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"I Have To Be Everything" Voices of International Working Mothers: Negotiating Work-Life Balance in the United States


Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/20800

"I Have To Be Everything" Voices of International Working Mothers: Negotiating Work-Life Balance in the United States

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Title: "I Have To Be Everything" Voices of International Working Mothers: Negotiating Work-Life Balance in the United States
Author: Xu, Qingjing
Advisor(s): Lutgen-Sandvik, Pamela
Committee Member(s): Schuetz, Janice
Oetzel, John
Department: University of New Mexico. Dept. of Communication and Journalism
Subject: work-life balance
intercultural adaptation
international working mothers
antenarrative analysis
LC Subject(s): Women immigrants -- United States
Immigrant families -- United States
Working mothers -- United States
Work-life balance -- United States
Degree Level: Masters
Abstract: Studies of work-life balance and intercultural adaptation have addressed the effect of work-life conflict for working adults and the psychological and sociocultural adaptation of immigrants. However, rarely does this research explore how working adults, especially women, develop solutions to those work-life tensions. Previous literature is typically silent about how international women struggle with acclimating to a different national culture while also working or going to school and parenting children. Thus, this study aims to explore the unique challenges international working mothers face as they work and live in the United States and the communicative strategies and solutions they adopt in coping with the tensions. I conducted 17 in-depth interviews with women from 10 nationalities, and the interviews resulted in over 230 single-spaced pages of transcribed data. Using David Boje’s (2001) antenarrative analysis method, I analyze the data in two phases. In the first phase, I tell individual stories in the format of vignettes, a polyphonic approach. In the second phase, I summarize the similar challenges faced and solutions adopted by some women, and I list the differences at micro, meso, and macro levels. Findings reveal that international working mothers encounter unique challenges in their studies, in the workplace, in building relationships, in childcare, and in managing intimate relationships. These challenges arise from language barriers, new work and academic environments, lack of extended family support, different cultural norms, visa limitations, and gender ideology. Solutions, while limited, arise from their family members’ support, their advisors’ encouragement, and their own resilient personalities. The micro-meso-macro framework helps to highlight the contextual influences of meso and macro forces on the women’s daily lives and struggles. Findings confirm and extend existing literature on work-life conflict and intercultural adaptation. Findings provide theoretical implications on work-life conflict (Clark, 2000) and adaptation theories (Kim, 2005), as well as provide practical implications on government visa policies and university practices. Limitations and directions for future research are discussed.
Graduation Date: May 2012
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/20800

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