Navigating Multiple Worlds: A Qualitative Study of the Lived Experiences of Hmong Women Leaders

This qualitative narrative research study drew upon a case study approach and utilized face-to-face interviews to explore and understand the personal and professional lives of nine Hmong women leaders through two conceptual lenses (feminist and culture). Glaser and Strauss' Models of Process and Theory was used to guide the research process, and the conceptual frameworks of Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, & Tarule (1986) and Alon & Higgins (2005) were utilized to guided the presentation of each participant's life journey and intersections between culture and feminist epistemology. This study found three major themes: 1) Factors that contributed to participants' leadership development; 2) Strategies in attaining and maintaining leadership roles; 3) Barriers participants encountered. Each of the three major themes yielded various subthemes. Theme one had two subthemes: impact of cultural background and experiences with poverty. Theme two had four subthemes: educational as liberator, inner strength, networking and being accessible, and having support systems and role models. Theme three had four subthemes: familial responsibilities, something lost but something gained, gender disparities, and racism and ageism. Understanding Hmong women's specific issues and impediments will add to the existing body of knowledge about Hmong women and Hmong women leaders as well as create an understanding to facilitate policy changes regarding minority women in leadership roles.