factors influencing the career decision of Asian Americans.


In this paper I choose to write about factors influencing the career decision of Asian Americans. But, first of all, I want to mention to the reason that why I choose to write about Asian American. The reason that I choose to write about Asian American because when I was studying at ELS center for teaching English as a second language at Louisiana Tech, I have meet ,saw and became friends with a lot of student from Asian American in particular Chinese, Japanese and one friend from Vietnam. So, as a result, I became so interested to learn more and have knowledgeable about their culture. I want also to know about their customer and value and who make the career decision for them. When I saw this opportunity came available to me in DEED580 course I choose to write about Asian American.

However, this paper will be consist four parts. First, I will write about the statistics of the population of Asian American and the stereotypes or misconceptions of population. Second, the critical review of factors influencing the career decision status of Asian American will be explained and I will present the relevant research on the special population and career issues related to the group. Thirdly, I will discuss the role of career theories , I will explain the theory's applicability to the special population ,and I will mention to any limitations of the selected theory for this population. After that, I will discuss the role of a career counselor for this population.

Population Statistics &Demographical:

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Population Growth is becoming a huge matter in the United State and world today. According to Uba (1994) in his book" Asian American :Personality, patterns, identity, and mental health", psychologists have been interested to study Asian American, and they have been confined primary to those of Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Lao, Mien or Vietnam. Other Asian American such as Asian Indians, Guamanians, Indonesians, Samoans and these not often have been studied by psychologists. Psychologists have been studied Asian American on 1960 and the number of Asian American were fewer than one million which is 0.5%. By 1990 the number of Asian American had been increased to 2.9% of the USA which is about 7,272,662. (p.223)

Migration is a natural condition of human race. People have usually moved willingly hope of freedom and economical, cultural and educational opportunities. According to Le (2010), the 2000 U.S. Census show that Asian Americans make up about 4.3% of the total U.S. population which is about 12 million people identify themselves as at least part Asian on 2000 and this number represents an increase of 63% from the 1990 census. In 2008 Asian Americans make up about 5% of the total U.S population. However, The Asian Americans are one of the fastest-growing of all the major racial/ethnic groups in the U.S, both from 1980-1990 and 1990-2000:

Racial/Ethnic Group

Growth Rate, 1980-1990

Growth Rate, 1990-2000







American Indians






Asian Americans



As we can see from the chart, Asian Americans are considered the fastest-growing of all the major racial/ethnic groups. In terms of growth among the six major Asian American ethnic groups, the Vietnamese were the fastest grown group in Asian American from 1980 to 1990.the next fastest -growing group from 1990 to 2000 is Pakistanis and Asian Indians .there are no doubt the Chinese is the largest group in the Asian American and there population about 22.6% of the total Asian American population, followed by Filipinos and Asian Indians.

Similarly, another study was made by Yeh, &Yuk (2008) that support the idea of that Asian American are the fastest growing racial group in the United States and they found out Asian American currently make up 13.5 million which is 5% of the total population. About 11 of Asian American are from China and About 63% of the Asian American population was born in Asia. Most Asian immigrants are families with children who settled in metropolitan areas such as New York and Los Angeles.

Asian stereotypes are a result of prevailing myths propagated by different media, from books, plays, movies, television, to even historical propaganda. Generally speaking, the stereotyping of Asian according to Kwan & Chu (2007) in their article "Effect of collectivistic cultural imperatives on Asian American", high education levels and the achievements seen in some Asian immigrants and their children have created a contemporary classification of Asian Americans as the 'model Minority 'the stereotypes characterize Asian as smart, hardworking people, achievement oriented and they have high level of education and receive high salary. The statistics suggest the Asian American have equal or higher education, career success than white counterparts ,whereas lower in official rates of mental illness and divorce. However, this model minority of stereotypes of Asian American as seen positive actually carries mixed connotations of simultaneous respect and resentment (P.270)

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Many teachers and school staff still hold to the stereotype of Asian Americans as the "model minority" because of their high academic achievement and because they report fewer mental health problems. So, they expect from students in high school or college to plan for college after graduation from high school and a career plan after finishing a collage. Many of these students have difficulty navigating the U.S. education system and adapting to a new environment.

