Citation
From household to workplace

Material Information

Title:
From household to workplace the experience of ArabMuslim women in America
Portion of title:
Experience of Arab/Muslim women in America
Creator:
Dillon, Kenza B
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
ix, 168 leaves : ; 29 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Arab American women -- Economic conditions ( lcsh )
Immigrants -- United States ( lcsh )
Foreign workers, Arab -- United States ( lcsh )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 165-168).
Thesis:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Social Science
General Note:
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Statement of Responsibility:
by Kenza B. Dillon.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
37846864 ( OCLC )
ocm37846864
Classification:
LD1190.L65 1997m .D55 ( lcc )

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


Full Text

PAGE 1

FROM HOUSEHOLD TO WORKPLACE: THE EXPERIENCE OF ARAB\MUSLIM WOMEN IN AMERICA By Kenza B. Dillon B.A. University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, 1990 A thesis submitted to the University of Colorado at Denver In Partial Fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Social Science 1997

PAGE 2

This thesis for the Master of Social Science degree by Kenza Dillon has been approved by MichaelS. (ate/

PAGE 3

Dillon, Kenza (M.S.S) From Household to Workplace: The Experience of Arab\Muslim Women in America Thesis directed by Professor Jana M. Everett ABSTRACT In studying the experiences of immigrants to the U.S., the dominant tendency of scholars has been to study individual characteristics such as proficiency in the English language, education, job skills, age, country of origin and network to determine the economic contribution ofimmigrant workers. Inherent in this approach is the assumption that the contribution of these people can only be measured in dollars and cents. Second, the insignificant influence of these individuals' assets on the earning capacity of immigrant laborers tends to indirectly promote the stereotype that immigrants are blameworthy for dragging the economy of this nation down. Finally, little has been written on Arab immigrants in general or on Arab women migrants in particular. To examine the economic activities of immigrant female workers, this thesis describes the lives of twelve Arab\Muslim women from Colorado, four of whom stay at home, four ofwhom participate in the enclave economy and four of whom participate in the mainstream economy. The agenda is to soften the negative stereotype about alien ]]]

PAGE 4

. laborers in America. Findings from recent studies on the market structure (local or global}, government policies and gender composition of the household are incorporated in this study to show how immigrant women are restrained in their economic choices. This thesis reveals through the experience of these women that the contribution of immigrants to the United States includes and exceeds the narrow economic agenda of some researchers It explores this contribution through a process of answering a central question: what factors influence the decision of Arab \Muslim women to work inside or outside the home This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates' thesis. I recommend its publication. Signed Jana M. Everett IV

PAGE 5

DEDICATION I dedicate this thesis to my loving mother and friend Attica Oualla for their unfaltering understanding and consistent support.

PAGE 6

ACKNOWLEDGMENT I extend my most sincere gratitude to Dr. Michael Cummings, Dr. Jana Everett and Dr. Michael Tang for their tremendous understanding and support. I also thank all the people who have touched my life in a positive and meaningful way.

PAGE 7

CHAPTER I. 2. 3. CONTENTS INTRODUCTION Methodology My Story LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction Factors of Labor Participation Individual Characteristics and Income Language Education Job Experience Age since Migration Country of Origin Network STORIES OF THE TWELVE WOMEN Housewives Malika A MalikaB MalikaC Vll 1 2 10 10 13 17 17 21 23 26 28 31 39 39 39 41

PAGE 8

4. 5. MalikaD Women in the Ethnic Enclave SabahA Sabah B Sabah C Sabah D Participation in the Mainstream American Market Leila A Leila B Leila C Leila D Observation THE IMP ACT OF CULTURE, RELIGION AND FAMILY The Impact of Culture Housewives Enclave Participants Participants in the U.S. Labor Market Religion and Work Family THE J.Mr\.1IGRATION EXPERIENCE The Influence oflndividual Characteristics on Arab\Mus]im 45 49 49 52 55 57 60 60 62 64 67 69 71 79 79 85 95 100 105 119 in the Workplace 119 The Ability to Speak the English Language 19 Vlll

PAGE 9

Education Job Experience Age Country of Origin Network Market Reality 6. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE PARTICIPANTS CONCLUSION REFERENCES IX 123 129 131 134 137 139 148 160 165

PAGE 10

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION This interpretive study is about twelve Arab\Muslim women in the state of Colorado and their decision to work inside or outside the home. This study is intended to be a unique contribution to research on gender and ethnicity. As it stands, many studies have been done about women from other ethnic backgrounds, but hardly any on Arab women. Because of a growing concern about the economic health of this nation, researchers have tended to examine the influence individual characteristics or assets like language, education, experience, age, country of origin and network to measure the earnings, and ultimately, the economic contribution of immigrant workers, men and women. In other words, the contribution of these individuals was conceptualized in narrow economic terms. Later, new evidence surfaced about the constraining and realistic aspects of market structure, government policies, global economy, market strategies of immigrant women, gender composition in the household which steered the research in a new direction. Basically, the new orientation of researchers is to investigate the effect of all these factors on the economic outcome of immigrants. The task of examining the impact of these combined variables in order to determine the economic contribution of immigrant women becomes somewhat difficult, particularly when their reality is different from the reality of their male

PAGE 11

immigrant cohorts. Also, since the lives of women are multifaceted with their assumption of responsibility for a household and a career, it is only logical to highlight their dual contribution to this society in terms of economic and social capital. This is the point at which a focus on the Arab \Muslim women becomes useful, especially when the social contribution of immigrant women can best be described in a home and culture. However, this thesis will not suggest in any way that Arab\Muslim women have a greater contribution than women from other ethnic backgrounds. The central theme is that immigrant women, in the context of their new experience in the host society and inherited culture, should be viewed as a great economic and social asset. Such a theme will be explored in the process of answering the main question in this thesis: what factors influence the decision of Arab\Muslim women to work inside or outside the home? Methodology A sample of twelve Arab women from Aurora and Denver, Colorado was selected for a qualitative examination of issues of immigrant workers in the United States. Four of the women are housewives. Four are employed in the enclave economy (meaning they work either for their family and relatives or for people from the same 2

PAGE 12

ethnic background). Four participate in the mainstream American economy. The housewives are incorporated in this study to support the idea that women do important work often dividing their labor between paid and unpaid work depending upon the economic conditions of the family, needs of child rearing, and cost (the demands of a job on family's time) and the benefits (second income) (Stier, 1991). The rest ofthe group is utilized to introduce the several aspects-of immigrant employment issues. An interview guide was formulated to extract selected concepts about the topic. The guide is written in English and solicits brief personal and family histories of the participants, a discussion of the assimilation process, opinions about and comparisons between countries of origin and the U.S., and specific information about household and work experiences. The process of securing interviews with the subjects was time-consuming and somewhat difficult because, as one Arab man explained to me, Arab people are generally apprehensive about being questioned by anybody since they come from authoritarian regimes. However, once I was able to interview a few individuals, these same individuals helped facilitate interviews with their friends and relatives for me. 3

PAGE 13

At the outset of each interview, the subjects were given a consent form to sign and provided with an explanation of the content of the project and questionnaire. They were encouraged to speak in the language they felt most comfortable with, i.e. Arabic or English. Subsequently, some of them interviewed in Arabic, some in English, and others fluctuated between both languages. When I interviewed the twelve women, I was able to get feedback on many more questions than the ones that were included in the interview guide. Some of the questions were not incorporated in the questionnaire, but I tried to incorporate them in each interview to maintain consistency in the research. The interview usually lasted between 1 1/2 and 2 hours. All interviews were recorded. I had tore-interview two women because the voice on one tape was not clear, and a good portion of another interview was erased. I did not have any problems re-interviewing the two women. Later, I personally transcribed the interviews word-for-word. When the participants could not speak English fluently, I tried to type their conversations exactly the way they sounded. I also attempted to be as detailed as I could about translating and transcribing the interviews which were conducted in Arabic. Some of the words lost their exact meaning because I could not match them with English terms. However, I aimed at preserving the closest content possible of each word and sentence. 4

PAGE 14

I wanted to compare and contrast the women's work patterns and attitudes in terms of individual characteristics (i.e., language, education, experience, age, country of origin and network), family characteristics (i.e., personal relationships and history of immediate\extended relatives), culture, and religion. I anticipated that the effect of culture and religion would limit the participation of the majority of Arab women in the U.S. labor market, that the behavior of these women would be restricted by gender roles, and that the Arab people have some cultural and social values which might be significant in terms of child-rearing. Hence, the contribution of these individuals includes and exceeds the strict economic contribution which is outlined by current researchers. All these concepts are organized in the following manner: Chapter 1 contains an introduction, methodology and my personal story. Chapter 2 includes an extensive review of current research. The objective of this chapter is to illustrate how structural factors and individual characteristics (otherwise known as human capital) determine the contribution of immigrant women. The stories of the twelve women are briefly and concisely presented in chapter 3. Finally, a detailed analysis ofhow these life experiences fit in the context of current literature and a conclusion constitutes chapter 4. 5

PAGE 15

My Stmy I am a 37-year-old woman from Morocco. I came to the United States when I was 21 years of age. I have been in this country for fifteen years. I came to Colorado to go to school. I first had to learn English; then I was able to attend college. I had been here for nearly three years before I met my husband. I got married and moved to Florida. I returned to Colorado after three years. I lived and went to school in Colorado Springs. I obtained my B.A. in Political Science. During my last semester of undergraduate study, my spouse got stationed in the Philippines. Subsequently, I decided to move back to Denver to attend graduate school. Unfortunately, I exited the marriage because my husband and I grew apart. Shortly after my divorce in 1990, I brought my mother over from Morocco. Also, I was able to petition for the rest of my family to join us in the United States. I have two brothers and one sister who currently reside in Morocco. I always had to have a job to support myselfthrough college. I did the same thing even during my marriage. I worked at several restaurants and retail stores. When I obtained my degree, I participated in the corporate world. I was not able to keep my jobs for too long because of downsizing, and at one time the company I worked for was dissolved. In 1994 I opted to join the U.S. Navy to have job security and acquire 6

PAGE 16

more technical skills. Unfortunately, my career as an Operations Specialist did not materialize because I hold dual citizenship: Moroccan and American. The Navy would not grant me top-security clearance. It needed to know where my loyalty lay. I did not want to give up my Moroccan citizenship; therefore I was dismissed with an honorable discharge. My career in the Navy lasted only eight months. I came back to Colorado to finish my graduate program. My life in Morocco was different. My parents were divorced. I lived with my father in a small village called Moulay Driss Zarhoun until I was nearly eight years of age. Later, my mother took custody of me. I had spent nine months with her before she placed me in an orphanage. She was a single mother with four children. My sister and youngest brother are from another marriage. I lived in the orphanage until I was in the eighth grade. I then moved in with my family until I graduated from high school. I was visiting a classmate after my graduation when my mother stopped by unexpectedly and found us talking about immigration to America. My classmate had a brother who was going to school in Denver, Colorado. I did not think that it was possible for me to come to the United States because I come from an economically disadvantaged family. However, my mother surprised me when she asked ifl seriously wanted to leave Morocco. When I confirmed that the idea was nice, she spent her saved annual employment pension on a my trip to this country. 7

PAGE 17

While I was living with my family, I was involved in sports, youth clubs, and Summer camp activities. I also was on the honor roll for most of my academic years. When I became an adolescent, I worked as a camp counselor during Summer of each year. I was able to earn income, which I ultimately spent on gifts for my mother, siblings, and some of my school supplies. I tremendously enjoyed this working experience. My mother informed me that the Moroccan Administration ofEducation continued to invite me by mail to subsequent Summer camp activities several years after I had immigrated to America. I used to reminisce for many years about these wonderful activities. I chose to write my thesis on Arab immigrant working women in America because of my own experience. Generally, the immigrant experience is difficult and challenging. Therefore, I can sympathize with every participant in my study. I've had the experience of working close to Arab people. I realize that my participation in the enclave economy was a stepping stone. Such experience helped me ease my way into American society. I also learned English by interacting with people. The first years of my immigration were very challenging. Nonetheless, I discovered that I am a survivor. Naturally, as I became fluent in the language and comfortable with the American culture and tradition, I gained more confidence. 8

PAGE 18

However, I continue to struggle with the career issue. There are many issues that an immigrant worker faces in the work place. But gradually these issues fade as one learns how to work around them. In addition, I have come to realize that the longer I live in America, the more I tend to seek a balance between the things I learned in Morocco and in America. This need for balance often occurs when the difference between two given concepts or values is sharp. I feel that each of the women that I interviewed reminds me of an issue or a situation that I've already dealt with. However, I am glad to have immigrated to this country on my own. I can only imagine how my life would have been if I had continued to live in a strict context of culture and religion. When an immigrant woman lives independently in this country, she is bound to act differently from a woman who immigrates with her husband or family. 9

PAGE 19

CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction As I review the current literature, I found that scholars have commonly selected the ability to speak the English language, education, job experience, age, country of origin and network to assess the economic contribution of immigrant workers in America (Chiswick and Miller, 1995; Madamba and DeJong 1994; Tienda and Singer, 1995; Kanjanapan, 1994; Waldinger, 1994; Fairlie and Meyer, 1996; Chiswick, Cohen and Zach, 1997; Hondagneu-Stelo, 1994; Bates, 1994; Lindstrom and Massey, 1994). Supposedly, these variables shape the labor participation and, subsequently, the earning capacity of these individuals. For example, the inability to speak the English language may hinder a foreign person from obtaining a well-paying job (Chiswick and Miller, 1995; Duleep and Sanders, 1993). The indirectly stated concern of the researchers is that incomes of a steadily growing immigrant population will ultimately drag the economy ofthe U.S. nation down (Jensen, 1991; Borjas, 1995; Duleep and Regets, 1996). 10

PAGE 20

First, I narrowed my focus on immigrant women, without being judgmental of scholars' approach, to explore how their economic contribution is influenced by these same individual assets. At this point, I am guided only by my intuition and personal experience, which tell me that I, as an immigrant working woman in America, have to deal with more complex issues such as wage, job, race and sex discrimination which make my experience inherently different even from the experience of an immigrant man. I later discovered that the employability and income of people are affected by these variables only during the initial phase of immigration. Eventually, immigrants learn the English language, gain job skills, become more educated and marketable in the career world, (Chiswick and Miller, 1995; Duleep and Sanders, 1993). Furthermore, none of these factors is reliable in measuring the earning capacity of an immigrant. For instance, a person may know the language but lack the education and network which can facilitate a good employment. Henceforth, the economic contribution of an alien laborer is essentially determined by a combination of several variables. Once I realized that the relationship between these individual assets and the economic endowment ofimmigrant workers is either short-term or insignificant, I begin to question the orientation of researchers. In other words, are scholars 11

PAGE 21

innocently making alien laborers blameworthy for the economic problems of the U.S. nation because of an initial difficulty with the individual characteristics listed above? If so, what about a market reality which shows how recent government and business policies have created stringent conditions for foreign females to come out of the lowest economic rank? Fortunately, some studies show that immigrant women are permitted in this country to fill in labor needs in certain job areas where U.S. natives are in short supply. I have come to the opinion that my foremost obligation is to destroy the myth that immigrants are responsible for a possible economic downfall of this nation. Also, I say. that immigrants' contribution to this nation includes and exceeds the narrow economic agenda of current researchers. To illustrate this point, I focus on Arab\Muslim women in America. My first intention is naturally to contribute something unique to research. Secondly, it is useful to concentrate on a group of women from a particular ethnic background versus all immigrant women in the United States. 12

PAGE 22

Factors of Labor Participation Scholars consider the language, education, job experience, age, country of origin and network when they examine the labor participation of immigrant women in America. Since I intend to demonstrate the impact of these same variables on the employability and earning capacity of immigrant working females, there may be some overlap between my approach and other scholars approaches. On the outset, it is important to establish that immigrant women are no longer considered as 11tie-immigrants11 by virtue of simply following their husbands or family members to the United States. In their own right, they are viewed as 11economic migrants .. who possess adaptive market strategies which, to an extent, resemble the strategies of immigrant men but, at the same time, look inherently different (Stier, 1991: 67). Women are less likely to migrate to America if more than one of the following elements is missing: the English language, education, legal status, financial assets, social or professional network. In comparison, an immigrant man will not hesitate to migrate to this country and participate in the work force even when he is not well educated and has entered illegally. Also, research shows that most women who come 13

PAGE 23

to the United States are skilled, fluent in the English language, legal and better educated than their male cohorts. In the United States, immigrant women continue to include several factors in their employment decision. Specifically, language proficiency, advanced academic training, delayed childbearing (Stier, 1991; Madamba and DeJong, 1994}, marital status, skills transferability, family situation, cultural assimilation and support from family members (Duleep and Sanders, 1993) seem to encourage the women's work force participation. However, there are numerous variations which indicate that the relationship between the market entry and these variables may vary for each individual or group of immigrants. For example, Madamba and De Jong (I 994) highlight the positive correlation between English ability, education, and delayed childbearing and the entry of Puerto Rican females into white-collar labor in Metropolitan New York. These authors posit that participation in the white-collar sector results in better jobs and income. Nonetheless, when Stier studies the labor supply of Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Asian Indian, and Filipino women, she concludes that the employment decision ofthese groups ofpeople.is not equally affected by English proficiency. Only the vietnamese seem to rely more on language ability, because of the jobs that they secure. Further, she states that although Vietnamese people may possess job skills 14

PAGE 24

which can be transferred into the American market, their low levels of education interfere with their wage potential. Duleep and Sanders (1993) first hypothesize that women who immigrate with their husbands have a lower labor market participation than the women who migrate alone. Presumably, married women depend on their spouses' income while single women use their transferrable skills to gain employment. However, the authors later discover that marriage prior to migration affects the work decision only of selected groups of women such as the Japanese, Chinese, and Filipinos, but not ofKorean, Indian, and non-Hispanic white females. Duleep and Sanders (1993) present another theory regarding skills transferability. Briefly, this theory says that women who immigrate from a country with skills similar to the U.S. labor market skills are easily incorporated into the work force. On the contrary, female immigrants who originate from countries with different market skills have lower participation rates. These two scholars also report that Long (1980), a major contributor to immigration research, posits that immigrant women join the work force to help their husbands acquire skills pertinent to the U.S. labor market, while other scholars like McPherson and Stewart (1989) argue that there is no significant relationship between 15

PAGE 25

a woman's decision to work and her spouse's investment in U.S.-specific skills. (Duleep and Sanders, 1993: 680). Reimers (1984) associates the labor participation of immigrant women with assimilation in the American culture. The longer these alien laborers reside in the United States, the more familiarized they become with the culture. But Duleep and Sanders ( 1993: 681) challenge this concept by stating that the degree of assimilation varies among the different ethnic groups; therefore, further studies can be used to test the validity of this theory. In addition, Duleep and Sanders (1993: 683) speculate that the presence of relatives in the home with children under twelve years of age precipitates the participation of immigrant women in the labor market because these individuals increase family costs. Evidently, this idea contradicts the assumption that relatives help reduce day-care costs. It has been demonstrated, thus far, that there are several factors which account for the partiCipation of immigrant women in the work force. However, there is no consistency in how each of these factors affects the market entry of alien laborers. At this point, it is helpful to say that there is perhaps an equal number of reasons which influence the earning capacity of immigrant working women. In the next segment of 16

PAGE 26

this literature review, factors which influence the earning ability of international immigrant females will be explored. Individual Characteristics and Income Several research scholars are discovering that individual characteristics like language, education, job experience, country of origin and network (otherwise known as human capital) have no significant effect on the economic outcome of immigrant women. Other structural factors such as the nature of the local or global market, labor demand\supply, wage, race and sex discrimination seem to better determine the earning ability ofthese females (Repak, 1994; Nee, Sanders and Semau, 1994; Petras, 1992). Several examples will be presented in the course of discussing their adaptive strategies and market behavior. Language A brief and general statement about the language, like other individual characteristics, is that it cannot be exclusively counted as a reliable measure of the earning ability of immigrant women or men. Researchers usually have to consider 17

PAGE 27

other variables like job experience, age since migration, or education to determine the influence of the language on the economic outcome of immigrant workers. For example, Lindstrom and Massey (I 994) report that for many years, scholars have studied the relationship between language proficiency and wages, wages and job experience, or simultaneously job experience, earning and language ability. According to these two scholars, the results are: These analyses consistently show that wages and language ability rise as immigrants accumulate time in their new environment. The slopes may differ from group to group and country to country, but the basic nature of the relationship is the same: language ability and economic performance rise with time spent in the host country (Lindstrom and Massey, 1994: 316). First, although Lindstrom and Massey (1994)conclude that their findings basically resemble the results of these analyses, they add that the effect of the English language on earning is technically marginal because the ability of immigrants to obtain a higher income in the United States has generally declined in the recent years (no explanation of changes in market structure is provided). Second, even the results of an international study conducted by Chiswick and Miller ( 1995) to show a high correlation between language efficiency and income ability indicate that the economic performance of immigrant workers is enhanced by complementary variables like education and job experience, in addition to language. 18

PAGE 28

Though that study focuses on immigrant men only, the same finding may reasonably apply to female cohorts. Thus, the first point to stress is that the economic outcome of immigrant women cannot be exclusively measured by language proficiency. Other variables have to be added, especially structural factors which tend more effectively to determine the earnings of immigrant female laborers. For instance, a study done by Yamanaka and McClelland (1994) illustrates that the economic success of certain Asian women in New York City as measured by the large number of hours worked and steady employment through the year, despite family circumstances. Otherwise, these women continue to experience job discrimination in the mainstream American labor market. They also are exploited when they participate in the enclave economy. Repak {1994) finds that in Washington, D.C. other structural elements, like gender boundaries and market orientation affect the economic outcome of Central American women more than do proficiency in the English language, legal status, and social network. While this human capital may facilitate the move of these individuals from domestic service into pink-or white-collar jobs, it does not secure a higher income or job mobility. In comparison, immigrant men who work in the construction sector seem to get promoted more and gain more substantial increases in salary than women. 19

PAGE 29

Central American Women have resided in the Washington, D.C. area on average almost twice as long as men have (6.7 years for women as opposed to 3.9 for men). Despite this, and higher education and English language proficiency levels compared to men, the men received three times the increase in income that women did from their first to their current jobs. Men also exhibited markedly higher average weekly wages than women (Repak, 1994: 128) Repak concludes that these women would have to relocate to other big American cities to escape the stringent market trend which places men in wider range of occupational options than women. Currently, women are mostly concentrated in service industries like domestic work, retail sales, and professional cleaning. Repak (1994) offers a "microstructural analysis" of the Washington D.C. market to help explain the concentration of Central American immigrant women in the domestic sector. First, he says that this market was closed to all immigrants prior to 1960. However, from 1960 until 1970 this city began to absorb a huge influx of foreign domestic workers mainly because U.S.-bom women were entering the work force and needed adequate child-care assistance. In response to this trend, the government allowed a substantial number of immigrant women to enter the United States to meet this demand for child-care and domestic service providers. Initially, employees from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) who were stationed abroad would import loyal and competent household and child-care providers to America via sponsorship programs. Many of these women 20

