Title

An ABCD's Path to Success: Career Aspirations of Second Generation Indian Immigrants

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2008

Abstract

Second generation Indian immigrants are immersed in two very different and often contradictory cultures ? the extremely gendered, family and community oriented Indian culture, and the individualistic and more gender egalitarian American culture. With this project, I examine (1) How these contradictions affect the career aspirations of second generation Indians, (2) The role of parental influence in regards to career choice, and (3) Whether sons and daughters are equally pressured to pursue high powered careers. Through semi-structured interviews with 22 second generation Indians in and immediately out of college, I found that (1) Indian culture plays a larger role than American culture in shaping the career choices of the second generation, leading the majority of Indians to be limited to careers in medicine, computer science, and engineering, (2) Parents want their children to go into scientifically modern and culturally traditional careers, as these are the types of careers that allow their children to achieve the American Dream and reach financial prosperity without compromising their traditional values, and (3) Unlike in India, where women can be held back from entering high powered careers, I found that the majority of young second generation Indian men and women are equally pressured by their parents and the Indian American community to pursue such careers. I conclude that Indian parents? desire to achieve social mobility is strong enough to compel them to modify their deep rooted cultural traditions and gender roles in order to achieve material success.

Advisor

Lisa Wade

Department

sociology

Support

The Paul K. & Evalyn E. Cook Richter Trusts - Summer Research Fellowship

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