.Another study was made by Le (2010) that showed up, there are two primary stereotypes that affect Asian Americans in past, present, and future:

The first stereotypes are that all Asian Americans are the same.

The second stereotypes are that all Asian Americans are foreigner

The first stereotypes that affect Asian American negatively are that most of people cannot make different between Asian American. In the other word, most of the people unwilling and unable to make distinguish between different Asian ethnicities such as Korean American from a Japanese American, Filipino American from an Indonesian American, etc. this is became a major problems for a lots of Asian American when people generalize certain beliefs or stereotypes about one or a few Asian Americans to the entire Asian American population. This right because when I studied at ELS center in LA Tech University I had meet a lot of student from Asian, and most of the time I could not distinguish between different Asian ethnicities. The second stereotypes are that all Asian Americans are foreigners. According to, a lot of people believe Asian American is foreigner although about half of Asian Americans were born outside of US but the truth a lots of families have been U.S. citizens for several generations. As a result, because all Asian Americans are perceived as foreigners, it becomes easier to think of them as not fully American and then to deny them the same rights that other Americans take for granted, which cause to prejudice and discrimination them in many forms.

Critical review of factors influencing the career decision status of Asian American

There is no doubt that choosing a career is the most important decision which we will make when starting out in our working lives on the future .According to Qin (2010) on his book "Family impact on Asian American's career choice, recent scholarship shows that Vocational interests are less related to Asian American's career choice. Many scholars have explained the reasons that Asian American Vocational interests are less related to Asian American's career choice.

However, the purpose of this paper is to explore the factors influencing the career decision status of Asian American. I focused on three main areas. First, I examined how occupational segregation affects Asian American of choosing a career. This was accomplished through a review of two research papers.

Occupational segregation:

Work is an important part of life for Asian Americans and the reason why so many Asians contain to immigrant to USA. The first aspect that affects Asian American of choosing a career is occupational segregation which has long been documented. In general, I found Asian Americans are more likely to choose an occupation that related to science, professional, and technology and less likely to choose an occupation that related to production, entertaining, social and humanistic field. A lot of study supports this trend of occupation segregation of Asian American. For purposes for this aspect, I focus on two research papers. The first research paper by Leung, Ivey, and Suzuki (1994) .The authors' compared the career consideration in two group of college student. They first group is Asian American college students (52 men and 72 women) with a comparison with second group of Caucasian college student (52 men and 72 women) by using occupation list.

In their study cited a survey conducted by The National Science Foundation and National Research Council in 1989 with earned doctorates by United States citizens. They reported that 28% of the doctoral degrees awarded to Asian Americans were in engineering, 20% were in agricultural or biological sciences, 12% were in physical sciences, and 3% were in computer and information sciences. This studied show that Asian Americans tend to choose an acceptation that related to science, technical, and professional occupations.

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In their study, they used a retrospective strategy of data collection. They used an occupation list by (Harman 1971, 1981, 1989; Leung& Harman, 1990) and using also Holland code, 1973, 1985) in order to compared the career aspirations of a college student of Asian American with a group of college student Caucasian American.

They found out Asian American more attracted to occupational activities that are logical, analytical, and nonperson in nature (the investigative occupations). They are less likely to choose an occupational that involves forceful communication influencing (the enterprising occupations).

They also found out Asian American are attracted to choose an occupation with higher occupational prestige more than Caucasian students as they measured by the mean SEL score and that can be result of parental and familial expectations and they compared the U.S born with non- U.S born, they found the two group are similar in career aspirations, prestige and sex.

Similar patterns were observed from other studies. For example, another study by Tang (2002) in his article "A comparison of Asian American, Caucasian American and Chinese college student: An initial report", the aims of this study was to determine the relationship between participants career choice and parental influence among Asian American, Caucasian American, and Chinese college student. The rustle showed Asian American were more likely than Caucasian American to choose investigate occupation type and their choice were more likely to be influenced by their family.

