Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Ali, Saba R

First Committee Member

Duys, David K

Second Committee Member

Liu, William M

Third Committee Member

Westefeld, John S

Fourth Committee Member

Williams, Rachel M


The Asian American population is one of the fastest growing racial groups within the United States, and will soon become a significant proportion of the nations' work force (Census, 2008). It is important for counselors and other helping professional to better understand the needs of this population in order to better prepare them for the nation's workforce. Given the limitations of the current knowledge pertaining to Asian American career development, researchers have called for additional studies examining the career development process for Asian Americans (Flores et al., 2006; Leong & Serifica, 1995).

A notable gap in today's Asian American vocational literature is on the career development process for those who pursue underrepresented occupations, such as work in the humanities and arts. Researchers have noted that Asian American vocational research has predominantly focused on occupations in which there are more representation, such as Investigative or Enterprising fields (Escueta & O'brien, 1991), the unique career concerns of specific ethnic groups (Kim, 1993; Yang, 1991), familial involvement in career (Tang, Fouad, & Smith, 2004), or provides a broad conceptualization of career development of Asian Americans (Leong, 1986; Leong, 1991). However, there are no studies that examine the intersection of gender, race, and nontraditional career choices for Asian American women. This is especially true for occupational field that is often ignored in vocational research, such as the Artistic field (Ng, Lee, & Pack, 2007). Little is known regarding the why and how Asian American women choose to go into a field that is nontraditional and in which they are underrepresented. Further examination of this will allow helping professionals to gain a better understand the challenges and resiliency factors that influence Asian American women, especially those who choose to enter difficult field often not well regarded as an ideal career by family or society.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the following questions:

(1) What are unique aspects of the career development of early career Asian American female visual artists, (2) how do contextual factors in Asian American female visual artists' career development impact both their psychological and vocational well-being, and (3) what are the major supports and barriers for Asian Americans females in pursuing an Artistic career? Utilizing Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR) methodology (Hill, Thompson, & Williams, 1997), Asian American female early career visual artists were recruited, identified, and screened nationally through an online survey. Twelve East (n=10) and Southeast (n=2) Asian American female visual artists between the ages of 21 - 35 were interviewed utilizing a semi-structured interview protocol. Eight domains emerged from the analysis of the results: 1) Description of career path into the visual arts, (4) Ecological factors impacting overall career, (5) Financial influences on the career development, (6) Perceived additional skills and resources needed for career, (2) Influences on art work and artist identity, (3) Individual strengths contributing to career development, (7) Influences of support on career development, (8) Perceived barriers to career development. A detailed summary of these results, implications of these findings and recommendations for clinical work and future research will be provided.


Asian American, Career Development, CQR, Qualitative, Visual Artists, Women


viii, 166 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 155-166).


Copyright 2013 Sharon Yih-Chih Lee