PAGE 30

were available to immigrate because of the political condition in their countries. For example, they were prohibited by their governments to inherit land; hence, they were restricted in their economic and social mobility. Also, they could not compete with men for jobs. The social system was inherently patriarchal; therefore, women were limited in job opportunities. Further, most ofthese women were single, widowed, or divorced, with or without children. Briefly, these women already exhibited a market and immigrant strategy that was different from the one which was adopted by their male cohorts. For example, the majority of immigrant men are married. Once in the host society, they found their niche in producing a strong professional network for other members of their families. In fact, these women were more efficient than immigrant men in bringing their relatives to America. Also, several immigrant male workers were able to come to the United States and secure employment because of these women. This brief history illustrates how a structural factor, such as that of the Washington D.C. market, shaped the labor decision of immigrant women from Central America. Education Several studies demonstrate a relatively positive relationship between education and earning ability of immigrant workers. Nonetheless, like English 21

PAGE 31

proficiency, education has to be coupled with other variables to show a substantial effect on the economic outcome of alien laborers. At this point, it is easier to revert to the combination of variables which were previously listed but in the following order: education, job experience, and English ability. However, as Waldinger and Gilbertson (1994) examine the ability of immigrants to convert educational skills into occupational opportunities, they discover that most of these individuals are unable to transfer their academic credentials into the American market because oflicensing requirements, lack ofU.S. experience, and inadequate mastery of the English language. Further, Waldinger and Gilbertson (1994) report that their sample of Asian women (Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Korean and Japanese) is destined to be at the bottom of the economic pile because of two inherent social dispositions. One, they are generally less educated than males of the same ethnic origin (women 42%; men 76%). Two, there is a wage and occupational disparity between men and women in any case. Subsequently, this same group of women continues to fall into the lower ranks ofthe work force when it is compared to native-born and foreign-born women. Kanjanapan (1994) demonstrates that the labor distribution of Asian professionals is no longer determined by education and migration to this country. 22

PAGE 32

Previously, these people were able to "adjust" their status from students to temporary workers and eventually permanent residents, based on the demand in the U.S market for people in the engineering, scientific, and computer fields. Instead, Kanjanapan is stating that a large number of these people are entering the United States by family relationships. Though Kanjanapan uses this study to determine settlement patterns of immigrants by ethnicity, he simultaneously illustrates how education has become marginal in the immigration decision and labor distribution of Asian professionals. The same migration strategy is possibly used by many Asian immigrant females particularly .ifthey are concentrated in pink-collar fields like nursing, where the demand for foreign labor is low. Job Experience Chiswick ( 1978, 1979; Chiswick and Miller, 1992), a major contributor to immigration research, developed a hypothesis which later formed the basis for subsequent studies This theory states that, with time spent in the United States (note how time spent in America becomes a complementary variable to job skills), immigrants who invest in U.S. market skills eventually "catch up" in their earnings with the individuals who are born in this country. Also, immigrants who originate from countries where job skills are closely related to the relevant U.S. skills earn higher 23

PAGE 33

wages. When Chiswick examines the earning capacity of immigrant women based on the same theory, he discovers that their hourly wages increase. Later, Blau (1980), another important scholar, posits that familiarity with surroundings in the host country is what encourages immigrant women to seek the best employment opportunities based on their skills (Duleep and Sanders, 1993). However, structural factors, such as gender and wage disparity, minimize the effect of job experience (or human capital) on the earning ability of immigrant female workers. Since within country groups, women rank lower than men. Indeed, so great is the disparity that the category of high-skilled immigrants hardly seems an appropriate characterization for women at all. (Waldinger and Gilbertson, 1994:440) It follows that immigrant women with poor skills tend to get more trapped in the lower ranks of the economic hierarchy because they usually are not rewarded with an increase in income even when they upgrade their skills. Waldinger and Gilbertson (1994) add that even self-employment does not represent a promising opportunity for highly skilled immigrant women, for two reasons. One, Korean women, for example, who seem to excel in the self-employment domain more than all other immigrant sisters, drop far behind Korean men in entrepreneurial rank. Two, these women are considered the "selected few" because they have a noticeable participation rate in the 24

PAGE 34

self-employment field. An additional illuminating fact is that, because ofthe fierce competition in the ethnic enclave economy, immigrant women with low educational levels experience a tremendous difficulty moving up the 11Skill (Waldinger and Gilbertson: 442) However, women with lesser academic and job skills are destined to participate in what might be considered as 11peripheral11 markets because of a need to support their families economically (Yamanaka and McClelland, 1994). In addition, the segmentation offemale and male immigrant laborers results in the majority of illegal and unskilled women earning similar wages as women who are skilled and legal. Duleep and Sanders (1993) present another interesting analysis. Supposedly, married immigrant women initially enter the work force to help with the investment of their husbands in U.S. skills. As they do so, they acquire more job experience, and subsequently their wages increase. Nonetheless, both women and men tend to invest in upgrading their U.S. skills and forms of human capital ifthey plan to permanently reside in the United States. Also, the investment in U.S. skills decreases as immigrant men make America their home country. Simultaneously, the participation of immigrant women in the U.S. labor market declines when the skills and, consequently, the income of their spouses grow. 25

PAGE 35

Thus, it appears that job skills have an insignificant effect on the earning ability of immigrant women because of structural factors and limited influence of other complementary variables, like time since migration. Age Since Migration In this section, age\age since migration\or time since migration will have the same meaning since the concept of age\time since migration refer to all periods of an immigrant's life. In the context of economic assimilation, scholars have indicated that the years since migration and work experience influence the earnings of immigrant workers. For example, an immigrant who enters the United States before completing high school is likely to gain more income and move up the professional ladder more quickly than an adult immigrant because of an early exposure to labor in America. Since I could not find any literature which talks specifically about the effect of age on the earning ability of immigrant women, I will apply general findings involving this issue to women. For example, Borjas (1995:238-239) uses 1970, 1980, and 1990 U.S. census data to examine whether time since migration helps close the wage gap between immigrant and U.S. born workers. He first discovers that after two decades of 26

PAGE 36

residency in America, the earning disparity.between immigrants and their U.S.-bom cohorts diminishes by 10%. However, wages of recent immigrants declined by 9% in the 1970s, and continued to decrease by an additional 6% in the 1980s an indication that the wage gap will remain open by 12-15% throughout the lives ofnew immigrants. This depreciation in income structure is associated with a dwindling quality of recent immigrants' skills. Chiswick, Cohen and Zach (1997) analyze the effect ofthe economic condition ofthe U.S. market on the employability and unemployability of immigrants across the same time periods used by Borjas. They discover that employment and unemployment of immigrants from 1970 until the 1990s has not been affected by the cyclical economic condition of the U.S. market. Primarily, "the United States is not among those countries that explicitly link their immigration controls to economic conditions." (Chiswick, Cohen and Zach: 291) In relationship to another issue, Fairlie and Meyer (1996) conclude, for example, that although time since migration and education are significant in determining self-employment of immigrants in the United States, there are other factors which directly cause the dispersion of self-employment among foreign residents. Specifically, discrimination and English inability make self-employment only a desirable likelihood to immigrants. 27

PAGE 37

Thus in the context of these broad issues, it is possible that immigrant women are affected in a similar fashion as their male counterparts. But to maintain consistency in the original pattern of argument, we should note that age since migration does not independently and reliably influence the earning ability of immigrant women. Other complementary variables like education and job skills enhance the economic success of male and female foreign workers. Also, structural factors like U.S. immigration policy, which does not adapt to conditions of the economic market, and discrimination, as it relates to the self-employment issue, have a stronger effect on the economic outcome of immigrants. Country of Origin Scholars develop several arguments around the relationship between country of origin and earning ability of immigrants. Some of these arguments relate to language, job skills\or job experience, and legal status, to name a few. This segment will demonstrate the effect of all these factors on the economic outcome of immigrant women. The language debate is closely associated with Chiswick and Miller (1995) who say that immigrants who originate from non-English-speaking countries tend to 28

PAGE 38

earn lower wages than those who come from English-speaking nations. McDowell and Singell ( 1993:3 58) confirm this hypothesis with numerical data. For example, they say that an averaged lifetime earning of$262,619 for a person from Northwest Europe substantially exceeds that of a person from Africa, $230,080. Nonetheless, other studies show that this wage gap nearly closes with time spent in this country (Duleep and Regets, 1996). In the case ofimmigrant women, the relationship between origin and language is insignificant because the women are clustered in low-paying industries despite where they come from or how well they speak the English language. Chiswick (I 979) also posits that immigrants who come from countries with skills closely related to the U.S. market skills experience a higher wage growth (Duleep and Sanders, 1993). However, other scholars contend that job skills acquired in the country of origin have a marginal influence on the earnings of immigrants. Job skills\or job experience only prepares immigrants for work in the United States, but ultimately, the potential for higher income increases when these individuals learn their skills in America (Chiswick, Cohen and Zach, 1997). In fact, research shows that recent immigrants are more educated and have a higher investment in human capital; but because they continue to lag considerably behind the U.S.-bom cohorts in their skills, they are blamed for lowering the economic standard of the nation. In addition, the U.S. government has allowed many unskilled immigrants with lower levels of education to enter the country through amnesty programs (Tienda and Singer, 1995). 29

PAGE 39

Even when these individuals improve their academic and professional skills, they cannot successfully translate these assets into an economic outcome. Hence, there are several structural factors which weaken the relationship between country of origin and income. Immigrant women reasonably fit in all these situations. There is also the argument that wages markedly vary among people with skills from different regions within a particular country. For example, women from the border and south central areas of Mexico earn higher wages than women from the north central region. However, other studies show that the effect of this intergroup structure disappears among immigrant women who reside and work in the southern regions of the United States. All these women earn lower wages because job opportunities are scarce arid mostly offered to men. The wages improve when these females find employment in the northern cities of America. The next debate is about origin and legal status of immigrants. Borjas and Tienda (1993) report that wage disparity oflegal and illegal aliens increases substantially because of national origin. Supposedly, undocumented immigrants tend to be younger in age, newer to America, less balanced in gender composition (possibly more women than men), and more concentrated in groups from certain countries. The difference in all these respects results in higher labor participation and wages among legal immigrants. On the other hand, illegal immigrants continue to lag in their earning 30

PAGE 40

ability by 30% as a result of their undocumented status. The point is that women are generally destined to earn lesser income than men because of their origin, or other structural factors; but their earning capacity worsens when they enter this country illegally. Network This segment of the literature review discusses network in relationship to the ethnic enclave economy. Two important goals will be achieved by use of this approach. One, network and market entry strategies of immigrant women in the ethnic enclave will be closely examined and exposed. It will be similar to observing people behave in their own environment. Two, the perceptions of network and employment in the ethnic enclave economy as being harmonious social interactions will be corrected. In different terms, the theme of structural factors' influence and the relative insignificance of human capital as it relates to the economic outcome of most immigrant working women will continue. Many immigrants view their participation in the ethnic enclave economy as an opportunity to convert their human capital investments into economic outcomes, a goal which is difficult to achieve at times in the mainstream American market (Nee, 31

PAGE 41

Sanders and Semau, 1994). But according to Waldinger (1994), the making ofthis "immigrant niche" results from relative but important restructuring ofthe economic market. For example, the U.S. government has reduced the competition between immigrants and the natives by creating a "hiring advantage" for immigrant employees and employers which, subsequently, led to a swift growth in social network. Waldinger (1994:27) says: Once in place, ethnic hiring networks are self-reproducing since each new employee recruits others from his or her own group. Thus, the development of the ethnic niche can be seen as an instance of the embeddedness of economics within social relations that generate trust, establish expectations, and create norms. However, the participants in the ethnic enclave are calculating in their business relationship. Nee, Sanders, and Semau (1994: 852) refer to Weber, a scholar, who describes this reality. Weber states: Entrepreneurs may prefer to hire co-ethnic workers for ease of communication and trust, but if labor from an alternative source is more pliant and less expensive, their preferences will shift in that direction. On the other hand, if income and work conditions are better outside the ethnic enclave, employees will seek job opportunities in those areas. In addition, self-interest is embedded in the reasons immigrant entrepreneurs seek employees from the same ethnic background. Basically, it is cheaper to seek new workers through a network of relatives and friends than to hire an private agency or place adds in the newspaper. 32

PAGE 42

Further, most of these employers are participants in what is often considered as an underground economy, where immigrants and undocumented aliens are sought to evade tax payment, state and government regulations, and labor laws. It is often difficult to enforce these laws on these numerous small companies because of the high cost. By contrast, larger firms are easier to regulate. But to participate and gain acceptance in the mainstream economy, the former may increase their distance from ethnic workers and clients. These boundaries may be created by small firms as well. Timothy Bates (1994) contends that most small immigrant firms are likely to fail because the owners investment in human capital (i.e., education, English language, job skills, and financiai capital) is usually low. Typically, companies which are run by foreign individuals with high levels of education, prior U.S. market experience, and substantial financial assets have a significantly higher success rate. Interestingly, when Bates (1994: 687) compares Vietnamese to Asian Indian owners of small businesses, he finds that the former group is more prone to failure (22%) than the latter group (14%) because the latter is less inclined to serve and hire minorities. Villar (1994: 263) adds that .. conflict of interest among local business owners regarding the presence of undocumented workers also impedes their development. .. But there is a fierce competition among employers as well as employees. Hondagneu-Sotelo (1994) describes the several network strategies which immigrant 33

PAGE 43

women use to secure employment in the domestic service sector. Although, jobs in this domain are mostly offered by U.S.-born citizens, the discussion pertains to how immigrant women encourage or hinder each other through the exercise of network tactics. For example, some of these women would not release information to their immigrant cohorts to their clients to avoid competition. Or they would share the information for a fee. It is interesting to find out that most women who have succeeded at breaking through this network were assisted by male immigrants who work as gardeners for white customers. However, not all aspects of network among immigrant women are constraining. Many international working women have gained employment in the United States through a social network. At the same time, most of those who participate in the ethnic enclave prefer to work in the mainstream American economy for "higher wages and fairer work rules" (Nee, Sanders and Sernau: 849). According to Gilbertson (1992) employment in the enclave can be exploitative. Women are paid low wages, have limited opportunities for job mobility, and earn minimal benefits. Because of exploitation, some women may choose to become self-employed in the ethnic enclave. Dallalfar (1994) discusses how Iranian women in Los Angeles are successful in operating home businesses because of their unique strategies. Specifically, during social activities, they are able to use personal skills to collect 34

PAGE 44

information that is pertinent to their enterprises. Simultaneously, they create cultural patterns and support systems which are very beneficial to their emotional well-being Interestingly, Iranian men who seek an opportunity in self-employment cannot duplicate the success of women in operating home businesses because they possess different skills, network, and market strategies This last point illustrates that, once again, network can be enabling and restraining. The enabling aspect of network is that immigrant women have an opportunity to participate in the ethnic enclave economy either through regular work or self-employment. The restraining aspect of network is that most women are not able to translate network into optimal economic outcomes because of exploitation and stringent structural market conditions like labor segmentation or sex and wage discrimination which hinder job mobility and place women even behind immigrant men in the employment and income ranks. This discussion about the dynamics of human capital and structural factors outlines the contribution of immigrant working women to the U.S. economy? First, it has been demonstrated that women have unique employment and market strategies which, in most cases, make them better economic survivors than men Second, the majority of them invest a lot of human capital before and after migration to the United 35

PAGE 45

States, which, if nothing else, makes them good social capital agents. Third, women are allocated in job fields which U.S.-born women seem to abandon. ****** A very important study done by Jensen (1991) helps strengthen the view on the economic contribution of immigrant women and soften the stereotype that immigrants are an economic burden on this nation. The article says that, as secondary earners, women assist their families in coming out of poverty by participating in the labor force. It also reports that "if anything, immigrants eschew welfare as a means of escaping poverty and that "low-income immigrants are more committed to the labor force than to the welfare office as an income maintenance strategy" (Jensen, 1991: 137). Further, legislators who suspect that new immigrants are responsible for the prevalent poverty should seriously consider more realistic data. According to Jensen, these data prove that immigrants, new or old, continue to have low poverty levels compared to even native minority groups (blacks and whites). The reason immigrants seem poorer is that secondary earners have helped reduce poverty among these native groups. In another illuminating study, K.ibria (1994) states that immigrant households with a mixed gender composition overcome economic hardships through a collective 36

PAGE 46

effort of all members of the family. Such a strategy is reinforced through family values which stress the importance of all relatives working toward a common goal. Implicit in this statement is the role of women in the economic adaptation of an immigrant household. In fact, Zhou and Bankston ( 1994) conclude that social capital ranks higher in their judgment than human capital. Social capital is basically a set of positive cultural values. In their study, they found out that Vietnamese youth who originate from families with strong traditional family values and work ethics tend to have a higher propensity for academic achievement and adherence to constructive forms of behavior, which can be translated into a powerful immigrant contribution to the United States. Kao and Tienda ( 1995) argue that immigrant parents, through family values, optimism, and not necessarily "straight-line assimilation" (which possibly constitutes the central argument among educators and government policy makers), have contributed to the advanced scholastic achievement of their offspring. In other words, the involvement of immigrant women in the educational attainment of the children can be interpreted as an important contribution to the host society. To create a new dimension to this discussion, family values and language may be the building blocks of immigrants' social identity. For example, Hurtado, Gurin, and 37

PAGE 47

Peng (1994) talk about how Chicanos have used these two variables to maintain loyalty to their heritage (through family values) and the American society (through mastery of the English language). In addition, it has been demonstrated that English proficiency facilitates good economic outcomes for many immigrant workers. Bankston and Zhou (1995) recognize religious values (not introduced in this literature review but relevant when we hear the stories of the women I interviewed) as a valuable tool which Vietnamese parents and churches have used to reinforce the importance of academic achievements and constructive social behavior among their youth. This is another contribution to the American society. In sum, immigrant people in general and women in particular contribute to the American society in a variety of direct and indirect ways. This broad type of contribution will be captured in the personal stories of the twelve women who participated in this study. 38

PAGE 48

CHAPTER THREE STORIES OF THE TWELVE WOMEN In this chapter, the twelve participants will share their immigrant experience so that the reader will be able to extract concepts which will either confirm the general assumptions that I outlined in the methodology chapter or challenge them. I will use fictitious Arabic names to identify the participants: Malika A, B, C for the housewives, Sabah A, Sabah B, Sabah C and Sabah D for the women in the ethnic enclave and Leila A, B, C and D for women in the mainstream economy. I will also alter some of the women's characteristics to disguise their identity. Housewives MalikaA This is the first woman I interviewed. She is tall and slim, and has a medium complexion. She is 33 years old and has a girl and a boy, ages 6 and 2. She and her 39

PAGE 49

husband are both from Egypt and have been married for five years. Their marriage was arranged by their parents. She married and migrated to the United States 14 days later. She had intended to work in the United States as a secretary but soon started a family and decided to stay at home. In Egypt, she obtained a high school diploma and went to a special institute for two years to learn secretarial skills. When she came to America, she felt the need to re-learn these skills in English and was discouraged because she could not afford to go to school. Subsequently, she felt less confident about entering the work force. Furthermore, she was affected by the experience of her spouse who was discriminated against at work. She told me that her husband requested to have Fridays off to go pray at the mosque, but his supervisor would not allow him. However, a new American female hiree asked to have Sundays off to go to church and was granted pemuss10n. Furthermore, she admits that she has not relied on any social network to find work or people to help her with the children. She is most comfortable dealing with women from her own country. She realizes that she is limiting herself in this way, but claims that she does not want to impose herself on people. She used to feel very homesick but now is getting used to her life in America. Nonetheless, she plans to eventually return to Egypt and establish a business. She has strong views about raising 40

PAGE 50

her daughter in particular in this country. She feels that she will be more vulnerable than the little boy growing up in the United States because she may go the "wrong way", i.e., get pregnant and adopt the open attitudes of the American women. She shares very conservative views about women's role at home and the work place. She is critical of Arab women and thinks, for instance, that because they are not as productive as men, they should stay home and allow men to work. She justifies that, in the general economic scheme, women would share and enjoy the benefits that men get from a job. In addition, she thinks that most Arab immigrants, and particularly the Egyptians, will likely go back to their home countries where they feel culturally more comfortable. She adds that the majority of them immigrate to America to simply earn and save money to facilitate an easier life style in their countries of origin. The story ofMalika A is helpful because it presents the conservative views that some ofthe Arab women have about their culture, religion and the United States. Malika B The first thing I noticed about Malika B is her beautiful skin and hair. She is also soft spoken, age 42, and has one son and five daughters. The oldest daughter is 22. She's been married for 27 years to a Palestinian man who currently owns a jewelry 41

PAGE 51

store in New Mexico. She too is Palestinian. She gave birth to all her children in America and basically considers this country her home. She comes from a relatively large family, and all of her siblings and parents remain abroad. She is currently working on obtaining her GED and states that she learned English by reading books, news papers and by trying to help her children with homework. She claims that she 's never thought about working outside the home because she started a family at a young age and since then has not been able to devote her attention to a career. She also states that the economic condition of her family permits her to be a housewife. But under more compelling circumstances, she states that she would use any reasonable measure to support her family, acknowledging at the same time that she would not be as competitive in the labor market because of her education and lack of work experience. Malika B is a private person, wears Hijab, and practices Islam. Although she has lived in the United States for 25 years, she is greatly influenced by the Arab culture. For example, she reports that her daughters will have arranged marriages. She does not allow her children to date or extensively interact with people outside the immediate and extended family. 42

PAGE 52

Nonetheless, she admits that life in America has changed her into being independent and more assertive. Therefore, she no longer believes that a woman should 11Shine her husband's shoes .. or listen to his orders. She thinks that the relationship between a man and a woman should be based on mutual respect. She contends that she is very close to her husband and children. The story of Malika B shows that having a career is not always on the front agenda of some women. Furthermore, when the life of a woman is tightly shaped by the culture and religion, this woman will potentially act in this country the same way she would in her country of origin. Malika C Malika C was invited by her friend, whom I had just interviewed, to come and participate in my study. She arrived fairly quickly and seemed curious but somewhat nervous, Her reaction was understandable. She shared with me that she was from Palestine. She moved to Kuwait at age 11 and grew up there. She eventually met a Palestinian man through a friend and got married. She also worked as an executive secretary for three foreign organizations for 12 years. That is how she became fluent in English. In fact, she says that she spoke better English while working at these jobs 43

PAGE 53

than she does now. She earned an excellent income, around $3000 a month. Her husband did research for a solar energy firm and gained a high pay too. She hired nannies to take care of her two children and lived a very good life style. Later, due to the Gulf War, she and her spouse were forced to give up their jobs and faced the decision to immigrate to another country. They chose the United States because, first, they used to come and visit her husband's sister at least once every two years. Second, the husband had already become a legal resident of the United States because his sister had helped him obtain the Green Card. The rest ofMalika C's family selected to reside in Aman, Jordan because none of the members wanted to worry about each other's well being. In America, she gave birth to two additional children. Later, she explained to me that all her four offspring were born in the United States. It appears that she must have given birth to the first two children during her visits to this country. Today, she is a housewife. She contends that since her migration to the U.S., five years ago, she and her husband have lived off their savings and several investments. The spouse has been studying the market for a while in order to buy a business. But he too has not worked since they left Kuwait. Malika C claims that she is fairly satisfied with being a housewife until her children grow up. However, she reminisces about her career, family and the life style 44

PAGE 54

she had in Kuwait. Unlike in the present circumstances, she was able to work, have trustworthy women baby sit her children, and spend valuable time with her husband and friends. Presently, her social life has decreased substantially. She lives a very reserved life because she cannot trust anybody with her children. As she says, "this is an open society" and bad incidents can happen. This story shows that personal circumstances can have more impact on the decision to be a housewife than religion or culture. In fact, this woman believes that the Islamic religion and culture encourage the woman to work. But she also thinks that raising children takes priority over a career simply because the children are the responsibility of the parents. Therefore, she and her husband do not adhere to traditional gender roles. They share the parental duty and seem to have mutual respect for each other. They have been married for 16 years. MalikaD I went to see Malika D during Ramadan (the holy month when Arab people fast from sunrise to sunset). She offered me something to drink without being judgmental about why I was not fasting since I was a Muslim. She proceeded to do the interview while she was preparing a big meal for her immediate and extended family to 45