In this study , the 120 Chinese college student participants( average- 23.6 years ; 54.5 % men and 42.5 % women)were selected in a Chinese university and both 124 Caucasian American( average -22.6 years; 46.2% and 53.8% women) and 131 Asian American participants( average -24.6 years; 54.60% men and 45.4% women) were selected from a Midwestern university in the United Stated.

Tang analyzed the data by using Holland (1985) six occupational codes (Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional). The result of this study showed up both Asian American and Chinese student more likely to choose investigative occupational type, while Caucasian Americans were more likely to choose social occupational type. This study also showed up that Asian American families were more likely than Chinese and Caucasian Americans parents prefer to their children to purse investigative occupational type.

All above sources highlighted two points. First, Asian Americans overly represent science, technical, and professional occupations. Second, social science occupations were avoided by Asian Americans. Leung et al. (1994) documented that only 5% of earned doctorates national wide were in social science and the same study by Tang showed up Caucasian Americans were more likely to choose social occupational type than Chinese student and Asian Americans.

Family obligation

Family is something that can never be emphasized enough. Family is the people that make you who you are. Family obligation is the second aspect that affects Asian American of choosing a career. The meaning of the family obligation according to Fuiigni (1998),"Family obligation refers to a collection of values and behaviors related to the children's provision of assistance, support, and respect to their parents, siblings, and extended family."(p.99). However, Asian Americans families come from collectivistic traditions values that emphasize family members' responsibilities and obligations for one another.

A study by Fuligni, Yip, and Tseng (2002) that showed how strongly family obligation can affect Asian American in particularly Chinese American Adolescents in their daily life. The pourpes of this study was to and they found out Chinese American Adolescents believed in the importance of supporting and assisting their family more than their peers from European backgrounds. Chinese American families emphasize the value of respecting, supporting, and assistance when socializing their children. They expect from their adolescents to engage in activities such as caring for siblings and other family members, to cleaning the home, purchasing food, and cooking meals. Asian American families assume children should spend time with the family during meals, holidays, and special occasions.

Some scholars such as Yee (2007) argued that family obligation is important for Asian American and it looks like a function of protection for Asian American children when they select majors or careers because their career path has been made by elder people in their family and give them a "safe" direction since it is made by elder people. However, family obligations can also affect Asian American of choosing a career negatively. Family obligations can also function of barrier to Asian American career choice that prevents them from choosing a career that match with their interests. As a study was made by Qin (2010) support the idea that family obligations can function as a barrier to Asian American children. This study was focused to examine the relationship among family obligation, vocational interest, and career choice and this study was found out that obligations may delay children from pursuing their true passion if their choices are quite different from what elders have chosen for them. It was clear evidence to explain the lack of relation between Asian Americans' vocational interest and career choice.

Perceived Opportunities

The pain and the suffering, the oppression, and the exclusion all describe the history of Asian American.a Lot of immigrants came to USA to find a job or better life. Scholar have observed that Asian American perceive limited opportunities that may then impact their vocational interest and later career choices. A study was made by Nguyen and Huang (2007) that point out "U.S. history is replete with incidents of social disadvantage for Asian Americans, due to racism, prejudice, discrimination, and oppression" (p.91). That means Asian American more likely to perceive limited opportunities even if they have high education and are still paid less than White Americans.

Similarly ,the statistics show although Asian American have the highest rates of having a college (43% of all adults between 25 and 64) or a law, medicine, or doctorate degree (6.5% of all adults between 25 and 64), they only have the second highest median personal (per capita) income behind that for white American. That is, within a lot of occupation in the united state still white American are paid more than Asian American, even though having the same kind of education credentials and years of job experiences. In addition, Sue and Okazaki (1990) pointed out that Asian American perceive limited opportunities in field such as sport, politics, and entertaining and are still underrepresented in large policy -owned corporations.

All these studied documented one point that Asian American perceives limited opportunities of occupation that may perhaps impact their vocational interest and later career choices. I assume the greater perception of limited opportunities that lower the interest-choice congruence of Asian American.

Intergenerational Conflicts