This article presents the findings from a narrative study that examined the leadership development and pathways of nine prominent Hmong American women leaders from Minnesota and California. Each of these women was able to break through the cultural and gender glass ceiling to become positional and influential leaders in mainstream American society. The study focused on the factors that contributed to the participants leadership development; strategies used in attaining and maintaining leadership roles; and barriers each participant encountered on her path to becoming a leader. Important findings included the impact of poverty, the prominent role of education, inner strength the women possessed, importance of networking and support systems, and strong role models. Other factors included familial responsibilities, gender disparities, racism and ageism.

The conceptual frameworks of Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger and Tarule (1986), and Alon and Higgins (2005), were utilized to guide the analysis and presentation of each participants life journey, and show the intersections between culture and feminist epistemology. The narrative case study approach included in-depth interviews, collective story mapping and re-narration techniques to explore the lives of these women leaders. One overarching goal of the study and this article is to create a greater understanding of complex issues and impediments associated with leadership development, with the hope of beginning a dialog that will help facilitate policy changes regarding developing and supporting minority women in leadership roles.

Included in

Education Commons