PAGE 55

break fast that day. She shared with me that she had migrated to the United States at age two. She was born in Kuwait. She grew in a strict Arab family and later was sent by her parents to a private high school for four years in Palestine. Her parents wanted her to have a first-hand exposure to the Arabic and Islamic culture. She sounded very grateful to her parents for taking this action. She admits that she was having a great difficulty growing up in a strict Arab family in America. Her parents were very concerned that she would forget about her language and heritage. This experience created a balance in her life because prior to that she had felt very different being around the American kids in school. She could not even go out to a movie with a friend, yet she observed that her American peers had more freedom to date and do other things. She said that she was living in two totally different worlds. Each day after school, she felt that she was going back to "prison". When she was in Palestine, she discovered that many other Arab immigrant girls were going through the same experience. Today, she promises to use this identical approach with her two beautiful daughters. This woman is 30 years old, has been married for nearly 7 years to a man from Lebanon. For the last 4 years, she's been a housewife because she realized that it was more cost effective to stop working and be with the children at home. She argues that day care, daily meals, clothes, and transportation allowances were absorbing most all her income. Her oldest daughter was miserable in day care and frequently got sick. 46

PAGE 56

Her daughter's condition affected her emotionally. In addition, she barely had time for her husband, friends and family because of the heavy work schedule. She then opted to stay at home. She says that she and her spouse live relatively well on a single income. Her husband works as a sales manager at a car dealership and makes a good salary. Malika D was very useful because she unexpectedly talked about several themes which coincided with the current research.For example, she talked about the significant role of education in helping immigrant women deal with the opposite sex in the work place, discrimination, and even the negative and controlling attitudes of Arab men. Precisely, she thinks that the majority of Arab women have a difficult time adjusting to the American culture because they come from an entirely different background. Subsequently, they feel ill-equipped to deal with new conditions in the host society. Also, they have to deal with the Arab men who for cultural and psychological reasons feel threatened to encourage them to experience life as it is in America. Ironically, these men do not deprive themselves of these experiences. Furthermore, she talks about how culture impacts people differently in every Arab country. She spends a great deal oftime comparing the Palestinian with the Lebanese people, and basically looks up to the Lebanese individuals for their pleasant, ambitious, and entrepreneurial attitudes. 47

PAGE 57

In addition, she plans to resume her career in computers and science management. She believes that certain things have certain priority at the different phases of a person's life. Therefore, she is now devoting her time to her children and later will acquire a balance in her life by rewarding herself with a stable career. Most Arab women have not succeeded, she says, at achieving this equilibrium. She is of the opinion that religion, culture, education, personal exposure and outlook on life most certainly create this balance. 48

PAGE 58

Women in the Ethnic Enclave Sabah A Sabah A is an attractive 51 years old woman with a very tempered nature. She belongs to a family of four sisters and two brothers. Her mother died a few years ago and her father continues to reside in Palestine. She was 17 years of age when she married her Palestinian husband. She felt incompatible with him but could not exit the marriage because she moved to Kuwait shortly after the wedding. The husband had lived in the United States for 8 years and obtained a bachelors degree in Agriculture. After living in Kuwait for three years, Sabah A immigrated to America with her husband and two-year-old daughter. She experienced tremendous hardship throughout her marriage. Her spouse was an alcoholic. He also was abusive. He used to lock her up in the house when he went to work. He feared that she would become independent if she got exposed to the American society. Sabah A reasoned that her spouse behaved negatively because he had "too much freedom". Subsequently, she decided to get pregnant in hope that he would change. Unfortunately, he did not. He became more abusive and resented her getting pregnant. He started leaving the house for several days. Sabah gave birth to twin sons. The husband continued to drink and use 49

PAGE 59

inappropriate language around the children. Sabah A did not appreciate this behavior and often engaged in heated arguments with him. Some of these arguments resulted in physical abuse. Sabah A became highly depressed after twenty years of struggling with an unsuccessful marriage. Eventually, she opted to divorce her husband. She was able to have custody of the children and place a restraining order on the husband. At one time, the husband was able to get back into the house and in Sabah's life. Sabah A gave him another chance but he soon resumed his destructive behavior. Sabah A found the courage to move to new place without informing him. Since then she never heard anything from him or about him. The rent at the new apartment was $600, and Sabah A only earned $150 a week. She received financial and emotional help from her siblings and parents. She refused to go back to Palestine because her daughter had started college. In addition, she realized that life was going to be a struggle wherever she went. Therefore, she decided to face life's challenges in this country She worked two jobs for a long time. The daughter also worked and helped buy a few items for the household. One of her sons decided to join the Air Force after his first year of college. The other son is still attending a local university. The daughter eventually obtained her B.S. in Computer Science and Management. 50

PAGE 60

Sabah A feels proud of raising three good responsible children. Nonetheless, she talks about an overwhelming sense of emptiness and sadness. She wishes that she did not go through the experience of three children alone. She discretely envies married couples who seem to get along. She regrets not having a college degree and a broader job experience. She has worked for twelve years for an Arab man in the whole sale jewelry business. This individual offered her a job, gave her a used car for transportation, and assisted her with the payment of a major medical bill when she had a surgery. He was nice to her. Sabah A shows sincere gratitude but simultaneously resents his controlling and judgmental attitude. Her father had asked this man to look after her. Nonetheless, this person tends to overextend his responsibility to being a domineering parental figure. For example, he reproaches her about smiling to male customers and reminds her that religion forbids her from interacting with males the same way she interacts with females. He thinks that a smile constitutes an open invitation to a man to flirt with her and ask her out on a date. On one occasion, he found out that her daughter and her daughter's boy friend were walking in downtown. He reported the news to her and aggressively urged her to have the daughter marry the boyfriend to avoid the shameful gossip ofthe Arab community. She assertively rejected his approach. At the end ofthe interview, she said that has always been "controlled by somebody". Meanwhile, she feels discouraged from seeking change. She states that her age, level of education and only experience in the jewelry business stop her from altering her life. 51

PAGE 61

This is a story of a woman who believes that she had lost control of her life since the day she entered a bad marriage and was moved into an unfamiliar environment. To compensate for this loss, Sabah A developed an amazing ability to endure a damaging marital relationship for 20 years. The down side of endurance is the nagging feeling of loneliness, pessimism, and loss of control over one's life. Thus, a person may go through life never trusting his\her ability to do well in life even when he\she does. Certainly, Sabah has improved her life greatly. She has three successful children, lives in a nice town home that she purchased on her own. She works for a domineering man but loves the nature of her job, the pay and the flexibility ofthe schedule. The problem is that she may always think that these accomplishments would have been more meaningful if she had experienced a good marriage. Sabah B Sabah B is a charming.47-year-old woman, who is a waitress. My first interview with her was interrupted because I had to go to work and she was going to pray at the mosque. The second time she canceled a meeting with a friend to help me finish the interview. She is from Morocco. She's has been in the United States for two years. She fluently speaks four languages: French, Greek, Arabic and Moroccan. She married a Greek man at age 25. She had met him in when he was working for 52

PAGE 62

Moroccan a commercial fleet. Her father owned a small ship and that was how she came in contact with her spouse. She then lived in France for six years, and Switzerland for five years. She stayed married for 17 years until she unexpectedly discovered after coming home a day early from a surgery that her husband was in bed with another woman. She was devoted to her spouse. She chose not to have children because she preferred being with him at all times. She consequently was able to tour the world 11three times ... She also was exposed to different cultures and lives styles. She sounds very proud and lucky to have had this experience. Initially, her family did not approve of her marriage to a 11non-Muslim11 person. But she loved her husband dearly and was willing to fight the odds. She says that that was 11the first battle11 she ever engaged in to 11get the man [she] loved ... Sabah B comes from a family of five brothers and five sisters. She comments that most of them are successful business people and that they are scattered around the world: United Imarates, France, Switzerland and Morocco. After she exited her marriage, she established her own business as a hair dresser in Switzerland. The business was very successful but she became bored with it. Later, she planned to join her siblings in an international business venture. One of her brothers persuaded her to come to America to study international business. She met the challenge of immigrating to America but soon realized that she preferred the life style in Europe. Nonetheless, she is happy about her new experience because of the challenge. 53

PAGE 63

It took Sabah B four years to come to terms with the divorce. She reports that it was very difficult for her to start a new life in Europe. She found out that she could not utilize her degree in French Literature to get a good paying job. But as time passed, she realized that she was a good survivor. She takes small steps toward her goals and eventually meets them. Also, she avoids getting overwhelmed with life's complexities. Recently, Sabah B recovered from a mentally abusive relationship with an American female friend. This friend was romantically involved with one of Sabah's brothers. At one point, this individual visited Switzerland and was well received by Sabah B. When Sabah B immigrated to the U.S., this person returned the favor but also had a hidden agenda. She motivated Sabah to invest money in business projects which were doomed to fail. Sabah B could have lived comfortably for two years without having to work, but she lost all her financial assets. Furthermore, this friend used to confuse Sabah B with continuous mixed messages. This behavior was intended to strip away Sabah's identity and beliefs. Sabah B went to therapy for a year to recover from this relationship. Sabah B is as open and receptive of other cultures and ideas as she is attached to her religion and heritage. For example, she practices Islam and refuses to serve 54

PAGE 64

alcohol to customers at work. Simultaneously, she does not wear hijab and seems modernized in a good sense of the word. This is a story of a woman who experienced some hardship in her life but felt challenged rather than discouraged by her circumstances. Consequently, she was able to move on in life in a good spirit. Sabah C Sabah Cis an ambitious woman from Morocco. She is 39 years old. She taught 5th grade for nearly nine years in her home country. She took an extended leave of absence to visit the United States. In less than three months, she was introduced to a Moroccan gentleman and later married him. She has resided in this country for five years. During this time she held jobs in the fast food service but was unhappy about not working in her field. She says that she never lasted more than three months at these work places. Eventually, she found out about a teacher's aide position at an Islamic school. She interviewed for the position and was immediately hired. She had prepared for an opportunity like this by bringing all the necessary papers to prove her credentials. 55

PAGE 65

She is finally happy about reentering her field. However, she plans to obtain a teaching certificate from an American college and perhaps teach accounting or economics. She comments on how the Moroccan educational system fails to place instructors in their appropriate areas of study. She therefore had to teach Arabic Literature, Mathematics or whatever the school needed her to teach. She was competent but felt that she could be happier teaching a subject that she had majored in. Sabah C reiterates that she is interested in a profession which gives her a sense of purpose more than money. She seems to be intellectual and spiritual. She practices Islam and values the family concept. She spends her spare time with her husband and relatives. I only had a few minutes with her during the interview before her mother, niece and spouse joined us. I was able to get substantial feedback from all these individuals (with the exception of the mother who remained silent throughout the discussion) on education, marital relationships, and culture. Sabah C seems to have an open and egalitarian relationship with her husband. Nonetheless, she maintains that her spouse be the main financial provider in the house. Sabah C seems comfortable with the choice of not having children. She is goal oriented and aspires to steadily improve herself When I called her a few months later after the interview, she informed me that she was attending Summer school to learn English. She wants to increase her marketability in the Education field. In addition, she 56

PAGE 66

realizes that her teaching career at the Islamic school might be short-term since the school is non-profit. Meanwhile, she continues to demonstrate her competence at the school. Staff and students trust her ability as a instructor. When I asked her if she felt confident about moving up to a principal's position, she replied 11yes11 This is a story of a woman who is determined to meet her goals even outside a familiar environment. Sabah D Sabah D is an attractive 3 7 four years old female from Palestine. She is married and has three girls and one boy. She married her cousin when she was 17 years of age and migrated to the United States. She has been in this country for 16 years. She comes from a family of ten siblings. Her mother died a year later after her migration. Her family lived in Kuwait for many years. Miraculously, three weeks before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the entire family was able to come to America. Her father bought a business and seems to do well. Such an event eased Sabah's mind about the family. Sabah D had high school education and hardly spoke English when she arrived in this country. Her husband owned a grocery store but had problems generating 57

PAGE 67

profit. Sabah D wanted to combine her efforts with her husband in running a new business. Subsequently, they bought a restaurant. At the outset, they experienced some difficulty in operating the business. Later, they hired a Jordanian Chef who turned their restaurant around by attracting a lot ofbusiness. Unfortunately, this person appeared to have intentions of dominating the business and its owners. Therefore, he was dismissed and Sabah D was able to take over his duties. Today, the husband takes care of the financial aspect of the business and she handles the menu and employees' relations. She reports that this division of responsibilities has helped the partnership and the business tremendously. Presently, the business is very profitable. Sabah D reports that she over extended herselfbetween work in the restaurant and raising a family. She never relied on anybody for help with the children. She dislikes passing on her responsibilities to other people. She used to take her babies to work and nurse them with a bottle near the cash register. Other times, she used to leave them in a big van at the restaurant's parking lot while she worked. Currently, her youngest child is in school full time and she seems to be happier and more relaxed. The children are good and well. Sabah D continues to keep a very busy schedule taking care of the same responsibilities. In addition, she spends three hours every evening with her father. 58

PAGE 68

Also, she periodically helps close the store. She finds strength in deliberately forgetting about all the tasks that she does each day. Despite this strenuous activities, Sabah D feels proud of her achievements. She has reached her financial independence. Also, she feels stronger and more confident dealing with people. She extends her gratitude to her husband for helping her develop this confidence. She says that he always encourages her to reach her utmost potential in everything. She used to feel extremely nervous any time she took a customer's order. Today, she supervises 15 employees. She knew English well but would not speak around her husband for nearly a year. She was terrified about learning how to drive a vehicle, but her spouse kept motivating her until she accomplished this goal. Generally, she is happy about her life and marital relationship. This is a story of a woman who seems to know how to take advantage of a good support system (namely husband and family) to enhance her life in a more positive way. Also, she obviously deserves everything that she worked for. 59

PAGE 69

Participants in the Mainstream American Market Leila A Leila A was the first Arab woman I asked to interview during an Arab students' activity. She declined but at a much later point she agreed to participate in my study. I accidently recorded another interview over a portion of her interview. So I requested if I could recapture the lost part of the interview and she responded positively. I had to wait for her until she returned from a vacation. My mother accompanied me during the second interview. After I parted with Leila A and joined my mother, my mother exclaimed "what a beautiful young lady she is! She would be an ideal girl for your brother." I replied "mother, she is a 28 years old married woman with three adorable children. She is happily married to a big strong man." My mother murmured "Oh!" Leila A works part time for one of her professors and attends classes in Education and Counseling. Initially, she wanted to have children and be a housewife. She shares the story ofbeing miserable because she could not get pregnant easily. Eventually, she had a little boy but continued to express desire to have more children. Her husband struggled with her on this issue and urged to get a job preoccupy her mind. This was the primary reason for Leila A to become employed. Eventually she 60

PAGE 70

was able to have two more children. Leila A admits that her husband continues to encourage her to go back to school every semester. He tells her that "he does not care if she hangs her diploma over a toilet so long as she finishes college". He is more concerned with fulfilling a promise to her father that he would send her to a university. Leila A is an intelligent woman. She was born in Canada and migrated to the United States with her parents at age 3. She constitutes an exception in this study because she technically is not an Arab immigrant woman.-Nonetheless, the way she was brought up demonstrates that she is very suitable for this project. Precisely, she grew up in very strict and respectable Arab family. She is married to a man from Saudi Arabia. Every morning, she and the children would line up behind her husband who leads them in the Islamic prayer. (Females always line up behind men in an Islamic prayer). She talks about some young girls who visited her parents from Palestine. It was a Friday and these young ladies were going to attend the mosque in shorts and T shirts. Leila's father reproachfully sent them to their room and asked them to change into different clothes. Another time, these same girls witnessed Leila's family pray together during Ramadan. The girls were astonished to find out that an Arab family in America would be more serious about practicing Islam than most people in the Arab world. 61

PAGE 71

Leila A plans to continue her employment until she finishes her degree. Later, she would like to be a housewife. She feels that she can live comfortably on her husband's income. Her spouse is a computer engineer. She also hopes to reside for a while in Saudi Arabia. Her husband owns a house there. He had worked hard when he was a young man and was able to buy the house, put his brothers through college, and support his sisters financially. Later, his siblings returned the favor by sending to college in America. He resumed his independence when he married Leila. Leila reiterates that he is a very ambitious and competitive man. Hence, she doubts that he would relocate to Saudi Arabia. She thinks that he would like to test his potential in this country, and perhaps buy a business. Leila A does not think of her current job as a career but hopes to use it as a reference when she decides to reenter the work force in the future. Leila B Leila B migrated from Palestine to the United States at age 17. She has resided in this country for 30 years. She joined her father in New York when he was importing merchandise from overseas to sell in America. She was married once to her cousin, but the marriage failed because her husband 11 assimilated 11 faster in this culture than she did. Furthermore, she felt that he was jealous of her academic ability. 62

PAGE 72

Leila B came to the U.S. with a high school diploma. She intended to go to college but could not afford tuition. Also, she was unaware of how to obtain financial aid or grants from school. Later, she was able to take several courses in business but never completed her degree. Prior to that, she had taken classes in computers and soon switched to accounting but lost interest. Her deepest intention was to become a doctor. During her second marriage to an Egyptian man, she moved back to New York to be with her dying father. She still did not pursue her education because she felt intimidated by life in a big city. In addition, she gave birth to a baby boy and felt concerned about his safety. She believed that there was enough danger in that town. Leila B has been employed since her early years of migration because of economic reasons. Previously, she worked. at couple banks and enjoyed.her experience tremendously. When she returned to Denver, she decided to work at the two schools where her son goes. Her son attends an American school as well as an Islamic school. She has some reservations about the things that the kids get exposed to in this country; therefore, she maintains a strict surveillance of her son. She opted to be a teacher's aide at the American school to stay closer to her son. At the Islamic school, she is managed to teach her son's class. Her son is still in kinder garden. She realizes that she could avoid her financial struggles by securing a new position at a bank; but she overrides this option because she fears not spending enough time with her boy. Leila B 63

PAGE 73

realizes that she may be overprotective of her son; but she had him when she was 3 8. Today, she is 45 years old and feels that he is the most important thing in her life. Leila B is saddened by the fact that her husband is Veterinarian but cannot obtain a medical license in America. A medical degree from a foreign country is non transferable to the United States. Consequently, Leila's husband works at a gas station and earns meager wages. Furthermore, Leila talks about how he is exploited because he works long odd hours and never gets promoted to a higher position Leila B wishes that her husband could practice veterinary medicine so that she can be a full-time housewife. Many times, she has discussed the possibility of moving to Egypt where her spouse would work in his field. Nonetheless, this type of practice is not as popular and profitable in Egypt as it is in America. Therefore, it will be extremely difficult to do well economically. Furthermore, they currently do not have an accumulated wealth to establish their own business. Leila C Leila C shares an interesting story of how she immigrated to America. She met a man who had come from the United States to visit Palestine. The meeting took place 64

PAGE 74

on a Friday and she planned to marry him the following Saturday. Meanwhile, she did not see him for the duration of the week. On Monday after the wedding, she came to this country. She arrived 45 minutes early in Colorado Springs but her husband was not at the airport to receive her. She panicked and started showing his pictures to other passengers in hope to find him. She thought she was laughed at by making this gesture. She could not contact him because she did not have his home or work number. Eventually, he picked her up. The marriage has lasted 21 years, and today she is willing to challenge any person who does not believe that arranged marriages can work. While Leila C was in Palestine, she was able to secure a teacher's aide position at a private school because of her exceptional academic performance. She was the only individual among 15 staff members who could teach without a teaching certificate. She felt well respected and received by the Israeli sector. She was aware of being one of the few Arab citizens who could have had a brighter future working beside the Jewish people. Sadly, the conflict interfered with these aspirations. She worked for $15 a month but the cost of transportation to and from work amounted to $20. The family discouraged her from this job because it did not pay well. Also, as a female, she was expected to wait on male members of the family. To challenge these expectations, she opted to keep her job, crocheted sweaters, aprons and purses and sold them to pay for transportation. She admits that a combination of living a stressful abnormal life under 65

PAGE 75

the Israeli occupation and being pressured to adhere to the traditional gender roles increased her hope to marry away from the family. She used to dream of coming to America because of the good things that she had heard about this country as a teenager. In America, an Arab friend helped get a job as an Arabic instructor at the Air Force academy in Colorado Springs. Her husband was an enlisted member ofthe same branch of service. Later, she worked at different banks and was able to move up the career latter from a teller's position to a supervisor's position. She was earning $35,000. a year but realized that the cost maintenance of food, clothes, baby sitting and transportation exceeded the benefits of keeping the job. She says that she used to barrow an additional $1000 from her spouse to get through the month. Following this experience, she decided to be self-employed in the house keeping business. She worked in this field of a long while and generated a $60,000. income each year. She felt fulfilled because of the financial aspect of the profession. However, she grew tired and bored of the job because, between being a mother of four children and a maid, she felt isolated from the outside world. She then decided to pursue a purposeful profession in the travel industry. She had studied the field when she was in Palestine. She also had taken enough courses in Arabic Literature and .banking to obtain what is equivalent of a bachelors degree in an America. Currently, she seems very happy with her job at a travel agency. 66

PAGE 76

Leila's husband works for the U.S Treasury department They live in a beautiful home with four children, three girls and one boy Leila C expresses that her satisfaction with the marital relationship is 12 on a scale of 10. She talks about how her American experience has transformed her into a better person, wife and parent. She has learned to live happily in the context of two different cultures She uses a figurative speech to express her deepest gratitude for the values and skills that she inherited from her "birth mother--Palestine" and "adoptive mother-America". She places no judgement on how people live their lives in both cultures For example, she would no longer blame an Arab woman for working outside the home and leaving her children with a baby sitter because she realizes that this might be a necessary choice In addition, she too played the role of a traditional Arab wife and mother. Today, she is able to play a additional role of a confident professional woman who tries to fulfill an obligation to herself Leila D I was able to interview Leila D twice. The first taped discussion was totally unclear Therefore, I called her and asked her for a second interview She complied graciously Leila Dis 34 years old Palestinian woman She immigrated to this country at age 6. At age 10 she was sent by her parents to Palestine to study Arabic language 67

PAGE 77

and culture. Later, she returned to the United States to graduate from high school. She got married at age 18 and entered the work force to provide for her family and husband who was still attending college. She gave birth to two boys and one girl. Currently, she holds a teacher's assistant position at her children's school. She teaches computer classes. Also, she baby sits the neighbors' children at her home. She realizes that she does not earn a large income; but she is happy with the decision of spending more time with her family. She seems to play a more active role in the daily activities of her children than the husband. Her spouse is presently focused on becoming self-employed in the accounting field. When I visited her, he was overseas exploring a business opportunity. Leila D worked at her family's grocery store when she was a teenager. Later, she was hired by different banks to do accounting and budgeting. She was able to work in the same capacity for a bank when she moved with her husband to Kuwait. She was very helpful in drawing differences between work environment in America and Kuwait. She states that people in Kuwait behaved like a family at work. However, she thought that employers acted like they owned their employees. Workers did not get compensated for the extra hours of work. They were expected to do so. Furthermore, employers made it clear that their employees were lucky to have a job. Leila D does not call this "professionalism". She is very appreciative of how workers 68

