The Role of Language and Career Management Self-efficacy on the Career Adjustment of Immigrant Women in Canada

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Once they arrive in Canada, immigrants often have difficulties finding employment that matches their qualifications and skills. Having language competencies and career management skills are critical for immigrants in gaining employment (e.g., Lee & Westwood, 1996). However, the mechanisms through which these two factors facilitate the career adjustment of immigrants are unknown. This study explores how language and career management skills influence the career adjustment of immigrant women in Canada. Career adjustment is individuals’ psychological comfort towards different aspects of their job (Black, 1988). Through face-to-face semi-structured interviews, six immigrant women discussed the career barriers they faced in Canada. They described how it was difficult to learn the language and develop career management skills, but as they gained confidence with the language and learned skills such as making and maintaining professional networks, the better they adjusted to their new roles. Interestingly, language and career management self-efficacy beliefs were more important than the actual skills in the career adjustment of these immigrant women. Those with low self-efficacy beliefs were dissatisfied with their career status, often being unemployed or underemployed, whereas those with high self-efficacy were involved in their desired job and satisfied with their career status. Applying social cognitive career theory (Lent et al., 1994), we propose that self-efficacy is an important moderating factor through which language and career management skills affect the career adjustment of immigrant women. Low self-efficacy may function as a barrier by decreasing the confidence of immigrant women, and thus, decreasing the likelihood of performing well in critical situations such as a job interview. This study presents a novel application of social cognitive theory that can potentially inspire more fruitful research. Further, the results can aid in designing effective interventions such as offering programs that enhance both the skills and self-efficacy of immigrant women.


Keywords: Immigrant Women, Career Management, Language Skills, Self-efficacy Beliefs, Social Cognitive Career Theory
Stream: Immigration, Refugees
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Role of Language and Career Management Self-efficacy in the Career Adjustment of Immigrant Women, The


Maria Rasouli

PhD Student, Psychology Department, Carleton University
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Maria Rasouli is a PhD candidate in the Psychology Department at Carleton University. She has a B.A. (Honours) in clinical psychology and an M.A. in experimental psychology, both from Tehran University in Iran. Maria has extensive experience as a research and teaching assistant, both in Iran and in Canada. She is currently working on her doctoral dissertation project entitled “Predictors of Career Adjustment for Immigrant Women in Canada”.

Dr. Lorraine Dyke

Associate Professor, Eric Sprott School of Business, Carleton University
Ottawa, ON, Canada

Dr. Lorraine Dyke is an Associate Professor in the Eric Sprott School of Business at Carleton University where she teaches courses in Management and Organizational Behaviour, Women in Management, Managing Workforce Diversity and Managing Groups. Dr. Dyke is also the founder and current Director of the Centre for Research and Education on Women and Work and the Management Development Program for Women at Carleton. Professor Dyke holds an M.B.A. and Ph.D. in Management from Queen's University. Dr. Dyke's research interests centre on careers, the changing workplace and women in management. Dr. Dyke is a co-author of two monographs: Career Development in the Public Service: Building a World-Class Workforce published by Treasury Board in 1999 and Managing High Technology Employees published by Carswell in 2000. She is the author of numerous research articles and has received extensive funding for her research. She is also the recipient of three Best Paper Awards from the Academy of Management and the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada. Dr. Dyke was recently nominated as a YMCA-YWCA Woman of Distinction in the Learning for Life category.

Dr. Janet Mantler

Associate Professor, Psychology Department, Carleton University
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Janet Mantler, PhD. (Windsor), is an Associate Professor of Organizational Psychology and is a founding member of the Centre for Stress, Coping, and Well-being at Carleton University. She teaches courses in Organizational Psychology, Work, Stress, and Health, and Work Motivation. Her areas of research interest include work stress, employee recruitment and retention, and employee engagement.

Ref: D08P0239