/community resources, work environment, and contextual challenges. Results support and extend contentions that both internal/personal and external factors are key successful adaptation to change for immigrant women. Implications for research and practice are discussed. Counseling recommendations are offered for individuals who are struggling with change.

It is well-documented that immigrants are needed to fill Canada's shriruking labor force (McMulIin & Cooke, 2004), and they are being encouraged to move to Canada (Grant & Sweetman, 2004). Immigrants with specific education and framing in areas such as nursing, health carej and sciences are being targeted to fill these and other skill shortages (McMulIin & Cooke, 2004). The minority population in Canada has quadrupled in the past 20 years (Tran, 2004). Decades ago, the majority of Canadian immigrants were Europeans. However, more recently, the fece of Canadian immigrants has shifted, with more immigrants arriving from Asia, thé Middle East, Latin America, and Africa (Tran, 2004). Some researchers (Bauer, 2ÖÖ; Kadkhoda, 2002) have suggested that after immigrants arrive in Canada, employers often do not recognize their qualifications, therefore, these individuals must resort to taking low -paying jobs. Additionally, studies (e.g., Hum & Simpson, 2004) have shown that after they enter the country, immigrants experience an earning disadvantage when compared with Canadian-born workers. Thus, immigrants must deal with both the transitions and adjustment involved in moving to a new country along with the unpredictable and changing workforce opportunities and lower economic earning potential that currently characterize the labor market.

How then do immigrants manage these transitions and adjustments that have an impact on all aspects of their iivesr The career transitions literature (e.g., Bridges, 1991; Goodman, Schlossberg, & Anderson, 2006) has indicated that transition theories are useful for understanding the general population's experience of the transition process. According to Bridges's (1991) theory, transition is a psychological experience that can be difficult for some to manage. Transition has three stages: (a) ending, losing, letting go; (b) the neutral zone; and (c) the new beginning (Bridges, 1991). Goodman et al. (2006) also conceptualized the transition experience as a challenging process, as evidenced by their focus on building and identifying coping resources in the second stage of their theory. Consistent with transition theories, research (e.g., Arnundson, Borgen, Jordan, & Erlebach, 2004; Ebberwein, Krieshok, Ulven, & Presser, 2004) has shown that some people struggle with transitions and experience a sense of powerlessness and emotional strain, but others thrive during transition by being planful and realistic and by anticipating possible challenges. According to Goodman et ài. 's (2006) theory, these Contradictory outcomes could be a result of variation in individuals' coping resources. More research is needed to elucidate how people are successful in dealing with transitions. Our research study aims to fill this gap.

Studies (e.g., DiCicco-Bloom, 2004; Waters, 2002) extending the examination of career transitions to the immigrant population have illustrated experiences of downward mobility, feelings of isolation and frustration, and the necessity for retraining as examples of factors that inhibited immigrants' successful transition to the workforce. Research on immigrants' adjustment and acculturation (e.g., Kadkhoda, 2002; Westwood & Ishiyama, 1991 ) has primarily highlighted the barriers and challenges to adaptation, which include discrimination, culture shock, second language anxiety, and changes in family dynamics. …

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