PAGE 78

are treated in the United States. However, she realizes that some Americans do not possess good work ethics. They are motivated by money and tend to spend a minimum amount of energy in meeting their responsibilities. Leila D admits that she would like to become a full-time housewife after her husband builds his business. She feels that she has worked for many years to support her family and spouse and that it is now her tum to stay at home. In addition, she wishes for her mother and sister in law to move a place of their own. It has been five years since they resided in her house. Generally, Leila D seems to be happy with her life and marital relationship. Observation It is striking to notice the strong resemblance between the three women who migrated to the United States at an early age and the traditional women. Leila A, B and D are awaiting the opportunity to be housewives. They seem attached to the Islamic culture and religion. They also appear less focused on career and education. Obviously, Leila A and D had to work in lieu of furthering their education. Nonetheless, the general tendency among this group of women merits attention. I cannot help but think of a statement that was made by a Lebanese woman, who I 69

PAGE 79

could not interview formally because she refused to participate in my study. She mentioned that the majority of Arab women feel less invested in furthering their education and career because they know that they are expected to adhere to the traditional gender roles at some point in their lives. Of course there are some exceptions where women like Leila C become assertive about fulfilling their goals. However, it seems like the prerequisite for a woman to meet these goals is to first break from the social norm and establish her independence and freedom. The other requirement is to have a solid support system. 70

PAGE 80

CHAPTER FOUR ANALYSIS OF THE IMP ACT OF CULTURE, RELIGION AND FAMILY The first goal in this chapter is to find evidence in the stories which were presented in the third, fourth and fifth chapter to answer the main question in this thesis: what factors contribute to the decision of Arab immigrant women in America to stay at home or participate in the labor market? The second goal is to seek more elements in culture, religion, family relationships, and the immigration experience to discover how they affect the decision of these women regarding the same issue. At this point, I will present several quotes from the interviews to support all phases of this analysis. Also, I will demonstrate how this study complements the existing research and surpasses it in exposing new dimensions of immigrant employment issues. In the group of housewives, all four women apparently have different life experiences which bring into focus the various reasons why they decided to work on the home front. For example, Malika A immigrated to this country from Egypt at age 27 with a high school diploma, non-transferable secretarial skills, and inability to speak the English language. All these elements made her feel that she could not secure a job in the office administration field. In addition, she gave birth to two children shortly 71

PAGE 81

after her immigration to the United States. Such an event complicated her decision about work. More importantly, there is evidence in her views about culture, religion, and spousal relationship which show how she gave priority to raising a family. On the other hand, Malika D immigrated to America when she was two years of age. She obtained her B.S. in Computer Science Management, participated in the mainstream American economy for several years, speaks the English language better than Arabic, and receives support from her husband to have a career if she chooses to. In other words, Malika D has all the individual assets that Malika A lacks. Nonetheless, she too decided to be a housewife because of her two young daughters. She states that she realized that the cost of working outside the home outweighed the cost ofbeing with her family. Furthermore, she allows herself to be influenced by the Arab culture because she realizes the benefits of how her parents brought her up. Today, she openly admits that she will use a similar approach in raising her own children. Essentially, Malika A and Malika D feel more comfortable and assured about the safety of the children as they raise them in accordance with the Arab tradition. They both report that adopting an open method of child-rearing, like the majority of Americans, would make their job as parents more challenging. Malika B and Malika C stand on two ends of another spectrum. Malika B came to the United States when she was 16 years old. She then started a family of six 72

PAGE 82

children and never thought about having a career. Furthermore, she says that shes always understood that the sole purpose of women in her culture is to raise a family. Also, her husband has been able to provide her and the children with a good life; therefore, she does not need to have a job. On the other hand, Malika C had an excellent career in Kuwait and was able to enjoy the benefits ofbeing a mother, a wife, and a professional woman. This lifestyle changed when she lost her job to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and came to America. She now considers being a housewife for many years because of her children. Naturally, she reminisces about her career and lifestyle in Kuwait but does not consider raising her children in a way other than the traditional Arab way, whereby children are highly supervised. Also, she may work with her husband when he purchases a business. Thus, it appears that Malika B and Malika C have different reasons for being housewives. Malika B is a housewife because of how she views her position as a woman in her culture and, also, the economic stability of the family which does not require her to get a job. Malika C is a housewife because she cannot recapture the same lifestyle that she enjoyed in Kuwait, and the fact that she wants to raise her children in the context of the Arab culture and tradition. 73

PAGE 83

In sum, here are four women who offer four different reasons for being housewives. In my view the only story which confirms researchers' idea on how language, age since migration, education, and job skills interfere with an immigrant's ability to secure a well-paying job is Malika A's story. I realize that Malika A is more compelled to think about how these assets are affecting her current immigrant life; she and her husband are economically disadvantaged. But I am also aware that Malika B and Malika C, for instance, would not consider these assets as obstacles because, as they stated in their interviews, they have enough confidence to obtain the jobs that they want. ****** In the next segment of this analysis, the focus will be on women who work in the enclave and those who participate in the mainstream American economy. The purpose is to discover their reason for working outside the home. In the group of women who are employed in the enclave, Sabah A began work for a Palestinian jeweler after she exited a very troubled marital relationship. She had three children to support, and her ex-husband was not involved in the welfare of the children. She struggled for years to maintain two jobs and luckily received some help 74

PAGE 84

from her parents, her siblings, and her current Arab employer. Therefore, Sabah A entered the work force because of a financial hardship and the need to support her family. Sabah B was also motivated to work outside the home because she lost all financial assets in failed business investments. Also, she is currently supporting herself through college. In the meantime, she plans to join her brothers in an international business venture as she continues to reside in the United States. However, it would help to remember that Sabah B has always worked since she divorced her husband. She worked in Europe and did very well financially. But essentially she worked to SUfVIVe. Sabah Cis another woman who has a long employment history. She worked as a teacher in Morocco and was eventually able to re-enter the educational field after she had worked in the fast food service for a few months shortly after her immigration to America. However, she did not work for a financial reason when she was in Morocco. In the United States, she works to be able to periodically assist her husband with bill payments. But she also makes sure that her spouse reimburses her for any money she spends on bills. In the interview, Sabah C reports that she works to stay mentally active and grow spiritually from the experience ofbeing a productive member in society. 75

PAGE 85

Sabah D is committed to being in business with her husband to provide the best lifestyle possible for her family. The partnership with her spouse has been very successful; and she intends to remain self-employed to sustain her economic independence. Also, she obviously is a hard-working and ambitious individual. It appears that all the women in the enclave are working for financial reasons. The importance of working for a family member or someone from the same ethnic group is that it is a stepping stone. I can say this based on my own experience. I was able to learn the language and discover what employment in the United States entailed when I worked for and with people from Morocco. But I was happier and gained more self-confidence when I eventually was able to hold and maintain a job in the mainstream American market. Sabah B and Sabah C too openly state that they await the opportunity to be participants in the American work force or to be self-employed. On the other hand, some individuals like Sabah A never pick up the courage to discontinue their jobs in the enclave because of personal reasons. Finally, there are those people who invest in being self-employed, like Sabah D. Leila A held three different jobs before she got married. During her marriage, she was encouraged by her husband to find work because she was absorbed by the idea of wanting more than one child. Later, she worked for her college professor to gain experience and use it for future job referral. Leila A reiterated in the interview 76

PAGE 86

that she was not working for financial reasons. Her husband makes a good income. Furthermore, she aspires to be a housewife when she finishes her college degree in Education and Counseling. Also, as long as she is pressured by her spouse to finish her degree, she wants to keep working. On the other hand, Leila B has worked for financial reasons since she was a teenager. Previously, she had a promising career in the banking field. Today, she is holding a teacher's aide position in the Arab and American sector because she would like to constantly stay involved in her 6-year-old son's life. Therefore, she has compromised a well-paying career for the task of raising her only child. Leila C has participated in the work force for different reasons since her migration to the United States. First, she worked to stay occupied. Later, she sought employment to help support her immediate family. Presently, she works to enhance her personal and spiritual growth, particularly since she feels that she has done extremely well in meeting her spousal and parental obligations. Subsequently, she is no longer motivated by financial reasons. She too reports that her husband would support her in the decision to stay at home if she chose to. Leila D worked at her father's grocery store to help support the family business. Later, she worked to assist her husband through college and support her 77

PAGE 87

children. Presently, she continues this same responsibility because her spouse wants to be self-employed. But eventually, she would like to relinquish this duty to the husband and become a housewife. She feels entitled to being with the children more and having time off from work. It is striking to find that three out of four women in this last group, namely Leila A, Leila B, and Leila D are awaiting the opportunity to become housewives. Yet, these are the women who were educated, grew up in this country, and therefore are less likely to give up their careers because of the American influence. This observation will launch a further analysis of the influence of culture, family, religion, and the immigration experience. 78

PAGE 88

The Impact of Culture Housewives It appears that the decision to work inside or outside the home is truly based on how women perceive their role in society. When I asked Malika A about how she viewed a working woman, she replied: "I think it's good that a woman works; but she must work and take care of her home. She cannot afford to neglect her household duties" (translated interview, p.8). She presents this opinion about women who work in America. However, she discloses a strong bias against working women in Egypt. She says, "I really don't like women to work in Egypt. Of course there are women who work in Egypt, but their work is not necessary. When a woman goes to work, she does not do any work; her work is at home" (p.8). I asked her if she firmly believed in this; she replied, "Certainly. To me a woman should stay home so that she will have a chance to do her work ... .I think that women should stay home to give a chance to men to go out and get jobs" (p.8). Malika B gives the following reason for being a housewife: "When I got married, I never thought that I would work outside the home" (interview, p.6). 79

PAGE 89

Essentially, this is how she perceived her role in society before and after immigration to the United States. It is very important to keep in mind the age when these two women developed the perception of their roles in society and the circumstances they lived under after immigration to the United States. Malika A came to this country at age 27. Therefore, by the time she came to America, her perception had already turned into a conviction. This is evidenced by the attitude that she had when she needed to look for a job in America. She said that her inability to speak the English language fluently and transfer her skills into the U.S. labor market interfered with her job search. Also, she added that having two children shortly after immigration complicated her decision about work. While these reasons are valid, it is also clear that her belief in the traditional role of women has played a strong part in her decision to be a housewife. Further evidence is shown in the response she gives to the following question: Q How do you manage living on a small income? A A smart woman knows how to make do with her husband's income. She buys the necessary things. I attest that many women in the Arab world would give the same answer to this question. Women are socialized to think and take pride in handling the financial affairs of the family in a thrifty manner. This is true particularly when the family is economically disadvantaged. Usually, the qualitative term for this managerial ability is 80

PAGE 90

"smart". In the end, this attitude about the money ties into how women are conditioned to believe that their most social and economic contribution occurs when they do not compete with men over jobs and begin to accept and value their role as conventional women. On the other hand, Malika B immigrated to America when she was 16 years old. The only perception of her role as a woman was to get married, have children, and be a housewife. Her perception was further reinforced when she came to this country, started a family of six children and was not obligated to find work because of the financial stability of her spouse. "Here we were comfortable that I didn't have to go and work. .. and I had three kids to take care of constantly; three babies ... then I got pregnant again ... and I was always busy." (p.6) One might argue that Malika B's attitude would have changed had she possibly had to work outside the home. This is especially true because she was younger and more impressionable when she landed on this soil. Malika C lived in an Arab country where women were encouraged to work. When I asked her how people viewed a working woman in Kuwait, she responded: "It's normal because everybody works back there, women, men, everybody. So, it's just normal to see all women work. ... Everybody worked, Saudis, Kuwaitis, everybody; and which makes it easier for the woman to go and work is because they 81

PAGE 91

can have a maid, somebody, you know, to help in the house and tal_ce care of the kids, and this is really important" (interview, p. 1-2). In addition, Malika C enjoyed a long and successful career in Kuwait. She adhered to the role of a housewife only upon her immigration to the United States. The Arab culture shaped her employment decision in a subtle way because of the inherent difference in child-rearing in America and the Arab world. The following dialogue will reveal her concern about this difference: Q How has your experience been living in the United States? A My experience here is nice .... But on the other hand, difficult for the different mentality. Q How do you feel that? A Mainly the kids; that's the main concern. What they learn from the outside, from school, from the Americans. While our background is totally different and also we want to it that way. We really don't expose a lot and be like Americans. We will never learn to do that stuff Q A lot of time we say we don't want to be like them, but have you had any problems with the kids going to school or encountering Americans? Why would you have this attitude? A Not, I would not say I never had any problems but I could see things, what they pick up from school, what they pick up from the TV, this open minded, a lot of questions, a lot of things that we shouldn't know at this age. Q What is wrong with being open minded? A I don't mean open minded. They get to see things, be exposed to things that we don't want them to. Q Such as? A Sex, violence; this is the main two things. Q Do you think you'll always do this? A We'll always keep control ofthis. We always keep an eye. 82

PAGE 92

Malika D opted to be a housewife because she realized that the benefits of being with her two young daughters outweighed the benefits of keeping a job. I had my first child and continued to work and decided that financially and emotionally that it was better to stay home at the time being when my kids are small, and figured that I would have kids now and get it over with and then go back to my career. I asked why it was financially better to stay at home. She answered: These days day-care costs a lot of money, and you have to supply them with food and drink and everything. Also when the first time you're employed, you have to have the right clothing, you eat lunches. I figured that my money was going just because my child is in day care. So, it's better just to stay home and try to save me money and little and just stay it's better for the children to have their mothers when they're young because our mother did that... So I think that's a plus anywhere. Also, Malika D was profoundly affected when her parents sent her to Palestine during her high school years to learn the Arabic language and traditions. I think it was very good for me because I got at least to learn a little bit of my language more, which helps me now with my social activities and with my husband because I can talk to his friends and feel comfortable, and I could still write Arabic. I took sixth grade Arabic and just think it's a big influence just like I continued Ramadan. I can explain to my children about my prayers. I think it's very interesting; and then all the girls that were with me overseas, they were all from the same background; they're all in America. Their parents decided to send them overseas to learn Arabic and religion. 83

PAGE 93

Essentially, Malika D wants her daughters to have the same experience. "I think just because I lived overseas when I was young, I'll never regret it in my life; and I think I want my kids to be able to do the same thing." (Interview, p.l5) When I inquired about the good aspects that she appreciated about the Arab culture, she replied: "the good aspect is that you learn about your culture and the things that you could do to teach your children like Ramadan, and fasting, and the Arab dresses, just all these little things." (Interview, p.23) In the same breath, she compares the Arab culture to the American culture: They [Americans] give too much freedom to their children the way I see it. They don't have that restrictiveness; everything is too much freedom. They don't have the limitations; and we have limitations and they're too much. That's why it's good to find yourself in the middle. You want to give your children experiences in life but you're going to limit them so that they don't go beyond your culture because if they want to marry too one day, they become in the Muslim culture. I asked if what she was interested in was the positive restrictions of the Arab culture. She said: That's right [and added] and just showing them things like you go to the mosque and show them how people pray, and they do that overseas; and you show them another thing. There is something, at least, around them here that when they go overseas, they would say 'oh! we have that in America'. I mean we have now a mosque everywhere. Yes, and I was raised here and I still have my traditional thinking; I mean I'm going to be strict on my daughters. 84

PAGE 94

Thus, there are two main reasons which shaped Malika ns decision to stay at home. One, the concern about the cost of day care. Two, the desire to help her two daughters develop a deep appreciation for the Arab culture. Enclave Participants It has been demonstrated earlier in this analysis that Sabah A, B, C, and D are working in the enclave for financial reasons. The chief task in this segment of the project is to show how the Arab culture is affecting them in the work place. Sabah A works for a very religious Arab man who does not hesitate to express his expectations of an Arab woman in the work place. Sabah A describes her boss as follows (Note: English composition rules are ignored to preserve the authenticity of this dialogue.): He is 70 years. Hes very religious man and his mentality is different from the mentality of that I lived because my father hes not that strict. Hes very strict because he has five girls and two boys. They dont even joke or talk in a loud voice when hes around. They fear him. His son is married and has five boys; he cannot smoke in front of him. Too bad hes in two different things. Hes working with me and hes living in the environment where he raised his family and kids. 85

PAGE 95

On the other hand, Sabah A has a different mentality because of the environment she grew up in. We have in my family, me especially, my family wasn't very strict, like my father or my mother; we were never strict My father used to be the mayor of our town and he always, always had company in the house. We have men in the house; he would never say "oh! go hide; there is men" or something; always, always with people. This difference in mentality caused occasional friction between Sabah A and her employer. For example, Sabah A is expected to treat women differently from men. For him you smile for the lady but you cannot open your mouth and smile for the man. I said "you can't. A customer is a customer. I don't care if he's a man or a woman; he is a customer." [He replies] "No, no don't be close with the men. They know you're divorced and they want to take advantage", and nobody is taking advantage of me. Divorced! So you see this is the mentality that they believe in, that when you're smiling and being good to the customer, and for me I don't think of it as a man or woman, he's my customer. For my boss, he think when you're smiling and being friendly with the man, that means he know you're divorced and he's gonna take advantage of that. I was very upset one day. I told him "why don't you close the business and go overseas if this is what you think. Either you treat the customers the same or ... I don't know, everything is hard actually. There is nothing easy. In response to Sabah A's attitude, the employer would say: You're the only one who ever answer me back. You answer me back, why? I want to know why; and not my wife, not my kids answer me back. 86

PAGE 96

Then Sabah A would mention, "Well I have to tell you that you're not right about everything. There is things right; there is things wrong". The boss would immediately challenge Sabah A "No, no rm always right. You must listen to me." Thus, the influence of the Arab culture is well pronounced in the relationship between Sabah A and her employer. The boss tries to be controlling because of his religious and cultural beliefs. Sabah A does not promote her employers behavior but feels dependent on him and the job in many ways. Furthermore, she makes a profound statement about her life experience. Maybe it's my fault in a way because I came from a family where we have overseas that you cannot do anything. You have to go straight from school to the house, from the house to school. You cannot visit friends. When I went to my husband, again that's it. You have to stay home. He used to work and come home at 7:00 O'clock. The door was locked. I cannot even open the door and go out. If fire happened in the house, I cannot go because he locked the door and he have the keys with him. He don't want anyone to visit me or he don't want me to go out. He said "you're too young and maybe a problem might happen. So he used to lock the doors and go to work. ... So I left my husband and worked for somebody who turned out to have the same mentality. So it's from one to another. Now, rm thinking that's it. It's too late for me and rm 49 years old and went from one person to another and everyone with a mentality worse that the other. That's it. What am I gonna do? A more positive aspect of this relationship is about loyalty. Sabah A explains her boss's protective behavior as follows: "Every time he go overseas, my father 'take care of[Sabah A]. you're responsible ofher; you, you.' So that's it for him". 87

PAGE 97

In tum, Sabah A reciprocates this loyalty by showing gratitude: Well of course he knew my father and he knew the whole family. He knew my situation, and I'll tell you he is like my uncle. Everybody now know that he's my uncle. They think he's my father's brother; He takes a good care. He help me a lot. He know my situation. .. I don't have a car when I left my husband. He have an old car that he was gonna sell it. He gave me the car. I will never forget that; and he start of course raising my salary and all that. We have our moment. Sometimes we argue. He's from the old country. He's still the old, old fashion ways; but for me he was really exactly like my father. This sincere appreciation, deep understanding, and forgiveness demonstrate a profound sense of loyalty. Loyalty is something that people in the Arab world expect from each other. It is part of the culture. Therefore, it is not unusual to find individuals who show their loyalty in extreme ways, like Sabah A's boss. Also, it is not uncommon for people who receive loyalty, like Sabah A, to reciprocate it out of a sense of responsibility, pride, and desire to be accepted. Like loyalty, there are other values which dictate the behavior of an Arab immigrant woman in the work place. Some of these values will surface when Sabah B talks about her conduct at work and her customer relationships. First, she describes how the Arab culture affects her as a waitress. (Here again no corrections have been made to preserve the authenticity of the dialogue). Yes, it [the Arab culture] has a good positive effect on my work as a waitress because when you go to Moroccan house and you go to 88

PAGE 98

Moroccan family, they do absolutely care awfully a lot about you. They offer you things. They're pleasing you. They're treating you like you're really the queen; and that's what I do for every customer. That's why I make a good money. I got more tips than the others because I make everyone feel like he's not in a restaurant; he's feeling like a guest in this place. That's why my culture helped me in this job; the way we are. Then I use it for my job and given good result for it. Thus, Sabah B is hospitable toward the clients because that is what she learned in the Moroccan culture. Another value that she believes in is honesty. The hardest thing with me was as being a waitress is to be, as a waitress, you have to be even if the customer is wrong, you cannot argue with him and it's not my nature not to argue with the people. He's wrong, I would say 'no sir, you're wrong. you didn't tell me that.' And you know may times the customers they order you something, they just change their mind. They would not tell 'I change my mind'. They tell you 'you made a mistake. You deal with it.' 'No, I didn't make mistake sir. You really told me this.' And then all of the sudden I see the boss, 'It's okay sir. We'll take care of it. [Sabah B] don't argue with the customer.' 'But he was lying. He didn't tell me he wanted this. He wanted that.' And if I was wrong, I would apologize. He would say 'Never mind, just don't argue.' Then she talks about a frustrating incident which happened with a client. One time a customer came and she ordered a gyros sandwich. She got the sandwich. She went and twenty minutes later, she came back with a small piece of the gyros. All left is the small piece and she said she didn't like it. I said 'how come? You didn't like the last bite of it only?' Well I can't imagine that somebody had all the sandwich, which was a big sandwich, and she brought me just a small piece of pita bread and she said she didn't like the sandwich. She wanted her money back! So, give me my sandwich back. I give your money back. And my boss said 'Well you want her to vomit?' I said 'No, but she's a liar.' You see, this I can't help. I don't stand the people who lie and cheat on me. Come and 89

PAGE 99

tell the truth and you got all you want from me ... Yes many times things like this happen, but fortunately it wasnt every day. Obviously, honesty is not a unique value to the Arab or Moroccan culture. Honesty is a human and universal value, but it is an endangered species in a market economy. It can be argued that a service-oriented society does not seem to challenge people, like the person that Sabah B is talking about, to be truthful. Another value which concerns Sabah B is courtesy. I have all the restaurant full and then I would come to the table. I would ask them .. do you need anything else?11 because ifl can bring all at once and I can care for the tables; and of course they would not tell you. The Americans are very inconsiderate in this way. If they are full, they will ask you. You have to make about sixteen trips to the table and after I will say 11Well you have to wait because I asked to tell me what you wanted and ifyou didnt think of it in time, I'll come back later. I have to take care of the other tables ... They dont like it. My tip was not very good then. Believe me, the least thing I was thinking about was my tip. I dont care, but what I want is give a good service to everybody; and this is not easy. .. This is not an easy job for me, but ... the money comes and quick you get it. Then, you dont have to wait for the end ofthe month. Thats it, but otherwise it's not easy job and its not job for me. A more discomforting aspect of the job to Sabah B is when people are oblivious to the existence of a wait staff This lack of respect touches the dignity of a person. The waitress as person you can see through like if she doesnt exist; like the plates coming to the table by themselves. They dont care about the 90

