The Experience of Voice for Asian American Women in Different Social Contexts
Chan, Pauline P. “The Experience of Voice for Asian American Women in Different Social Contexts”, Boston College, 2014. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:104042.
Research on women's voice and self-silencing has shown that girls begin to silence themselves during adolescence in response to sociocultural pressures to conform to gender norms and as a way to stay relationally connected with others. While the literature on voice for women has been extensive, it has centered primarily on the experiences of European-American women, which may not be generalizable to other ethnic/racial groups. This study extends existing research by examining voice experiences for Asian American women specifically. Given the multiple minority statuses and social roles that are a part of Asian American women's identities, the current study examined the intersecting influences of gender, race, culture, and power, in the experience of voice and authenticity. Specifically, this study explored voice for these women in different social contexts where issues of gender, race and power tend to be salient. Additionally, the study examined the role of racism-related stress and culture in self-silencing. Finally, associations between voice, support for voice, and psychological wellbeing were assessed. Findings indicated that levels of voice, as well as levels of perceived support for voice varied by social context, providing evidence for the importance of social climate in voice. In general, both voice and perceived support for voice were higher in settings with minimal power differentials (i.e., with female and Asian peers vs. with authority figures). In two of the social contexts of interest (i.e., non-Asian peers and male authority figures), racism-related stress was significantly associated with lower levels of voice. Self-construal, which was used as an indicator of cultural tendencies, was also significantly associated with voice; individuals with an independent style had more voice, and those with an interdependent style had less voice. Higher levels of voice were associated with higher perceived support for voice. And ultimately, higher voice was linked with better psychological outcomes. Implications for research, work/school settings, and clinical practice were discussed, as well as limitations and suggestions for future research.