UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
Minor: Interdisciplinary Minor
Anticipated Graduation Date: May, 2013
Faculty Mentor & Research Supervisor: Dr. Travis Tubre, Psychology, University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Research Location: University of Wisconsin-River Falls, Summer 2012
Research Topic: Relationships among Ethnic Identity, Model Minority Perceptions, and Career Interests in Hmong American College Students
Problem or Major Purpose
Although the U.S. is becoming increasingly diverse, significant achievement gaps exist for people of color in academic, economic, and career settings (Ngo & Lee, 2007). While research has focused on academic and economic achievement gaps, the career interests of minority groups, such as Hmong Americans, have been understudied. Research examining career interests among ethnic minority groups can help educators and career counselors provide better career advice for these groups.
In the present study, we examined relationships between Hmong ethnic identity, model minority perceptions, and career interests in a sample of Hmong American college students. Our findings extend the work of Moua (2009) who studied how both ethnic self-identify and model minority beliefs related to mental well-being among Hmong students. Our study examined whether these same variables correlated with dimensional scores in Holland’s Career Model (1958; 1997).
We collected anonymous survey data from 116 Hmong American college students (18-36 years of age) recruited through student associations. Participants provided general demographic data and completed several survey measures, including a modified version of the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM; Phinney, 1992), the Model Minority Stereotype Scale (MMSS; Moua 2009), and the O*Net Interest Profiler Short Form (ONIP; U.S. Department of Labor, 2012) to assess Holland’s dimensions of career interests.
Hmong ethnic identity (as measured by MEIM scores) was positively and significantly correlated with both Social (r = .391, p < .001) and Enterprising (r = .239, p = .010) career preferences. Similarly, model minority perceptions of Asians/Asian-Americans (as measured by MMSS scores) were positively and significantly correlated with both Social (r = .238, p = .010) and Enterprising (r = .232, p = .012) career preferences. Finally, model minority perceptions of Hmong/Hmong Americans were positively and significantly correlated with both Social (r = .231, p = .013) and Enterprising (r = .201, p = .030) career preferences.
Conclusions and Implications
Participants who identified more strongly with their Hmong ethnic identity and with model minority perceptions about Asians/Asian Americans and Hmong/Hmong Americans expressed stronger interest in social and enterprising careers. We suggest that theoretical explanations for the Hmong ethnic identity/social career preference relationship may involve collectivism. Similarly, theoretical explanations for the Hmong ethnic identity/enterprising career preference relationship may involve labor market discrimination as well as labor and capital resources. Finally, we suggest that theoretical explanations for the model minority perception/career preference relationships may involve internalization of social/cultural beliefs.