PAGE 100

waitress, and she's a waitress and by this word you mean a lot. As position, you don't have to care about her feelings, or she can go and come back ten times, you don't care about that; she's there for you; she's not human. I wanted to confirm whether that is how customers treated her; she replied: "Yes, that's how customers treat sometimes and you have just to say: this is me and I'm human and I have feelings like you." It has already been established that honesty, courtesy, and respect are values cherished by people around the world. The difficult part of the immigration experience is to learn how to adjust to the attitudes of some individuals in the host country which involve these values. Then, it becomes an overt and covert struggle for an immigrant to cope with the difference in attitudes. Sabah B's experience exactly conveys this point. Personal level I had to change a lot. I made adjustments I would say. I made adjustments because this in United States, this is not Europe. I am here, so I have to adjust. I cannot ask for country to adjust for me, I adjust for the country; but I'm not changing the deep things in me; and the real me will not change, just adjustments I'm making that I will not hurt people or I will not be confronting people. When you go somewhere, you have to adjust yourself to these people because you cannot function, and the majority does not change for the minority; the minority adjust to the majority. The alarming aspect of this adjustment process occurs when an immigrant suppresses his\her ability to "confront" or deal with the unsettling issues in the adopted 91

PAGE 101

country. In my view, there are two questions which require an answer: 1) Do all parts of an identity stay truly intact when an immigrant makes an effort to "adjust"? 2) Does the loss of the ability to "confront" mean alienation? If so, what are the ramifications ofthis alienation? Sabah C adjusts to the American culture differently. For example, she wears hijab to the Islamic school where she teaches and dresses in a modem fashion outside the school. Clearly, this is how she is influenced by the Arab culture in the work place. Furthermore, her duty requires that she instruct the Arab youth about their traditions and religion. Therefore, her implicit task is to be a role model for the students. But when she was asked why she had two different dress codes, she responded (this is a strictly translated interview): When you work at a hotel or some place, you wear their uniform. School has its uniform too. Islam has its uniform too that you have to respect. You respect the Americans in their uniforms, but you can't respect your own uniform?! Sometimes you don't look as attractive when you wear hijab and don't have makeup on, but you feel comfortable in the clothing. However, once you get used to wearing hijab, you feel natural. Other women, like Sabah D, have a different attitude about wearing hijab. Sabah D witnessed and heard of some instances in which Arab women were threatened by some Americans because they were wearing hi jab. Some of these stories 92

PAGE 102

will be presented in the section on religion. She then says that she does not allow her daughters to wear hijab because ofthis threat. So my girls wear hijab to the mosque, but after I put them in the car, I say take it off not because I'm embarrassed to be seen in it, just for them not to have a problem; and they know that. They understand it. I mean it's for the best. When I used to take them to the Islamic school, they used to go with hijab. So, for two years they were covered. So they used to leave the house covered and they come covered, and all the neighbors were looking at us; but they're scared of us because we're a group here. Nobody can even talk to us because two houses living across the street with 7,8,9,10 kids that we have. Nobody can approach us. So they're just looking. Sabah D does not wear hijab at work. In this context, she is not influenced by the Arab culture. However, the impact of the culture shows in the "superwoman" role that she plays raising the children and working at the restaurant. For example, she used to bring her baby to work and feed it with a bottle near the cash register while she was supervising the staff and helping with the preparation of meals. Furthermore, her husband relied on her for running errands and handling staff and customer relations. The majority of Arab women have this cultural notion that their good reputation and self-worth are dependent on an exaggerated sense of self-sufficiency. Sabah D explains her situation as follows: Since I gave birth to my kids, I've been working. I almost had half of them at the work place up until the last ninth month ... .It was very hard in the beginning because the kids were young and I used to carry them there and put them under the cash register with the bottle next to them; or I'd have the hugest van in the village and I have all my kids stuck in 93

PAGE 103

reason. there until they started going to school one after the other. So, that made it a lot easier on me ... Other than that, I would go crazy between the work place, home, the nursery and this and that, you know? And you know that in our culture and tradition, we don't like baby sitters or nothing. So it made it so hard. Sometimes, when I remember what I used to do, I lose it, that's it, there is no way. When I asked her why she did not rely on anybody for help, she gave this first I feel I like to do it myself I'm hard headed. I feel this my responsibility; I'm not gonna throw it on somebody else. That's my business, you know? You feel bad. I feel less of a person or something ifl'm gonna give my responsibility to this and that because this my life. Today I'm gonna give, okay? How about tomorrow? So you always have to build yourself, you know? Secondly, she feels culturally pressured to be self-sufficient. Let me tell you something. I'll be doing a super job or whatever, but if anything happens, I'll be blamed and the father will blame me too. She also adds that the culture does not blame the father for failing to raise the children well. No, nobody blames him because it's your responsibility .... and our society is gonna say "she's at work 24 hours a day." They're not gonna support you. And they blame you ... you know? Especially the Arab generation. They're very bad. 94

PAGE 104

Sabah D carries over this sense of duty and responsibility to do most of the work at the restaurant. She describes her role as the 11master11 and the role of her spouse as the 11brain11 I'm the master; he1s the brain actually. I'm doing all the work. He manages and I just do the work for him; whatever he wants. I mean I run the place because we have the business for 16, 17 years; he does not know how to fry an egg until now and he has a restaurant, you know? We spoil him a lot at work. He1S just in the front and we handle the back doing all the work. Thus, the influence of culture is manifested in the gender-based role that Sabah D plays even in the work place. Participation in the US. Labor Market This section will show how the culture shapes the other behavior but not the employment decision of women in this group. For example, Leila A describes how she is influenced by the culture at work. I hold very true to my culture. I'm very proud of who I am. I'm really comfortable with who I am. I don1t think it [culture] plays a role other than the fact of the values that we1re taught; you know? being honest and being kind, and you put your best effort at work; and I think that is cultural. A lot of Arab families have that; it1S not just deep in our family with these values; it1S cultural. 95

PAGE 105

I agree with Leila A on the values that we are taught in our Arab culture. However, based on my personal experience I discovered that most of the problems that I have encountered at my jobs are related to the perceptions that my American co workers have about my culture. For example, during a three-month evaluation, my immediate supervisor stated that I needed to be more assertive about making decisions regarding the affairs of my clients. My client base is made up ofthe elderly and disabled people, and I do their bookkeeping. I have never had this type of experience before, but I thought that I was doing my job well. For the most part my good performance was validated. Nonetheless, my supervisor openly said I needed to make progress in the "Judgment" section of the evaluation because she thought I lacked confidence. She also added that she was going to assist me in improving my self confidence because she understood how women in my culture are suppressed. During my six-month evaluation at the same job, another individual who was promoted to my previous supervisor's position reiterated that I needed to improve my "judgment". I attempted to raise several questions about what the real issue was. I understood that the new person was learning her new position, and a procedure was set up whereby if I had any questions I would save them for the time when I met with the new supervisor. I also stated that perhaps the view of my supervisor had affected her assessment of me. She adamantly denied any influence. However, she mentioned a few days before the evaluation that she had consulted with my old supervisor (who continues to work at the agency but has a new job description) and other management staff for an extended 96

PAGE 106

period of time because she was feeling nervous about evaluating me by herself In addition, she openly avowed that she was concerned that I would react sensitively to any constructive criticism. When I asked how she had concluded that about me, she replied that any time I made a mistake I over-apologized and became obsessive about correcting the mistake. In her view, I should not claim too much responsibility for making a mistake. A mistake should be recognized and corrected; that is all. Prior to both evaluations, I thought that I was being encouraged to ask questions and often was told that there were no 11dumb11 questions. After the evaluations, I felt discouraged and penalized for the things that I had said or done. Furthermore, I could not argue my point of view even when I thought that I could trust my personnel manager in discussing my feelings about the evaluation. First, I was asked why I was concerned about what was written on the evaluation. Second, I was reminded that I was too sensitive to criticism. Subsequently, I was encouraged to take the incident in stride and proceed with my life. Today, I continue to be confused about this issue and the conflicting messages that I continually receive. Furthermore, I am amazed about how one persons view of me and my culture could be echoed by other staff in the office without investigation of the real issue. Also, it is interesting how some individuals translate their patronizing attitude into a generalization about foreign people and cultures. 97

PAGE 107

Another incident occurred when I was working at a facility for adolescent girls with mental and behavioral problems. I was a group living counselor. I worked at my job for over a year on a part-time basis at a highly structured unit. When a co-worker left her regular full-time position, I applied for her job to increase my hours. I was denied the position for the following reason. One time, one of our clients had had a surgery. I was asked to work an extra shift at the hospital where the girl was admitted. During my shift, I bought new pajamas for the girl as a way of saying "get well". Also, I remembered how we, as staff, were encouraged to be creative about appeasing this girl any time she attempted to run away from her doctor's appointments. Upon her release from the hospital, she reminded me of my promise to buy her french fries and a soda. Therefore, on the way back to the facility, I asked the staff person who was driving the car if she could stop at McDonald's. I bought those two items for the girl and we drove back to the facility. First, I thought that I could buy food for this person because another staff who had more seniority and some authority in the unit had done the same thing for the same girl. Once we entered the unit, one staff member rushed to the girl and took away her drink and fries and sent her immediately to her room. The girl started getting nervous and cried thinking she was going to time-out. Another staff person angrily approached me and asked me to come into the office with her. She then reminded me that I should not have done anything for the girl because of the concern that other girls in the unit would complain of favoritism. I apologized and proceeded with my job. 98

PAGE 108

However, during the interview for the full-time position, my unit supervisor reminded me of the incident and asked ifl thought that my "Moroccan common sense" coincided with the American common sense. First, she used the term common sense. Second, she expressed a concern that I might repeat the same incident with other girls and thereby break the structure of the unit. This was definitely perceived as a threat. Three things occurred. One, the unit supervisor never mentioned anything to me about the incident. Two, when I asked the supervisor ifl had done my job well, she said yes. Three, when I inquired about how my Moroccan common sense came into play in the job interview, a counselor who was present at the meeting exclaimed, "Well, don't you think that people from other countries are impacted by their cultures?!" In each of the incidents, I felt that I could not even begin to intellectually argue my point of view with these people. They acted as if they had some special cultural awareness that substantiated their attitude toward me. In addition, I felt that my mistakes were "cultural mistakes" while other people's mistakes, which were similar to mine, were simply mistakes. I also felt alienated and suppressed. 99

PAGE 109

Religion and Work There is a basic understanding among the participants in this study that the Islamic religion does not prohibit the Arab woman from working. In fact, prophet Mohammed married a successful business woman. Nonetheless, the responsibility of raising children and keeping a good home takes first priority. Here, elements of religion and culture are intertwined and may create some confusion about the exact terms of whether Arab women are allowed to work outside the home. The bottom line is that Arab women can participate in the work force, but their responsibility of keeping a good home comes first. In fact, the participants will reinforce this concept in different religious and cultural contexts which, on the surface, may seem contradictory. For example, Malika B presumes that a woman is required in the religion to stay at home. "I think that's the way it's supposed to be. . They say in the religion that she should take care of her kids and make her man happy." (Interview, p. 7) But work outside the home is also considered an extension of a female's duty to sustain the happiness of the family. According to Sabah D, religion obliges a woman to work. "Yes, religion says you go and work with him [husband]. Religion doesn't say you let him die in front ofyou while you watch." 100

PAGE 110

Many Arab immigrant women in America realize the importance of the Islamic faith in bringing the members of their families closer to each other. Therefore, they promote religion in their homes and send their children to the mosque and Islamic schools. Some families also send the children to their countries of origin to learn about the religion and traditions. In the work place, some Arab women do not hesitate to inform their employers of their faith and important times of the Islamic year like Ramadan, the holy month of the year when all Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. For example, Leila A says: I've always made it clear, very up front. When my holy times of the year come around, I take time off. During Ramadan, I leave work early. They know that, so that I can come home early enough to get the family going. On id [generally means an important holiday like Christmas or Thanksgiving] I take time off. They give me three days off for the holiday, and it's not for my vacation; it's not for my sick leave. I've never had a problem with that. I tell them up front, "I need to take time off and we go by the lunar calendar, so I may or may not come in to work tomorrow" as far as id or Ramadan is; and they've always given me the day before and the day after. I never had a problem with it because I tell them right away, the minute I start and that's always been really good. Leila C is as equally assertive as Leila A about disclosing her religion. She reports the following: If there is something that needs to be done with my religion, I usually do it and I'm not ashamed of it. So I feel confidence with what I believe in. So I don't feel that there is any effect there as far as my religion because I'm just forward with the people I work with because this is the 101

PAGE 111

way it is; this is the way I am and thats it... So I've been blunt about what I believe in. Arab women are also aware of the religious requirements involving the dress code and work environment. For instance, an Arab woman cannot wear form-fitting or revealing clothes. She is expected to have a good social etiquette and safeguard her reputation at all times. Her behavior and language must always be appropriate and non-suggestive. The same rules apply to men. However, if something inappropriate occurs between a man and woman in the work place, the woman is blamed for it. A woman is supposed to cover her body because she stimulates men. This is also the reason for a woman walking behind the man. Therefore, many Arab women would not hesitate to echo Malika A's view. Of course work is necessary but within limits. For example, I would not sit close to a man or a man should not touch me; this is forbidden. There has to be boundaries. I prefer a job where there is one genderwomen working together; such a thing would be better. But of course there is no place like this where women work by themselves and men work by themselves. More importantly, there has to be respect between men and women. Some women find the opportunity to practice their religious beliefs in the place of employment. For example, Sabah B refuses to serve alcohol at work. What I dont want is to carry alcohol. I didnt care before but you see what the result is and then you change for the better. And I dont want to carry alcohol and thats the only way that religion can interfere in my work is only with alcohol; otherwise there is nothing else that interfere. 102

PAGE 112

On the other hand, Sabah D would listen with a group of Muslim employees to taped sermons or reading from the Koran prior to opening her restaurant for business. These tapes make them feel spiritual. Yet more women like Malika D are adamant about not earning money in the wrong way (i.e, stealing, manipulating or bribing). Also, many individuals, like Leila A, enjoy the influence of Islam on their work. They are very productive, loyal, honest and kind. However, some Arab women shed certain aspects of their religious beliefs because they want to assimilate to the American culture or are concerned about their personal safety. For instance, several participants in this study refuse to wear Hijab because they either see it as an inconvenience, or they do not believe in it. Sabah C covers her body only when she goes to the mosque or to teach at the Islamic school. Outside these two places, she dresses in modem clothes. Sabah D follows the same method with her daughters but for a different reason. She has witnessed and heard of some instances of Arab women being threatened by some Americans because the women were wearing Hijab. An American knocked on the window; she [an Arab woman] opened the thing; he spat on her face just because she was wearing that. I have another one who they followed her until she came inside my father's store just because she was covered. You know what I'm saying? It's bad; it's very bad. The question ofHijab is very complicated. A woman went to K-mart. She was there with her mother in law. The woman cannot walk and they kept following her and making fun ofher and pulling her Hijab, and she was yelling. She came into the car. She almost had a heart attack. I mean the fear they put in people is 103

PAGE 113

unbelievable, and this happens to weak people who cannot defend themselves. Sabah C had a personal experience at a flea market where a vender suspected that she had stolen his merchandise simply because she was covered. There was only one time when I was not treated right because when I was shopping at the flea market and the sales person kept asking me whether I paid or not. He continued to ask me loudly and for the third time if I paid; and all the people looked around to see this noticeable lady with Hijab. He told me not to come to him next time because ifl did, he would recognize me. Other instances occur when an Arab woman might not be hired for a job because she is covered. An intelligent and highly competent female was kept out of view in a reputable law firm because she was wearing Hijab. Women like Malika A feel discouraged to search for a job because they hear of discrimination against people from a Muslim background. Specifically, Malika A admitted that she felt apprehensive about participating in the American work force because of her husband's experience with discrimination. I was thinking about using my degree to find a job, or obtain an equivalent degree so that I could work in my field. It appears to me that because we are Arabs and Muslims, there is possible discrimination because my husband face a problem because he is a Muslim .... He worked at ... and he wanted Fridays off to go pray at the mosque but they did not agree. A lady who was hired after him asked for Sundays off to go to church and they allowed her. He asked why they allowed her to go to church and did not allow him to go to the mosque. Later, a problem occurred at work and they fired him because he is a Muslim. So there is that possibility that they are afraid of Muslims because 104

PAGE 114

anything that happens they blame it on the Muslims, terrorism and you don't know what. However, it is interesting that some participants in this project would discuss similar cases of discrimination, but on a personal level they report that they never feel prejudice. Simultaneously, they may talk about instances in which their American coworkers would initiate a conversation about an aspect of the Arab culture or a media event to insinuate their condescending attitude or prejudice. Most of these incidents are very subtle. Family It has already been established in this paper that Arab women would give priority to their families over a job for two main reasons: One, it is a religious requirement that they take care of the children and make the spouse happy. Two, most all Arab women believe that their self-worth and good reputation are dependent on their excellent management of the family unit. Under such circumstances, women have no margin for error even if they work outside the home. This section will help explain the reason Arab women are assigned this role in society. 105

PAGE 115

There are several strict societal rules that an Arab woman adheres to. When she is young, she can only attend school or participate in a few supervised activities outside the home. Sabah D says the following: "We used to not go outside, not to see anybody .... The way we were raised was very hard." (Interview, p.2) Later, a woman might continue to experience similar limitations. Some women from the older generation would say that the only time they left their parents' residence was to move in with their husbands or go to their graves. Also, if a woman got divorced or became a widow, she was obligated to live with her parents. "When you become divorced or a widow, you must live with your family." (Interview, p.1 0) Leila B explains that the confined structure ultimately benefits the Arab youth. When they're small, they're ... normal; but when they reach the age of puberty, 10, 11 and 12, you cannot control them, that is why you separate them until they are ages 16, 17, and 18. So you have five years when you can teach them values. A girl does not date a boy, kiss him; and the same applies to the boy. You build this at home so that they have an idea. When they go to college, they will know the limits. Of course, people will make mistakes, and there are some people who are more open than others; but you give them [boys and girls] an opportunity to develop mentally. A more indirect and compelling reason pertains to the need to control social problems like teenage pregnancy. However, females in the Arab societies are more restricted than males, primarily because they are the ones who become pregnant. An unexpected pregnancy is considered a source of great shame. A girl or a woman may 106

PAGE 116

be humiliated and alienated for the rest of her life. Malika A talks about the same concept in the following manner. A woman cannot date a man and bring him home .... And if a problem occurred [pregnancy], her father would be embarrassed. Dating for dating's sake is not okay .... Of course in religious terms this is not acceptable at all." Furthermore, all females in the Arab world are made responsible for preserving religion, traditions, their own reputation, and the honor of the family. Leila B confirms this idea. For example in our country [Palestine], an Arab/Muslim girl is one who protects religion and the way she was brought up ... We safeguard these aspects. Subsequently, most Arab women accompany their families or spouses when they immigrate to the United States. According to Leila B, a young woman would never be allowed to leave Palestine, for instance, without a relative. They don't let us leave the country at all. We don't migrate. There is no such a thing where a girl leaves her country to come to work in America. We have girls that go to Egypt, Syria or Iraq to study, but they come back. You cannot go live and work by yourself and never ask about anybody. 107

PAGE 117

Moreover, the same person is less likely to be changed by the American culture when she lives with members of her family. Leila B describes her experience as follows: I lived with my father and siblings. So in one way or another we lived together within an Arabic framework. When you come here, you don't live alone. You either live with your father, brother, husband, or a member of your family. She also mentioned two important factors which lessened the influence of the American culture. She entered this country when she was an adolescent. Secondly, she came from a strict Islamic background. Thus, it is reasonable to deduce that one's age since migration and the country of origin help a person assimilate in the new society at a different pace. Leila B supports this concept. When I came here, I was a grown up and I was raised in a certain way; therefore, I was not infected with the lifestyle here. She later adds: Ifyou don't have a solid background, you will loosen up. I don't mean to be prejudiced but I have Arab Christian friends at school who came here and it was easier for them to adjust to America; but for us Muslims there are so many things that are different. Furthermore, we have the mosque and we go to the mosque and take the kids with us. Your contacts and visits are with Arabs not Americans. Wh(m I asked her for the reason the Palestinian people seem to be more attached to the traditions and religion, she provided me with a profound answer. 108

PAGE 118

Because many people come and try to always take our country away from us, we tend to strongly get attached. Even now the Jewish people are trying to take our country; but to prove our existence, we must assert ourselves, the Arabic language and religion. Generally, immigrants tend to adopt the same approach to preserve their identity. Leila A shares an interesting story of a group of Palestinian and Jewish girls who came to the United States from the West Bank as participants in a project called Building Bridges. Some of these girls were staying with Leila A's parents. One day these girls were trying to go the mosque in T -shirts and shorts. Leila A's father immediately sent them to their room to change into more appropriate clothes for the mosque. On a different occasion, these girls witnessed all Leila A's family pray together. Leila A states that her parents' chief goal was to maintain a balance between the Arab traditions and assimilation into the American society. My parents are really big on that. They made that very important to us and the older we got, the more important it became to us. When were younger, we wanted to be like everybody else; but the older I'm getting I just think it makes me more unique. I mean I'm proud of who I am and where I came from, and sometimes I wonder if I have more pride than those who live in the country. But it makes me different. It sets me apart from the crowd, which maybe I like; I enjoy. To promote this identity, several Arab parents send their children overseas to learn about traditions and religion. For example, Malika D and Leila C visited Palestine for several years to develop an appreciation for the Arab culture and Islamic 109

PAGE 119

faith. Today, both these individuals would like for their children to have a similar expenence. At this point, it will be useful to focus on how the Arab culture influences men and their role in society. Generally, a patriarchal system dominates the Arab \Islamic nations. Leila D admits in the interview that she impatiently awaited the opportunity to marry away from her family because she refused to spend her life catering to the wishes of her male siblings. Many males are brought up to expect service from their sisters and mothers. In some households, women cannot gather with men even as relatives of the family. In some cases, men enjoy total authority. For example, Sabah A discusses how her Arab employer cannot tolerate an argumentative woman. She also describes how all members of the family whisper when this man is present at home because they do not want to disturb him. A married son with children would not smoke in front of him out of fear and respect. When Arab men immigrate to America they want to preserve their privileges and status around Arab women. Simultaneously, their attitude toward American women is noticeably different. The following dialogue will shed some light on the reason for this attitude: Q It appears that Arab men tend to stereotype their own women for no good reason. For instance, they want their women to stay 110

PAGE 120

at home; but they're not as restrictive toward women from different backgrounds. A Oh! they kid around with her, and laugh with her, and they're attracted to that; but yet no, they want their women naive. It's funny; and they're attracted to that but they don't want that in their home. Later, Malika D describes how her brother, who was born and raised in the United States, treats her. He yells at me like ifl wear something low cut. I think he's very strict on me. I would not be surprised if he married a veiled woman. He's very strict. He will go out with women that do everything, that do whatever; but when he wants a girl that he wants to marry, he's going to want someone that's so straight; unbelievable. When an Arab man marries a conservative Arab woman, he fulfills his wishes. He recreates his comfort zone. At the same time, he meets more subtle cultural demands. He becomes responsible for the wife; and the parents of the bride expect him to take this responsibility seriously. Malika D explains the dynamics of this relationship. They want her to be around the husband's environment. They know her husband. He goes out; she goes out with him, and if something goes wrong, it's his fault, not their fault. They brought her to him brought up beautiful and perfect, and all that stuff. I then made the following remark: "It is interesting how you talk about this guilt concept!" 111

PAGE 121

Malika D responded: Oh! it comes up because the man is going to blame the parents if something goes wrong. [the husband would say] "you let her do this and work. She's too Americanized to survive with her." It's always "it's too Americanized". That's the term I hear all the time. That's it, Americanized. It's not liberal, or she's educated, or she has an opinion, no; she's Americanized. And automatically people think the bad things. They don't think that she has a mind of her own .. So it's all culture. In addition to shifting the blame onto the parents of the wife, the Arab man may also react to the cultural pressure by simply keeping the woman in an enclosed envirorunent. Malika D says: They [Arab men] feel it's just better to keep her in an environment she's been brought up. A lot of them they're not educated. They were brought up within homes, with their own mothers in the same situation, no college degree, and they just bring up their children and be a housewife; and they just want them to remain that way. That's what they want. Also, Malika D states that the reason the Arab men limit their wives is not always obvious. Sometimes it's either control, or sometimes it's just they want to keep the women naive where they're afraid that she's going to go out in the real world because she's been all her life overseas and there is so much difference here that they're afraid that they will steer them to the wrong thing; and I think it's fear a lot of times. Some men are also afraid the woman is going to get more aggressive and learn so much about the world that it'll overwhelm him. 112

PAGE 122

Naturally, one ought to remember that not all Arab men and women are brought in the strict cultural context that I so far have presented. A more balanced view of these individuals will follow later on in the analysis. The purpose of focusing on the restrictive aspects of the Arab culture and their impact on the role of men and women is to show the logical trend of how Arab immigrant parents in America choose to be as strict on their children. The dominant style of raising and disciplining the children in the Arab community is to eliminate any exposure of the youth to the things that they ought not be exposed to at a certain age. These things are primarily drugs, sex, and violence. Many Arab parents are aware that their children may be exposed to these things in school. Therefore, they use several strict disciplinary measures to deter the children from wanting to experience some of these things. One, many parents reject the idea of hiring a baby sitter because they cannot trust what they may be exposed to. I attempted to clarify this issue in my interview with Leila A. Q Why does your background as an Arab influence your view on baby sitting? A To me it's more of question of trust. I know a lot of Americans ... I trust them, but I don't trust them with my kids. Q Why is that? A Because they might expose them to something that I don't agree with, and it could be something simple as drinking alcohol and I don't want my children to be exposed to that. It could be something simple as cussing; I don't want my kids to be exposed to that; whereas I know that my best friend ... she still lives at home because she's not married. She was raised the same way I was; so I know that she will not expose my children to things I don't want them exposed to, and I can trust her with that just like I can trust my mother .. my sister .. or my brother with that. Whereas the lady above me, she's a very good friend of mine and I 113

PAGE 123

love her dearly and I'd probably let my kids with her for a couple of hours but not for an extended period of time. She drinks; her husband drinks; her son drinks. They could be exposed to a number of things that I don't want my kids to be exposed to because they're still young. Maybe when they're older and they understand more. And you hear so many horror stories about baby sitters. It's not worth the risk for me. As the children become older and start school, they are prohibited from engaging in any extra activities. Sabah D, for example, accompanies her children to the library when they have an assignment. At home, she provides them with expensive items to facilitate good leisure time like a Jacuzzi, a swimming pool, a tent to camp in the back yard, a computer, books, and several other toys. The children are permitted to play only with their cousins at home. They do not go outside. Leila B works at the Islamic and American school which her six-year-old child attends. This way, she remains involved in his daily activities. However, when the child is invited to play at an American friend's house, she accompanies him. She also does not feel comfortable when her child is playing with other children behind a closed door. She encourages everyone to keep the doors open. Furthermore, she does not permit her child to have extended visits. Thus, she accommodates her child's need to be around other people but within limits. Leila C basically uses the same approach. She is employed at her children's school. She also has a baby-sitting job at home. If her husband is not available, she usually escorts her children to several after school activities. Therefore, she constantly remains involved in her children's life. Malika B asserts that her children cannot date or go to proms. "They know that we're very strict family and when they 114

PAGE 124

go to college or to school, theyre gonna have to believe it; just to learn that we cant date; we cant go to proms.11 (Interview, p.5) She also states 11When my girls gonna get married, theyre gonna have arranged marriage just like me ... (Interview, p.5). Some parents would not allow their children to learn how to drive until they enter college. 11I was not allowed to drive until I started college ... (Interview, p.4) Malika D helps explain the restrictiveness of Arab parents. They feel pressured too because theyre bringing up their children in the American society and theyre afraid that their children are going to go the wrong way. I inquired about what she meant by 11wrong way. 11 She replied. The wrong way where they totally forget their culture. They want to go out. I mean were very restrictive. We cant date. We cant go out in the evening and smoke. I mean all these things that you have around you from the other girls because in the American society the parents accept their children to go out. They feel like when they get to a certain age, theyre allowed to do all these things that our parents dont allow us to do like going out. Arab children also experience a great difficulty growing up in America because of peer pressure and their different background. Malika D describes this difficulty. I felt that even though my parents put me through religion classes and Arabic classes, I still felt a lot of pressure in school, like the kids were different and want to go out; and my parents were very, very restrictive. I'm not allowed to go and sleep at a friends house. I'm not allowed to go out in the evening. They're very strict. 115

PAGE 125

To remedy this situation, some Arab parents send the children to their countries of origin to learn the Arabic language, religion, and traditions. This approach usually eases this problem and helps the children cope better in the American society. Malika D is grateful to her parents for sending her to Palestine. So I felt once I was sent to school overseas that it was a lot early but the girls that were around me were under the same restrictions. So you feel you1re still in another group; but I feel like when we1re in America, you feel so different and restricted that when we go out, you feel like you1re going to do something so different, like when we go to school, we feel like we1re in another world; then we will go home and we1re back in our prison. We feel like it1S prison when we1re teenagers. And sending me overseas I think first of all I appreciated my culture more; and second of all because of the restrictions and the other girls going the same way as I did, I felt so more relieved. Several Arab people, like the participants in this study, report their tremendous success in parenting their children in the Arab and American culture. These individuals realize that their greatest impact on the children occurs when the children are young and impressionable. Sabah D stresses the importance of this age as she discusses how she teaches her children about the Islamic religion. ny ou try you best to put it when they're young. I mean they're not gonna question anything; you just put it in them11 (Interview, p.l 0). Malika B reports that she has not had any problems teaching her children about the Arab culture. 11They never because since they were this tiny, they know they don1t even ask11 (Interview, p.S). These same individuals understand that the children will eventually learn to decipher these cultural message and pick what is significant. Malika C says the following about her daughter: 116

PAGE 126

This is the age where I have to keep an eye to show her what she can do and what she cannot do ... and when she grows up, she goes to college, and I'm sure by that time she will know her background and where came from, what she can do, what she can't do and she'll decide what she wants to do. Malika D and Leila A acknowledge that they have positively been influenced by their parents and the Arab culture. Consequently, they aim at having their own children enjoy the same experience. Malika D says: Now I know what my parents felt with me ... and I'm glad that I was able to appreciate my culture, otherwise I would not have cared too much. And I think it's important now that I'm raising my kids. I think about ifl was not brought up that way, I would not have put my kids through the same thing. Leila A reports: When I was younger, my parents were like "no, you can't go. Come from school to home." They never let us have any activities; so we resented it a lot. But now looking back at it, I can understand what my parents did. But I want to do the same thing to my children but I don't want them to resent it. Clearly, Leila A has learned a healthy approach to raising her children in two different cultures. The main point in this discussion is that culture affects the family orientation of many Arab immigrants in America. Arab women learn to give first priority to the children. For example, Malika D became a housewife because of her two daughters. 117

PAGE 127

Leila B and Leila C selected non-fulfilling professions to maintain constant involvement in their children's lives. Leila A remembers the role of her mother. She was the only one who was ever home, and even the neighbors' kids would come over if they were scared, frightened, or they needed something; my mother was there for them ... Other mothers can always count on that particular mother being home on the block. Malika B speaks favorably of her role in the home. "The kids have that sense of security, and it's nice when they come home and find me home." (Interview, p. 7) Also, the children have a "sense of togetherness because if you look around, their friends come from divorced [parents]. .. with us Muslim people and Arab, we don't have that much divorce" (Interview, p. 7). 118

PAGE 128

CHAPTER FIVE THE IMMIGRATION EXPERIENCE The first goal in this section of the project is to examine the impact of language, education, experience, age, country of origin, and network on the employment decision of the twelve participants in this study. The second goal is to describe other Arab cultural elements, American perceptions and attitudes which influence these individuals in the work place. The Influence of Individual Characteristics On Arab\Muslim Women in the Workplace The ability to speak the English language Naturally the inability to speak the English language constitutes a temporary problem for most people who immigrate to the United States. Several participants in this project claim that they learned the basic rules of the English language in their countries of origin. Leila B says: 119

PAGE 129

They teach us English in Palestine but not enough because it is a second language. In addition, they teach British English not the American dialogue. So when you come here, you find a difference. Subsequently, they adopt different methods oflearning the American dialogue. Sabah D explains: I learned English in Kuwait, the basics, of course. We used to read and write but we couldn1t speak. So when I came here for the first year, we didn1t have anything. I learned it from watching soap operas on the TV and the news, I swear, which was good. Malika B states that she learned the English language by reading children1s stories and the newspapers and by watching television. I really taught myself I watch TV ... and I do capitalize on what I know. Then when the kids start going to school, they start bringing stories, I start to read; of course, the papers and when I read more I learned more. The inability to speak the English language has hindered some Arab women from participating in the labor market. For example, when I asked Malika A if she had intended to find employment after immigrating to America, she responded: A No. Q Whynot? A I don1t know. I mean first it was because of the language and as you know the English that we learn in Egypt you cannot use here; but after I came and stayed here, I learned the language. 120

PAGE 130

However, Malika A continued to be a housewife because she gave birth to two children. She says: My husband told me that I could go to school again and work, but having children does not give the chance. Current research confirms that the participation of immigrant women in the American work force depends on several controlling factors like children (Stier, 1991 ). Malika A was also unable to work outside the home because she started a family of six children upon her immigration to the United States. However, there are other reasons which reinforced Malika A's decision to stay home with the children. One, she was not compelled to find employment because her husband earned a decent income. Two, she understood that the Arab culture and the Islamic religion encouraged her to be a housewife. Sabah A chose to stay in a very troubled marriage for almost twenty years because of her children. She refused to work until her children grew up. Both Malika B and Sabah A admit that the inability to speak the English language may have indirectly interfered with their decision to work outside the home. However, it appears that having children was their real motive for working on the home front. For instance, Sabah A eventually divorced her husband and was forced to independently support her children. At that time, the inability to speak the English language fluently had a marginal effect on her urgent need to find a job. Even Sabah B reports that the language element would not hinder her from finding employment if her .circumstances were different. In addition, she feels that other factors like minimum education, lack of 121

PAGE 131

job experience, and unfamiliarity with her surroundings in America may have discouraged her from finding a job. I don't have any school. I didn't finish high school. Why would they hire me? I have nothing. I then asked her the following questions: Q You said something important and that is if you had to go out and work that you possibly would? A Yes, yes I would; I just never tried it. Maybe now with my English better, my surroundings, I know ifl apply I would get a job. Q Did the lack oflanguage and education scare you to go out and find work? A I never was scared. For example when the kids start going to school and I start taking them to school and going to the teachers' conferences and asking them all these questions, I was trying myself and was trying my English on the teachers. And if I wanted to work as a volunteer in their school, I would stay there. It's just I really didn't want to; not because I was scared or I wouldn't get it, I know I would. It was a choice. In some cases, even the ability to speak the English language continues to have a negligible effect on the decision of an Arab woman to work inside or outside the home. For example, Malika C spoke the English language very well while she was working as an executive secretary in Kuwait. She admits that she spoke better English in Kuwait than in the United States. But she decided to be a housewife mainly because her lifestyle changed in America. Also, she altered her view on leaving the children 122

PAGE 132

with a baby sitter in the host society. Malika D, who grew up in this country, decided to stay home with her two daughters for nearly the same reason. Furthermore, Malika B lists other variables which influence the decision of an immigrant person to enter the work force other than the language. It depends on the drive, the achievement and on what they want to do with their life. My son had a friend who came from Mexico. He only came with $500 and then he has a company that's worth a quarter of a million dollars, and he didn't have high school diploma and he didn't speak English, and now he still doesn't have it and he has business. Thus, factors like children, the economic stability of the family, personal choice, and sense of achievement seem to have a greater effect on the employment decision of the participants in this study than the language. The ability to speak the English language affects their decision to work only temporarily. Education The results of my study show that most of the participants immigrated to this country with a high school diploma. It has been demonstrated that women in the Arab culture are expected to marry and raise children. Therefore, they are not anticipated to further their education. Malika D exceeded her father's expectations when she obtained 123

PAGE 133

her bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Management. Also, she is pleased that her father allowed her to go to college. Thus, there are some parents who authorize their daughters to advance their academic careers. Other families shift the responsibility of education onto the spouse of the daughter. Therefore, the husband becomes liable for educating her. Yet other individuals discourage their daughters from going to school immediately after high school. These people feel that a high school education is sufficient for a woman to be a good housewife and a functional member in society. Hence, several Arab immigrant women in America have limited education and are housewives. On the other hand, women like Malika D who are able to go to college and work are considered as outcasts. Malika D describes her situation. We have a lot of people around here, you know; they could not have their daughters always around me. They did not want their daughters to be like me because I was driving, and was going to college, and working. I mean that was a curse. I exclaimed "a curse is a strong word!?" She answered: It is because oh God! I was called the loose girl just because I was out in the world and doing all these different things; and their oldest daughters, they were not allowed to do any of that; no way. I mean they finished high school, and they're directly going to get married; and they did, like three or four of them. 124

PAGE 134

However, Malika D challenged these parents to think about the future of their daughters. I kept telling them "what if they get married. They're getting married to men that they do not know. What if something happens? What if something goes wrong? What if she has three kids and you guys can't afford to even take care of them just because of the economics in this world? How do you want to survive? Are you going to go on welfare?" Usually, the parents would say to Malika D that they would assume the responsibility of the daughter. Also, they expect the daughter to move in with them. Nonetheless, Malika D reports: Yet when I ask their daughters, no way; they don't want to go back home. They could not wait to get out of their parents' homes. Eventually, the new generation of Arab people has a different attitude about education and work. Malika D describes this new awareness. You see the difference between 10 years ago ... Their daughters were not allowed to go to the movies with me; that's how bad it was; and now their daughters do all of that that they did not like about me. And it takes them years sometimes just to learn that there is nothing wrong with that, you know. And I was in school and I was in the honor roll, and their kids were at home all the time. They were not even on the honor roll because I still thought important of my college. I wanted to do good; and high school, I was always on honors, you know. That's why I think when you restrict your kids, you're going to close their minds; and they don't want to study or do so good. 125

PAGE 135

Today, Arab women are found in a variety of job fields and seem to do well. For example, they are doctors, engineers, and teachers. However, there are other women with college degrees whose career outlook continues to be deeply influenced by the Arab culture. For instance, I asked Malika D the following question: Q One more thing, those Lebanese women who seemingly have assimilated in the American culture, do they do fairly well in the mainstream American economy in that they get well paying jobs, or do they still have some obstacles? A A lot of the Lebanese women that I know, they have good jobs but I don't see them going too far. Some of them, of course, are very successful. It's like the majority from the ones I know, they're at home. They're not working actually; or they get something just something fun, career. But I don't see them go for a goal that they want to reach at a certain point. This particular observation coincides with a research piece which says that women from certain cultures, like the Latin culture, seem to be less concerned about job promotions because they were brought up to be grateful for the things that. they may currently have, such as a job which pays a minimum wage. However, it is extremely important to understand that Malika D is not making a sweeping generalization about the Lebanese women. She is referring to a profound religious concept called Kanaa, which basically means acceptance of what God gives us in this life. Note my dialogue with her. Q It seems that. .. the best thing that our culture teaches us is this concept of Kanaa. People can live on a minimal income and do well. Do you think that's true about the culture? 126

PAGE 136

A Yes I know a lot of people that do that. They just say "okay I'm going to accept this, and this is the way I'm going to live They just live that way all their lives. And when you tell them "why don't you get this. You deserve this. You've done this all you life, my God!" And she says "it's okay, I don't mind living like this Q So, aren't Arab women concerned about job promotions? A Yes. That's why they're not ever going to look for promotion. They want to stay wherever they are. They're not going to care if anybody ever promotes them. Yes, that's why sometimes you have to see the better things in life, and you want to reach your goals. Yes, some of these women don't even have any goals They've seen their mothers like that, and they're just going to go on like their mothers. They're not going to look further. It will become clear in the following portion of the interview that Malika D is essentially talking about how these women are influenced by the aspects of the culture which they are exposed to. Yes. It's what you're exposed to. It's the people that you're exposed to. When you don't learn about how far you can go in life, and what people have done in their lives; of course, they're not going to see anything further. They're going to stay where they are all their life It is helpful to remember that Malika D was raised in a strict cultural fashion. Later, she developed an appreciation for her heritage and faith. Her exposure to the Arab culture ultimately influenced her decision to be a housewife. Therefore, after she obtained her college degree and worked for several years, she relinquished her job to be with her children. In essence, the argument that I am presenting is that the Arab culture may indeed affect the decision of a woman to have limited academic and career goals. Nonetheless, it is inherently a woman's choice not to move up the professional 127

PAGE 137

latter. Malika D and other participants in this project affirm that they would get promoted to higher positions if they chose to. Leila B is confident that she could advance in her career at the bank. I asked how she had planned to do so. She responded: Because I wanted to finish my degree in accounting and stay at the bank at the same time. But I got married and had my son; so that stopped it. Furthermore, my goals started involving my son not myself Leila A is as certain about her job mobility. Q So if you stayed at that job [at the bank], could you have gone as high up as you wanted to? A Oh yes, definitely. Then, she describes how she would have achieved this goal. I think ifl played the game the right way and you didn't step on anybody's toes, you can advance quickly in the organization. I saw people do it. I did it and I was there only two years. I originally started just answering phones but within six months I had the whole phone port folio. I was monitoring it. Within a year I was monitoring everything for our vice president. Thus, this demonstrated ability of Leila A and Leila B to move up the professional latter challenges the current research which suggests that immigrant women have a stagnant career outlook. Certainly, these two individuals, among other participants in this study, indicate that they ultimately have a personal choice to advance in their jobs despite any cultural limitations. Furthermore, most of them earn a 128

PAGE 138

good income. This is the main difference between my point of view on culture and job mobility and the view that prevails in the current literature. Job Experience While education might facilitate several desirable job opportunities, it is not a necessary asset to have for some Arab women. For example, Leila C expresses the following view: I didn't finish college, but I think that it's experience. I don't know about now or what the world is out there. A while back, they didn't hire people with degrees. They hired people with high school degrees and they trained them because it was cheaper for them. But nowadays, I don't know how they do it. I'm sure they had people in Kuwait that had more education than I did, but I got the job they would have done because I had experience, not because I had education. In reflecting on my own experience, I realize that my college education and 15 years of work experience in retail, service industries, and the corporate field have not helped improve my career or financial situation. I continue to struggle today as I struggled when I first came to the United States. Therefore, it is important to understand what Leila C is saying about the prevailing hiring practices in the job market. Evidently, the infrastructure of the U.S. labor market has changed. Several companies are down-sizing. Policy makers are working to improve the economy of the nation. New welfare and immigration laws have emerged. Subsequently, the 129

PAGE 139

competition over jobs has increased. Thus, I cannot safely assume that my success in the career world is unconditionally dependent upon my working experience. On the other hand, I may be indirectly affected because I am a female from a minority group. This is true about minority women who are native to the United States. I remember having an a job interview with two attorneys. I was applying for a receptionist\administrative assistant position. One of them openly asked whether I was going to experience difficulty understanding the clients or making myself understood over the phone. I then inquired if he had any problem comprehending my conversation; he responded "no." I thought, "Then what is the issue?" Yet, I was not hired for the job. Sabah A approaches the working experience differently. She reports that she has an extensive experience in jewelry business. However, each time she thought about leaving her current position with the Arab man, she could not find a job which pays an equivalent or better salary. She has a twelve-year experience in the jewelry field. Presently, she is discovering that she has to return to school to become a certified gemologist to be able to earn a desirable income. Previously, she applied at a major retail store, which also sells jewelry, and was offered a $5-an-hour pay. Her job experience was not sufficient. 130

PAGE 140

Malika A is apprehensive about seeking a job because she is unable to transfer her secretarial and administrative skills into the American labor market. She too feels compelled to return to school to relearn her skills in English. Ironically, Sabah A and Malika A enjoy and would not leave their job fields. On the other hand Malika C is extremely confident in securing a job as an executive secretary in the United States. She also knows to apply for positions with the U.S. government and big corporations. However, she is aware that she may not obtain a salary that is comparable to the one she was earning in Kuwait, which averaged $3000 a month. But presently, she is more interested in staying at home with the children. Later, she may join her husband in operating their own business. Thus, the participants in this project hold different views on the significance of the job experience. Individuals like Sabah A and Malika A feel that other individual assets like education have limited their job search and participation in the labor market. At 51 years of age, Sabah A feels more reluctant to leave her current job. She speaks of age discrimination in the job market while describing her friend's situation. 131

PAGE 141

I have plenty experience because I can do the best jewelry stores. I never ask the jewelry stores, but I have a friend like me. She literally have the same situation. She's Italian. If you're not a gemologist, don't even bother to go ask. She's not making enough money and she tried every store in town. She's 62 years old. That's old. She's too old; and that hurt my feeling because what's the age have to do with your experience? However, researchers talk about the impact of age on immigrants in a different context. They first assume that people who immigrate to the United States at an early age have a better chance of finding employment and earning good wages than people who enter this country as adults. Young immigrants assimilate quickly and have a different understanding of the American culture and the labor market. Leila A responds to my question as follows: Q Has migration at an early age helped you as an immigrant working woman? A I think I have advantage only because I grew up in the culture and I know the culture. I understood whereas something may occur in the office and I would take that non-shortly [inoffensively]; whereas maybe ifl had come here later, I'd may have taken it offensively. I think that's all. In my view, Leila A is talking about the connotations which different cultures attach to certain words. She is not discussing the influence of age on her ability to obtain a well-paying job. Thus, she is inherently referring to the impact of language and culture on immigrants in the work place. Later, I will give a specific example to clarify Leila A's statement. Interestingly, Sabah D also finds no correlation between 132

PAGE 142

age and employment. When I asked her if immigration at an early age had affected her life in the United States, she replied: No because as I told you I was learning as I was going, ... I don't know how to cook and I have a restaurant, too nice; so I learned a lot .. from everybody around me. From asking, from hiring some cooks. In essence, Sabah D is stating that she has benefitted from an accumulated working experience than from immigrating to America at an early age. Malika B thinks. that education would have affected her decision to find a well-paying job more than early immigration to the United States. Q Would young age help you in getting a good job or not? A No because I don't have a school diploma when I came to this country. Thus, participants in this study demonstrate that there is no significant relationship between early immigration, employment, and earning capacity. Other researchers have arrived at the same conclusion. While young age helps immigrants assimilate quickly and understand the American culture, it does not always facilitate a good job. Other variables like education and experience may be more instrumental to immigrants in the U.S. job market. 133

PAGE 143

Countzy of Origin In addition to the language, education, job experience and age, researchers try to discover whether people who come from English speaking countries have a greater opportunity to obtain well-paying jobs than the people who cannot speak the English language. The first observation is that most participants in this study learned English as a second language in their countries of origin. Nonetheless, it became clear earlier in this analysis that despite the basic knowledge of the language, they continued to have difficulty understanding the American dialogue. Furthermore, they could not unanimously agree that the ability to speak the English language always facilitated a good career and income. This section of the project will include these opposing views. Leila A thinks that individuals benefit from the ability to speak the English language when they search for employment. I think so. It made a big difference for my husband because, even though he worked in an Arab country and he worked for an Arab company, they dealt with everything in English. All their correspondence was in English. Almost it was two guys in the office talking and they were Arab and everything was pretty much done in English. So I think it gave him an advantage. He's very articulate and his writing is away better than I could ever write and I was raised in this country. So I think that countries like parts of Saudi Arabia, parts of Jordan, parts of the West Bank, parts of Egypt, Libya a little bit Syria. I think it just gives you a little head start; but then again anybody can learn the language it they put their minds to it. 134

PAGE 144

A conversation with Malika D reveals that people who come from Englishspeaking countries may inherently have different career goals from people who immigrate from westernized Arab nations. For example, she suggests that people from Lebanon are competitive and more goal-oriented than people from Palestine. I feel the Lebanese that I know, a lot of them are so ambitious, and so educated and so intelligent. Jts unfortunate saying I'm Palestinian. I feel like even my own father; he studied agriculture and yet he worked in insurance all his life. There is nothing wrong with that, changing careers; but I feel like he didnt look up further, into just making it in the world and becoming successful. I met my husbands family where their parents are dead. They came to America and they started themselves; all the brothers are very successful. Theyve all done investments in their lives; and thats what I dont get. I mean they came; there is no parents, or nothing; nobody here to teach them and theyve learned all that. My father has been here for 30 years and my husband has only been here for less than half of that. I dont know, I dont know what it is. Thats what I try to figure out. What is different in their country? Were they more influenced by the Western lifestyle and success; and they look at so many ways of becoming successful. I feel a lot of the. Palestinians are just limited sometimes. .. And I think just everybody and their values in life. I dont know, I just feel such a competition with the Lebanese. Theyre just very successful and ambitious, and I dont know its very different for me. Sabah C seems to think that the ability to speak the English language is as important as being ambitious. If you are coming from Morocco and you at least know 50% of the English language, you handle yourself, understand what is being said and what you will say, and you can even easily understand the field youre in. It is unlike when you have to understand the words and the field. 135

PAGE 145

Simultaneously, she asserts that the country of origin does not affect a person's ability to find a good job. I don't think so. Your personality is what plays a role because I saw that my sister's kids knew the language a little bit and they didn't have any problems. They came and in three years, they secured good jobs and they have a good life. I then asked if the ability to do well was unique to her family, she responded: It is a person's drive that counts. Some Moroccan females came and they did not know the language but they were ready to work in any field, and they mentally overcame their sense of pride because they worked .... Several Moroccans spend 1 to 4 years playing around and eventually they realize that they need to get serious about their goals. Just the other day, several Moroccans graduated; and if each time 4 or 5 of them graduate, that is plenty. They earn their way by working and going to school. Not enough Moroccans have money when they come to this country; only a very small percentage of them do, like one in a thousand. Leila D, on the other hand, does not attach any significant value to this "country of origin" concept. Instead, she focuses on human potential. Q Do people who come from Arab westernized countries have an easier working experience in the U.S.? A We can sit down and feel sorry for ourselves and say our background and this and that is the obstacle, or we could also stand here and say we're gonna take the best ofboth worlds and make them work ... .It's in any society, in any trade; if you excel; if you want to, it will work. Thus, these various views demonstrate that the country of origin does not always affect an immigrant's ability to secure a good profession. 136

PAGE 146

Network Network refers to the ability of an immigrant to obtain employment through a chain of interconnected friends and members of the community. Current researchers try to determine if network influences the earning capacity of immigrant workers in the United States. The objective in this study is to describe the methods which are utilized by the participants to find employment. Sabah B reports that her brother helped her find employment. "I could get a job without any problem because these people knew my brother and everything." (Interview, p.17) She is a waitress at a restaurant. On the other hand, Leila C obtained a teacher's aide position through a word of mouth. "I just happened to be in school visiting my kids, just heard about it from teachers, went, applied and I got hired." (Interview, p.l) Sabah C who teaches at an Islamic school used the following method: I heard about the job from people at the mosque. I contacted the school and subsequently was hired. However, I had to follow all necessary procedures of hiring. I showed my file and teaching credentials to the school principal. He and other administrators carefully studied my later interviewed me and offered me the job. Leila A was placed at her current job through a network. But first, she briefly discusses how she secured other positions. 137

PAGE 147

The first job I'd actually got through people. The second I'd actually also found through people. My bank job I was actually placed through an agency, a temporary agency. My last two jobs were that way. The one with the professor and the one I did with data entry were actually networking because I knew somebody who knew them. Malika A refuses to use network to find employment because she does not want to inconvenience other people. Q Is there someone who can help you get a job through network? A No. There are some Americans but you don't ask them about anybody. Q Why? A Because they're all preoccupied with their own thing. Q Do you limit yourself? A Maybe, because I don't have a daily contact with Americans. Henceforth, there are some women who rely on network to find employment, while other individuals seek work independently. Indeed, there are women like Malika A who would not approach any other people about jobs. Thus, network does not always guarantee a good income. For example, Leila Cis a part-time employee at her children's school. She has no benefits and generates a modest income. Consequently, she baby-sits the neighbors' children for more revenue. Sabah B is able to earn high wages because she works at a good restaurant. Therefore, her earning capacity is related to the success of the restaurant and not the network. Sabah C earns good wages at the Islamic school; but her income is incomparable to 138

PAGE 148

teachers' income in public schools. Leila A states that her wages fluctuated throughout her working experience. I made the best money through the agency. They placed me in the best jobs. They make [their money] through you. The higher my salary, the bigger their commission is. The networking with the last two jobs, I don't know if they increased my money, but maybe increased my job satisfaction. Market Reality It has been demonstrated, thus far, that the language, education, job experience, age, country of origin, and network color the immigration experience of the participants. More significantly, each of these variables seems to affect the employability and earning capacity of the subjects differently. Specifically, some women argue that the language is instrumental in their working experience. Other individuals report that the job experience influences their ability to obtain employment. In other words, there is no consistency in how the participants are affected by these factors. This is the central argument in this thesis. As other scholars examine the impact of these variables on the earning capacity of immigrant workers in America, they have come to a similar conclusion. Following this argument, I will illustrate how certain Arab and American perceptions affect the participants in the work place. Malika D discusses that upon her 139

PAGE 149

return from an extended trip to Palestine, she felt that she had to learn how to interact with males. Therefore, she believes that several Arab women have difficulty with this issue. She also asserts that some women refuse to enter the work force because of a deficit in socialization skills with men. First of all, I went to all girls' school for four years; so I did not have to deal with guys too much. I didn't have guys in my class. I was not allowed to walk with a guy overseas. Yet all of the sudden I come back and there is guys in your classes. There is guys that you deal with every single day, you know. Right there, it overwhelms you how to speak to a man; and you're not allowed to be exposed to that for four years. I just had to learn so quick. I then asked the following question: Q Do you think that dealing with men discourages some Arab women from going to work? A Yes because I have one friend; they feel that they don't know to deal with a guy. They don't know how to deal with them. If a person is flirting, they feel that's it, you're supposed to go out with them. Where this is the way they are, a lot of them; do you know what I'm saying? That's why you have to tum it where you're talking to them and yet keep a professional manner with everything. But then they feel that it's just that they want to date and go out. .. but no, a lot of men are just trying to tease you, and they're trying to talk to you. First, this is the type of situation which Leila A was referring to when she talked about how immigration at an early age helped her" take things non-shortly or offensively" in an office environment. Second, it would not be safe to assume that all Arab women experience the same difficulty interacting with men in a professional setting. Malika D's statement demonstrates that certain cultural perceptions affect 140

PAGE 150

Arab women in the career world. But these women are also influenced by the views of the American people. For example, I asked Malika D and Leila A if an Arab female would be denied a job because of her foreign accent; first, Malika D responded: Yes, I've seen it happen to other women. There was one woman at work with me and she did have a heavy accent, and yes, people say "oh! she doesn't know it." I then inquired: Q Does it matter how educated you are? A Yes, they don't care. I've heard them say it. They felt that she's not as good because I've interviewed people, like I've interviewed people for my job when I was going to have a baby, and yes that affects them. Leila A gave the following feedback: Q Has the ability to speak the language and education helped make a difference in you wages versus someone who just came to this country? A I could have. I think it probably did a little bit, maybe not just a little bit, maybe a lot because I don't have an accent because when they first hear my name, they're like! I know that when my boss heard me speak because I was placed in his office through an agency, so they had told that "we have this girl named ... He's like "well I'll see her on .. First thing he told me "oh! you don't have an accent." I go No. I was born and raised here, why would I have an accent?" He said "Oh!" and then it just went on. . .It didn't make an impression on me at the time I guess now that I think about it; but yes it would probably make a difference for somebody. I see other bosses do it. They won't hire somebody with an accent. I asked if she could offer me a specific example; she replied: 141

PAGE 151

There was this one agent woman that wanted to fill a position in the department that shared the same office space with us and she was qualified as far as her intelligence was concerned but she had the strongest accent. It's very difficult to understand and I heard the manager of that department say "she's more than qualified for the job but I can't understand her", and they picked up somebody who was less qualified because they could understand him speak. Later, Malika D narrows her discussion to a concern about the corporate image and, meanwhile, avoids generalizations by stating that these situations do not occur in all places of employment. Depending on the job, that's what I'm telling you. Like my job, at first, I was doing all the work and I did not have to deal with people; but then we had the corporate accounts. I had to deal with people and that was very important to them that I would be able to talk to people and meet with people, and I think that affects them a lot. They want someone that can talk, and sometimes they feel like this other woman that she could not meet with people, and God they're corporate; people are going to look down on them, and they care about that. I mean when people come from Chicago, I would meet with them. These like vice presidents, sometimes the owners of the company, and I give them like summaries of the accounts and stuff like that, and they want someone that can talk to them, and joke around with them. Furthermore, individuals may not fit this corporate image because of gender, country of origin, and education. Malika D includes these factors in her conversation about job mobility. Sometimes, either you're a woman and they don't want to promote you; and sometimes it's because of where you're from, you don't get promoted; I mean I've seen it .... Sometimes they feel they would rather give [a job to] an American rather than a foreigner. They just feel that they're not up to skill when it comes to the job or the opportunities. 142

PAGE 152

Sometimes they'd promote a person just because of that degree that he came out of; they're going to give him that job rather than a person that has been in the that company for so many years. I mean there is all kinds of discrimination; and they might make up some reasons; but we feel that that does happen in the world. I mean sometimes you feel you're down on. And then, .like me because I was brought up in America, I can put up with the flirtations with men; it's just the way they talk; and some people take it as an insult. ... And I think if a foreign woman came, like my mother or somebody, and she's spoken to like that; I think they would quit or they could not handle it; and you have to put up with all these things because they want to know how far they can go. Malika D also talked about how some female applicants were not hired at the company where she worked because of their age. They interviewed some women they felt too old. They wanted a young girl. They wanted somebody that looked good too, and that comes to their affect. I saw them hire a secretary just because she looked good; and she ended up unfortunately being very dumb in my opinion. Those things have an affect on me; it's scary. There are two observations which can be made at this point of the analysis. One, several people may be subjected to these types of discrimination despite their ethnic background. This includes American-born citizens. Two, discrimination is not always detectable. Therefore, participants in this study are divided in their views on this topic. For instance, Leila B says: I mean ifyou and an American woman go to apply for a job, she will get the job before you do but they won't tell you that. I then asked if she personally experienced discrimination; she responded: 143

PAGE 153

Here in Denver it happened once when this girl and I went to apply at this accounting department; she did not have any experience, but she got the job. On the other hand, Leila C reports that she has not had any problems in the work place because of her ethnic background. No, because I don't think they would have hired me if they had a problem with that. Some women in the enclave also exhibit an indifferent and a more objective approach to discrimination. For example, I asked Sabah A if she thought that an Arab employer would offer a job to an Arab woman versus a woman from another country; she replied: They hire most cheaper. It doesn't matter if you're Arab or Jew or Mexican. If you take $4, I'll hire. lfyou take $5 I don't. I don't care what's your nationality. Sabah B nearly echoes the same view when she discusses job mobility in the enclave. Q What about job mobility? Would you think that Americans would get a job faster than you would? A I wouldn't think that because the boss is not American, especially my boss; he's Palestinian, and I tell you one thing a Palestinian and Jewish has in common is they are very good managers, they are very good bankers, they are very good business men; they will not care who is taking the place. They will only care the good one; how good he is, not 144

PAGE 154

what nationality or what color he is. That's good one about them, of course. Thus, discrimination is either admitted (Leila B), ignored because it is difficult to detect (Leila C), or logically dismissed (Sabah A and Sabah B). Finally, it can also be rationalized but uneasily refuted. For example, Malika D reasonably argues that there are several types of discrimination. However, she indicates that an Arab woman is pressured to assert herself in the work environment. Q Do you think that as a foreigner you have to prove yourself more? A Yes. A lot oftimes I do. I do feel it because people always mention something that you're from overseas. You know, when you meet new people from the company, or people that work in Chicago or whatever. Yes, they will say something always, like joke, like terrorists and stuff like that, just to say that you're from overseas; and yes, you do want to prove yourself that you know what you're doing. I challenged Malika D with the following questions: Q I'm sensing some type of contradiction because you said that, in your previous career life, you never faced any kind of discrimination? A Yes, I didn't. They didn't use it in a way of discrimination; but you feel that little thing that you want to prove that us foreigners can really be good at what we do; but they never took it against me. Q How would you know? A Yes, you never know. I didn't have anything discriminated against me as a person; nothing said against me because I felt like I did do good at whatever I did. 145

PAGE 155

In essence, this discussion about discrimination demonstrates that, in the context of immigration experience, Arab women are challenged to be indifferent or influenced by certain perceptions and attitudes in the American career world. Despite these difficulties, participants in this project recognize the advantages of working in the United States. These advantages are clearly defined by women who have had the opportunity to participate in the enclave and mainstream American market. For example, Leila C reports that although there is tremendous loyalty between an Arab employer and his employees, this relationship is inherently unprofessional. Q Can you briefly discuss the employer\employee relationship back in Kuwait and the United States? A Employer\employee, I think we were closer. It was more like a family in the Middle East. It's more of professional relationship here. When we do parties and stuff, they're not that personal. Where over there, it was like a family where everybody is friendly. They visited each other at night. Leila A clarifies the term "unprofessional" as she compares the advantages of working for an American company to the disadvantages of participating in the Arab enclave. An advantage, I think it tends to be more professional than if you were to work for an Arab company. Yes, I've known people that, yes, they get paid under the table and they don't have to pay taxes and everything is all great for them but the job satisfaction is not there. 146

PAGE 156

vtew. Q What do you mean? A They either expect grunt work from you. They think they own you sometimes .... They're not very professional. One day the rules will be this way; the next day would be turned totally around. You'll do something this way because you're told to do it this way, the following day it would be totally wrong. They feel like the only way that they can feel good about themselves is by controlling unnecessary power in the person. Sabah A who works for an Arab jeweler confirms this If the years go back and I'm young now, first thing I do I go finish my education and I will never work for an Arab after my experience because they own you. They think you work, and you earn every dollar you make, but they still think sometimes that they're doing you a favor. Sabah B presents another disadvantage of working for Arab employers. The disadvantage, they are more demanding with you than the others ... And of course they will treat the way they will try not to hurt you also, unless they want, but they know how not to. If they are disrespectful people, then that's it; but otherwise if they want to be, they know how to because it's the same culture; it's the same feelings. That's it. 147

PAGE 157

CHAPTER SIX THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE PARTICIPANTS Remarkably and unpredictably women in this study seem to be happy with their personal and professional lives. They unanimously agree that they have been enriched by the immigration experience. Their discussion evolves around self-confidence. For instance, Sabah A says: I never believed in my life that I'll be responsible, take care of the kids and the house and all that by myself. This was impossible for; but now thank God I did it. I'm so proud I did what I had to do. That's all the benefits, really I got out of the divorce. I learned to depend on myself. Before, anything I want to do, I get scared. You know how the Middle East people, any decision, he [husband] have to make my decisions for me. So this the one step that I'm proud of taking. Sabah D reports the following: My personality became stronger a 100%. I mean this is something I really like. It made me very independent. I know I could help my husband unlike a woman who stays at home, God forgive me, she becomes a burden. I know I could build a future. I could take care of my kids. My kids [if the husband dies], I would never marry again, I know I could make it. I don't need anybody else. These things made me [have a different outlook] on life. Malika B refuses to conform to the role that other Arab women continue to play in a marital relationship. 148

PAGE 158

My mind is not like housewives back home. When their husband is there, they shine his shoes, or whatever. Sometimes they [her children] see these things when they go back home. No I would not do that. No I wouldn't. If I want to get my husband a glass of water, this is my choice, and ifl don't want to, just get up and get it, you know. Or you have to keep your figure, or I'm gonna get married again or something. I don't have to do anything like this just to keep you here. If you're gonna go, just go ahead and go and see ifl'm gonna cry. So these things, it changed me, you know. Women who work outside the home find happiness in balancing their careers and personal lives. Leila D indicates that employment has made her a better wife and parent. I find that I'm a better mother, a better housewife when I'm outside in the work force. I give my eight hours or ten hours a day and I feel that I've missed or maybe neglected, or put on hold my family. So I come home and give it more than a 100% to make that void. Ifi stayed at home, I think I would not be giving it a high percentage; I would give it 80% or 70% because I have no other thing to compare it to. So definitely working outside the house with the American people has been a positive thing for me. Initially I thought women who that went out and left their kids in day care was the worse thing. I couldn't survive by just being a mother by itself I had to be a mother and a working woman, and thai gives me a happy balance. The kids say "mom, when you go out and work you're just in a better mood." Leila A also claims that work improves her mood and marital relationship. It gives me energy. When I was staying home all day with my kids, although they require a lot of energy, I got tired quickly, I got bored quickly, I got nervous quickly, I got upset quickly. So it gives an outlet to just talk to adults without saying "no mom don't do this; no honey we don't do this." It gives time away from my kids a little bit and it's good for both of us, I think, because eventually we start getting on each other's nerves. I'll get on his nerves and he'll get on my mine ... .It's just like why don't go at least do something for couple of hours to try 149

PAGE 159

to refocus and re-energize. Now I feel like I have more energy even though I'm doing more things. Despite the occasional quarrels with her spouse, Leila A contends that she is reasonably satisfied with her personal life. She announces that her satisfaction rate is between 8 1/2 and 9 on a scale from 1 to 10. Interestingly, the satisfaction with personal relationships for most women in this study seem to be in the same range. However, there are some exceptions. For example, Leila D says the following about her marriage: On a scale from 1 to 10 I feel the marriage I have had is a 12. And for him [husband] to juggle the two different hands, being a traditional Arab man and an American, he does an excellent job. On the other hand, Leila C's satisfaction slides to the lower end of the scale because of her husband's relatives who have lived in her house for more than five years. Sabah B is relatively a recent immigrant; therefore, she is currently unstable in her personal and professional life. Sabah A feels unfulfilled because of an extended celibacy and a controlling employer. Her only happiness stems from raising three responsible children. There are also variations in the satisfaction level of these individuals with their professions. However, it appears that the satisfaction with their personal lives is higher than the satisfaction with their jobs. For instance, Leila D associates job gratification 150

PAGE 160

happy. Therefore, a profession may become a second priority if a woman realizes that she cannot successfully maintain her duties inside and outside the home. Also, when a woman fails to accomplish these tasks, she is severally stigmatized by members of the extended family and society. In the strict context of culture, the Arab woman follows other guidelines which involve gender roles. For example, all the participants in this study do 90% of the household work even when they are employed. Interestingly, most of them justify this function in terms of fairness to the husband. Here is how Leila D responds to the following question: Q Has anyone been helping you with the household chores or did you have to do it all alone? A I would say I did 90% of it. I receive at times some help from my husband and from the children. We were not in a financial situation to hire outside help and I was doing it professionally if you want to call it that. For other people, no ones work was good enough for me. I had to do it myself; but yes, about 90% I would but not a 100. I got about 10% because he [husband] puts endless amount of work at the office and he's into computers; so even when he has a day off, he does side jobs ... So as long as he's the bread winner, I got no problem doing the other stuff and they know when I'm struggling or I could use a hand, so that's acceptable to me. Malika A reverberates nearly the same message even when I provoke her to reassess the definition of gender roles. Q If you migrated to America at an early age, do you think that you might have different ideas about women's role at home? 152

PAGE 161

with proficiency. Therefore, she states that her career fulfillment is presently 5 on a scale from I to 10. Sabah Crates her satisfaction as follows: 11100%, frankly ... (Interview, p.4) Upon her immigration to the United States, Sabah C was not happy because she worked outside the teaching field. Nonetheless, when she secured a teacher's position at the Islamic school, her satisfaction rate increased. Sabah A also seems to greatly enjoy her profession because she feels highly competent as a sales representative in the jewelry industry. However, she is less satisfied in her relationship with her Arab employer. Sabah D expresses that work with family members is occasionally tedious; nonetheless, she is happy because she is the owner of a successful restaurant. Leila A enjoys working for her professor but does not consider her current job as a career. Finally, Leila B and Leila C seem content with their teacher's aide positions. However, they admit that they could be happier if they had more stable and fulfilling careers. In comparison, women who are currently housewives concede that they would appreciate a little diversion from the monotonous household and child-care duties; nonetheless, they are significantly satisfied. It is very important to understand how Arab women perceive their role as housewives and career individuals in religious and cultural terms. To reiterate, Arab women believe that they have a moral obligation to keep the husband and the children 151

PAGE 162

A It would depend on how I was raised. For example, ifl migrated with my parents and witnessed that they played separate roles at home, I would do what they do. Q Gender roles are not always clear, therefore what do you mean by your husband has a role and you have one? A For example, if my husband comes home tired from working and I tell him that I did not clean the house because 1 could not do it, this would be wrong of me to do because he would be tired from work .. .I dont like that. Q This would be out of respect to your husband because he would have worked all day? A Yes. I must be fair to him because, for example, as long as he meets my needs; he gives me money, clothes and everything, I have to make him feel comfortable because he too makes me comfortable. Q So this is an issue of respect not so much an issue of gender roles? A Yes. Q Interesting! Other women like Malika D prefer to independently do all household duties because they are quicker and more efficient. Q Do members of your family help with the household chores? A Never. Q Why? A Because I work so fast. I just basically do everything the way 1 want to do it. Thats it. Thus, Arab women interpret the gender roles differently. Nonetheless, some of them have helped defuse these roles between the husband and wife. Previously, 153

PAGE 163

women used to distinctively assume all the responsibility of raising the children and taking care of the home, while men were in charge of the finances. Today, men and women share these obligations. A conversation with Leila A demonstrates this observation. Yes. He makes the money and I spend it. I do all the finances though in the home. He gets the pay check and then I get it that evening and I do all the bills, and I do all the investing, and I do all the saving because I worked at the bank for so long; it just kind of comes naturally to me. I can do it quickly; whereas he's just so busy, he doesn't have the time. He's back in school. I can do it much quicker than him. Similarly, Leila C plays diversified roles. She works and helps manage the household. I think I'm doing really good because I have the responsibility of a job, kids, house, all the kids' appointments, everything I usually take care of. My husband is there to help, but he's not in charge. It's my problem. If something needs to get done, I have to make sure it gets done somehow I later ask if her culture dictates that she play this role; she responds: I don't think so. It just has to do with the way things are right now; but my husband is there to help. Leila A displays the same objectivity about her own role with her spouse. 154

PAGE 164

Well, we don't split duties like per se "oh well! on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays you do the dishes. No, we don't do but I do the cooking during the week mostly because I get home first. My husband does a lot of cooking on the weekend, like especially in the Summer, he loves to barbecue and he'll do most of that on the weekend. The way we split duties the way it makes the most sense for us. Despite this open attitude about responsibilities, the financial role of the Arab man continues to be clearly defined. He essentially supports the family. Subsequently, most Arab women, like Leila C, are protective of their personal assets. Between you and me, my husband doesn't know what I make, what I do with the money, what I do with my pay check; he has no idea. He never asks and I'm in charge of our bank account and all that. He doesn't ask me. He's a very generous man. He's really nice. Q Is your husband in charge financially? A He's the bread and butter. Yes, he is in charge of everything, but I make sure things get done; that's why; he doesn't have time to do that. He makes the money and I spend it. Sabah C describes the financial arrangement with her husband as follows: My husband takes care of the household expenses .... My money is mine and his money is also mine Gokingly); but he helps me at home. For now, the financial question is not an issue between us. He manages things like paying for rent and food; but when he is in financial need, I give him. But when he is not in need ... I mean when there is a deficit, I cover it. Like recently when I bought something, I told him I'm just lending you; and when he recovers his money, he pays me back. Sabah C is more liberal about using separate bank accounts from her spouse. On the other hand, women like Sabah D strongly reject this idea. 155

PAGE 165

We don't have things like this. I mean whatever I want, I just go and get and that's it. He's not limiting me from this, or he hides behind a dollar. You don't do this here and I don't have my account. I don't have all this ... that they believe in this country. That's the way it is. I mean we're accustomed to things exactly the way they are back home since a long time. It's not because you come here, you're gonna take the mentality in here. I don't feel it's the right way, and I'm not gonna let my kids grow to believe in it. I then try to explain that keeping separate accounts might symbolize economic equality and freedom for an Arab woman. She answers: No, I'm against it. I'm against anyone who defends these rights and freedom. I mean I have freedom but I don't believe in this. Ifyou have understanding with your husband, that's it; and the question of freedom, what freedom? At this point, a brief outline of ideas will help clarify the meaning of this psychological assessment. One, it has been suggested that the immigration experience builds the self-confidence of most Arab women. Also, self-confidence causes personal satisfaction. Two, a social order with imperfectly balanced gender roles continues to be an inherent source of happiness for these women. A Russian woman named Yana Vishnitsky who shared her immigration experience in a panel discussion on February 16, 1997 at the Mizel Museum of Judaica observed that immigrant women, unlike immigrant men, excel in America because they know how to survive in patriarchal and democratic systems. Immigrant men, on the other hand, seem to lose self-confidence and become emotionally distressed in an egalitarian society. Three, satisfaction can be gained in a search for balance between two different cultures. For example, there are 156

PAGE 166

several aspects of the American society which Arab immigrant women enjoy. Sabah B appreciates the friendliness of the American people, the opportunity to complete college education in a short period oftime, and the availability of jobs. Malika Cis happy about being able to borrow and invest money in the American market. Leila A likes freedom, independence, and extracurricular activities in which the children and adults can participate. Leila C cherishes the kindness and honesty of the American citizens. Malika A and Leila B appreciate cleanliness, organization, and amenities in this society. Simultaneously, these individuals value their religion, culture, and the way they raise the children. A major source of dissatisfaction for Arab parents in the United States is the inability to control the things which the children are exposed to such as sex, violence, and drugs. Leila A states that she fears the influence of these factors more than racism. The drugs and the gangs scare me more than racism does. And racism if you have a strong self-image, you kind of get over it. It's not easy to get over but I think you can get over it. But the drugs and the gangs scare me more I think than anything else in the world, and not so much that my son is gonna get involved but just being a by-stander. That scares me more than anything else because I think or at least I pray that I can get him involved in other things where he wouldn't want to get involved in a gang; but I'm so afraid, you know, they're so prevalent in school that he could be just a by-stander, you know; he may have nothing to do with it but that particular incident. That scares me more than anything else in the world. 157

PAGE 167

Consequently, many Arab immigrants become highly protective of their children and culture. However, this protective attitude complicates life in two cultures. Malika B describes the difficulty of achieving a balance between two cultures. Sometimes you can honestly say with people that have two cultures, they're not here and they're not here; where are you? But you have the choice to keep your culture and your old fashioned ways and the religion, and then you pick up from here some things that: you grow, and you don't have to be so closed, and so old fashioned; you just have to compromise and grow with it. This is one of the reasons women in this study advocate change. For example, Leila D encourages Arab women to play a more active role in the community. Go out. If you want to go out in your scarf, go in your scarf; show that side of the Arab and Muslim women. Get involved and the money, you don't need the money, fine; you make the kids feel much better if you're involved ... 1 think a lot ofus.have the knowledge and the basic education .. .If they don't let you go out, share the material that the kids get. .. get involved even in that way if it's impossible to go out on your own .... So there is a lot to be done ... .I think the wealth of knowledge is endless. If you have it, share it. If you don't have it, have someone else teach it to you. Leila A recognizes that the Arab people may not have made great contributions to the American society for the following reasons: They were pretty much family oriented. They were here to make a living to send them to their families, and they were very segregated. They kept to themselves. Now the second generation is being a little more involved politically, media wise and things like that. I don't think 158

PAGE 168

they contributed as much to the American culture as they probably could have, but I think it's just a matter of time. I ask Leila A about the type of contributions which she expects the Arab people to make; she replies: I think their biggest thing will probably be political because that seems on the forefront of what's going on right now. Maybe education wise. That's also really a big thing. They're trying to deal with problems of education a lot. The religious community more than per se the Arab community; they're getting more involved in the correctional system where they try to go into the prisons and help the inmates tum their lives around. That's really a big thing. I think religion will be really a good thing. 159

PAGE 169

CONCLUSION The primary goal in this study was to examine employment issues as they pertain to immigrant women, and to define their contribution to the American society. The first purpose was to include and go beyond the narrow economic approach which current researchers use to measure the contribution of immigrant workers. The second purpose was to illustrate this contribution through an investigation of factors which influence the decision of these women to work inside or outside the home. This decision was subsequently explained in different contexts of religion and culture. The third purpose was to investigate the stereotype that immigrant workers steal jobs and drain the U.S. economy. To make all these points, a group of twelve Arab\Muslim immigrant women from Colorado were selected for this study. Like in this study, research shows that immigrant women have many reasons for entering or not entering the U.S. work force. For example, children, income stability of the husband, individual characteristics (i.e., age, education, language proficiency, experience, and network), and a simple personal choice are some ofthe reasons women may or may not participate in the labor market. 160

PAGE 170

Once in the market, these women seem to be restrained more than encouraged in their income ability by structural factors like market condition, sex, age, wage and race discrimination. A footnote spells out the difference in opinion among the participants on discrimination. Specifically, some believe that discrimination exists in the mainstream American labor market. Others cannot detect it. And some claim that they have not been subjected to it but see it happen to other individuals. Interestingly, Arab women cannot escape some of these limiting elements even in the ethnic enclave. Some scholars have come to the same conclusion (Gilbertson, 1992). However, the results of this study illustrate that most immigrant women possess the strength and willingness to overcome all these obstacles to generate income if they have to or want to. In this specific context, current research complements the results of this study. Further, it shows that other factors like household composition, self-employment, and second-income strategies support immigrant women in their economic activities (Jensen, 1991; Dallalfar, 199; Kibria, 1994). In tum, this thesis demonstrates how Arab women, through a religious concept ofKanaa and "smart" management of household finances, which is reinforced by culture, earn the label of good economic agents. This study establishes that women are allowed in the Islamic religion and Arab culture to work outside the home. Although the participants outline the specific 161

PAGE 171

conditions under which they are obliged to give priority to family over work, their statements should not be taken to indicate that religion and culture prohibit them from working. In addition, a noticeable change in attitude has occurred among Arab people regarding the participation of women in the career and academic world. Today, for example, many Arab families encourage their daughters to work and go to school. Nonetheless, even the Arab women who have a more modern outlook tend to be influenced by their own religion and culture. For instance, the participants who grew up in this country seem to be attached to their heritage. Perhaps this is their way of protecting their identity. Obviously, survival in two different cultures, Arab and American, is a source of stress and struggle for identity. This particular statement takes us back to the first question of whether all parts of an identity stay truly intact when an immigrant makes an effort to "adjust" to the American culture. It has been demonstrated that some Arab immigrants do not change their Arab way of living even when they reside in this country for a long time. On the other hand, other Arab individuals create a happy medium between the Arab and American cultures. In fact, this thesis shows the different assimilation approaches ofboth groups of people. In the meantime, it is obvious that the majority of Arab immigrants are highly sensitive to the negative aspects ofthe American culture (e.g. drugs, sex, and violence); but this does not mean that they are immune from the influence of these elements. Instead, it implies that their ability to "confront" these destructive aspects of the culture explains 162

PAGE 172

their protective and hypervigilant attitude. Consequently, in response to the second question, whether the loss of the ability to "confront" means alienation, one might say that indeed some Arab people do feel alienated. Nonetheless, this fight for identity translates the social contribution of Arab immigrant to the American society. Many Arab parents, for example, promote the education of their children, involvement in the community, and adherence to positive social and family values. Zhou and Bankston (1994), Bankston and Zhou (1995), Kao and Tienda (I 995) have discovered that this type of social capital is as important as the economic investment to the future of the United States. This idea constitutes one of the major themes of this thesis. Clearly, Arab women are active participants in creating this social capital. They teach their offspring the value of honesty, family, community and tradition. The attitudes of some of the participants in the work place, for instance, reveal how these values continue to be undermined by American capitalism. Further, the fact that some of the participants are also able to maintain a job defines their economic contribution to America. This is another important theme in this study. Although research shows evidence of the social and economic contribution of immigrants, it does not soften the stereotype that immigrant workers steal jobs from American citizens and drag the economy of this nation down. The destruction of this myth constitutes the final goal in this thesis. 163

PAGE 173

Future researchers may make a tremendous contribution to the United States by addressing the same topic I have addressed. Undoubtedly, the struggle with racism and immigration issues can be corrected by a more accurate and realistic discussion ofwhat interferes with the economic stability ofthis country. However, it would perhaps be easier to focus on only one of the three groups of women. Also, a selection of a broader sample of women may bring to surface other valuable issues. 164

PAGE 174

REFERENCES Bankston ill, CarlL. and Min Zhou. 1995. "Religious Participation, Ethnic Identification, and Adaptation of Vietnamese Adolescents in an Immigrant Community." The Sociological Quarterly 36(3):523-534. Bates, Timothy. 1994. "Social Resources Generated by Group Support Networks May not be Beneficial to Asian Immigrant-Owned Small Businesses." Social Forces 72(3):671-689. Blau, Francine. 1980. "Immigration and Labor Earnings in Early Twentieth Century America" In Julian Simon and Julie DaVanzo, eds., Research in Population Economics {29 Greenwich, Conn., JAI Press):21-41. Borjas, George J. 1995. "Assimilation and Changes in Cohort Quality Revisited: What Happened to Immigrant Earnings in the 1980s?" Journal of Labor Economics 13(2):201-245. Chiswick, Barry. 1978. "The affect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men." Journal of Political Economy (October): 897-922. Chiswick, Barry Rand Paul W. Miller. 1995. "The Endogeneity between Language and Earnings: International Analyses." Journal of Labor Economics 13(2):247288. Chiswick, Barry Rand Yinon Cohen and Tzippi Zach. 1997. "The Labor Market Status oflmmigrants: Effects of the Unemployment Rate at Arrival and Duration of Residence." Industrial Labor Relations Review 50(2):289-303. Dallalfar, Arlene. 1994. "Iranian Women as Immigrant Entrepreneurs." Gender and Society 8(4):541-561. Duleep, Harriet Orcutt and Mark C. Regets. 1996. "Earnings Convergence: Does it Matter Where Immigrants Come from or why?" Canadian Journal of Economics 29 nSPEISS: Sl30-135. Duleep, Harriet Orcutt and Seth Sanders. 1993. "The Decision to Work by Married Immigrant Women." Industrial and Labor Relations Review 46(4):677-690. 165

PAGE 175

Fairlie, Robert W. and Bruce D. Meyer. 1996. "Ethnic and Racial Self-Employment Differences and Possible Explanations." The Journal of Human Resources 31(4):757-793. Gilbertson, Greta A 1992. "Women's Labor and Enclave Employment: The case of Dominican and Colombian Women in New York City." International Migration Review 29(3):657-670. Hondagneu-Sotelo, Pierrette. 1994. "Regulating the Unregulated?: Domestic Workers' Social Network." Social Problems 41 ( 1): 50-65. Hurtado, Aida, Patricia Gurin and Timothy Peng. 1994. "Social IdentitiesA Framework for Studying the Adaptations oflmmigrants and Ethnics: The Adaptations ofMexicans in the United States." Social Problems 41(1):129151. Jensen, Leif. 1991. "Secondary Earner Strategies and Family Poverty: Immigrant native Differentials, 1960-1980." International Migration Review 25(1):113133. Kanjanapan, Wilawan. 1994. "The Immigration of Asian Professionals to the United States: 1988-1990." International Migration Review 29(1):7-32. Kao, Grace and Marta Tienda. 1995. "Optimism and Achievement: The Educational Performance oflmmigrant Youth." Social Science Quarterly 76(1):1-19. Kibria, Nazli. 1994. "Household Structure and Family Ideologies: The Dynamics of Immigrant Vietnamese Refugees." Social Problems 41 ( 1): 81-97. Lindstrom, David P. and Douglas S. Massey. 1994. "Selective Emigration, Cohort Quality, and Models of Immigrant Assimilation." Social Science Research 23(4):315-349. Long, John. 1980. "The Effect of Americanization on Earnings: Some Evidence for Women." Journal of Political Economy 88(3):620-29. Madamba, Anna B. and Gordon F. DeJong. 1994. "Determinants ofWhite-Collar Employment: Puerto Rican Women in Metropolis New York." Social Science Quarterly 75(1):53-66 166

PAGE 176

McDowell, John M. and Larry D Singell, Jr. 1993. "Assessment ofthe Human of International Migrants: An Application to U.S. Immigration." Regional Studies 27(4):351-364. McPherson, David and James Stewart. 1989. "The Labor Force Participation and Earnings Profiles of Married Female Immigrants." Quarterly Review of Economics and Business 29 (Autumn):57-72. Nee, Victor, Jimy M. Sanders and Scott Sernau. 1994. "Job Transitions in an Immigrant Metropolis: Ethnic Boundaries and the Mixed Economy." American Sociological Review 28(1):3-31. Petras, Elizabeth M. 1992. "The Shirt on your Back: Immigrant Workers and the Reorganization ofthe Garment Industry." Social Justice 19(11):76-114. Reimers, Cordelia. 1984. "Sources ofthe Family Income Differentials Among Hispanics, Blacks, and White Non-Hispanics." American Journal of Sociology 89(4):889-903. Repak, Terry A. 1994. "Labor Market Incorporation of Central American Immigrants in Washington, D.C." Social Problems41(1):I14-129. Repak, Terry A. 1994. "Labor Recruitment and the Lure ofthe Capital: Central American Migrants in Washington, D.C." Gender and Society 8(4):507-524. Segura, Denise A. 1989. "Chicana and Mexican Immigrant Women at Work: The Impact of Class, Race, and Gender on Occupational Mobility." Gender and Society 3(1):37-52. Stier, Haya. 1991. "Immigrant Women Go to Work: Analysis oflmmigrant Wives Labor Supply for Six Asian Groups." Social Science Quarterly 72(1):67-90. Tienda, Marta and Audrey Singer. 1995. "Wage Mobility ofUndocumented Workers in the United States." International Migration Review 29(1 ): 112-138. Villar, Maria De Loudres. 1994. "Hindrances to the development of an Ethnic Economy Among Mexican Migrants." Human Organization 53(3):263-268. Waldinger, Roger. 1994. "The Making ofthe Immigrant Niche." International Migration Review 28(1):3-31. 167

PAGE 177

Waldinger, Roger and Greta Gilbertson. 1994. "Immigrants' Progress: Ethnic and Gender Differences Among U.S. Immigrants in the 1980s." Sociological Perspectives 37(3):431-444. Yamanaka, Keiko and Kent McClelland. 1994. "Earning the Model-Minority Image: Diverse Strategies of Economic Adaptation by Asian-American Women." Ethnic and Racial Studies 17(1):79-114. Zhou, Min and Bankston, III. 1994. "Social Capital and the Adaptation ofthe Second Generation: The Case ofVietnamese Youth in New Orleans." International Migration Review 28(4):821-845. 168

PAGE 178

REFERENCES Bankston III, CarlL. and Min Zhou. 1995. "Religious Participation, Ethnic Identification, and Adaptation of Vietnamese Adolescents in an Immigrant Community." The Sociological Quarterly 36(3):523-534. Bates, Timothy. 1994. "Social Resources Generated by Group Support Networks May not be Beneficial to Asian Immigrant-Owned Small Businesses.11 Social Forces 72(3):671-689. Blau, Francine. 1980. "Immigration and Labor Earnings in Early Twentieth Century America" In Julian Simon and Julie DaVanzo, eds., Research in Population Economics {29 Greenwich, Conn., JAI Press):21-41. Borjas, George J. 1995. "Assimilation and Changes in Cohort Quality Revisited: What Happened to Immigrant Earnings in the 1980s?" Journal of Labor Economics 13(2):201-245. Chiswick, Barry. 1978. "The affect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men." Journal of Political Economy (October): 897-922. Chiswick, Barry Rand Paul W. Miller. 1995. "The Endogeneity between Language and Earnings: International Analyses." Journal of Labor Economics 13(2):247288. Chiswick, Barry Rand Yinon Cohen and Tzippi Zach. 1997. "The Labor Market Status of Immigrants: Effects ofthe Unemployment Rate at Arrival and Duration of Residence." Industrial Labor Relations Review 50(2):289-303. Dallalfar, Arlene. 1994. "Iranian Women as Immigrant Entrepreneurs." Gender and Society 8(4):541-561. Duleep, Harriet Orcutt and Mark C. Regets. 1996. 11Earnings Convergence: Does it Matter Where Immigrants Come from or why?" Canadian Journal of Economics 29 nSPEISS: SIJ0-135. Duleep, Harriet Orcutt and Seth Sanders. 1993. "The Decision to Work by Married Immigrant Women." Industrial and Labor Relations Review 46(4):677-690. 165

PAGE 179

Fairlie, Robert W. and Bruce D. Meyer. 1996. "Ethnic and Racial Self-Employment Differences and Possible Explanations." The Journal of Human Resources 31(4):757-793. Gilbertson, Greta A. 1992. "Women's Labor and Enclave Employment: The case of Dominican and Colombian Women in New York City." International Migration Review 29(3):657-670. Hondagneu-Sotelo, Pierrette. 1994. "Regulating the Unregulated?: Domestic Workers' Social Network." Social Problems 41(1):50-65. Hurtado, Aida, Patricia Gurin and Timothy Peng. 1994. "Social IdentitiesA Framework for Studying the Adaptations oflmmigrants and Ethnics: The Adaptations of Mexicans in the United States." Social Problems 41 ( 1): 129151. Jensen, Leif. 1991. "Secondary Earner Strategies and Family Poverty: Immigrant native Differentials, 1960-1980." International Migration Review 25(1): 113-133. Kanjanapan, Wilawan. 1994. "The Immigration of Asian Professionals to the United States: 1988-1990." International Migration Review 29( 1): 7-3 2. Kao, Grace and Marta Tienda. 1995. "Optimism and Achievement: The Educational Performance oflmmigrant Youth." Social Science Quarterly 76(1 ): 1-19. Kibria, Nazli. 1994. "Household Structure and Family Ideologies: The Dynamics of Immigrant Vietnamese Refugees." Social Problems 41 ( 1): 81-97. Lindstrom, David P. and Douglas S. Massey. 1994. "Selective Emigration, Cohort Quality, and Models of Immigrant Assimilation." Social Science Research 23(4):315-349. Long, John. 1980. "The Effect of Americanization on Earnings: Some Evidence for Women." Journal of Political Economy 88(3 ):620-29. Madamba, Anna B. and Gordon F. DeJong. 1994. "Determinants of White-Collar Employment: Puerto Rican Women in Metropolis New York." Social Science Quarterly 75{1):53-66 166

PAGE 180

McDowell, John M. and Larry D Singell, Jr. 1993. "Assessment ofthe Human of International Migrants: An Application to U.S. Immigration." Regional Studies 27(4):351-364. McPherson, David and James Stewart. 1989. "The Labor Force Participation and Earnings Profiles ofMarried Female Immigrants." Quarterly Review of Economics and Business 29 (Autumn):57-72. Nee, Victor, Jimy M. Sanders and Scott Sernau. 1994. "Job Transitions in an Immigrant Metropolis: Ethnic Boundaries and the Mixed Economy." American Sociological Review 28(1):3-31. Petras, Elizabeth M. 1992. "The Shirt on your Back: Immigrant Workers and the Reorganization ofthe Gannent Industry." Social Justice 19(11):76-114. Reimers, Cordelia. 1984. "Sources of the Family Income Differentials Among Hispanics, Blacks, and White NonHispanics." American Journal of Sociology 89(4):889-903. Repak, Terry A. 1994. "Labor Market Incorporation of Central American Immigrants in Washington, D.C." Social Problems 41(1):114-129. Repak, Terry A. 1994. "Labor Recruitment and the Lure of the Capital: Central American Migrants in Washington, D.C." Gender and Society 8(4):507-524. Segura, Denise A. 1989. "Chicana and Mexican Immigrant Women at Work: The Impact of Class, Race, and Gender on Occupational Mobility." Gender and Society 3(1):37-52. Stier, Haya. 1991. "Immigrant Women Go to Work: Analysis oflmmigrant Wives Labor Supply for Six Asian Groups." Social Science Quarterly 72(1):67-90. Tienda, Marta and Audrey Singer. 1995. "Wage Mobility ofUndocumented Workers in the United States." International Migration Review 29(1): 112-138. Villar, Maria De Loudres. 1994. "Hindrances to the development of an Ethnic Economy Among Mexican Migrants." Human Organization 53(3):263-268. Waldinger, Roger. 1994. "The Making ofthe Immigrant Niche." International Migration Review 28(1):3-31. 167

PAGE 181

Waldinger, Roger and Greta Gilbertson. 1994. "Immigrants' Progress: Ethnic and Gender Differences Among U.S. Immigrants in the 1980s." Sociological Perspectives 37(3):431-444. Yamanaka, Keiko and Kent McClelland. 1994. "Earning the Model-Minority Image: Diverse Strategies of Economic Adaptation by Asian-American Women." Ethnic and Racial Studies 17 ( 1): 79-114. Zhou, Min and Bankston, III. 1994. "Social Capital and the Adaptation ofthe Second Generation: The Case ofVietnamese Youth in New Orleans." International Migration Review 28(4):821 ... 845 . F 168