The career experiences of Asian women teachers : a life-history approach
This thesis explores the career perceptions and experiences of 20 experienced Asian women teachers who had commenced their careers in the last 25 years. By focusing on the accounts / stories of those Asian women teachers, I have attempted to answer the question: What is it like to be a black teacher in British schools? The stories were collected through a series of life-history interviews. Early research on the educational experience of black people in Britain focused more or less exclusively on schooling and 'black underachievement'. All tended to locate the problem and its solutions, within black children, their families and cultures, hence isolating 'race' issues from those of gender and social class. The research also have tended to continue to focus on pupils in schools and on those who are seen to have failed within the system. Instead, this study examines the experiences of Asian women teachers who had largely succeeded in their education. Despite the fact that my interviewees did not comprise a homogeneous group, there was uniformity regarding their perceptions of their career experiences and the way they related to their social environment. The Asian women teachers in this study encountered barriers at all stages in their careers and faced racism, albeit in different forms and guises. These teachers were perceived by white colleagues, parents and pupils as being the inferior 'Other'. In addition, apart from the overt, wounding type of racism, they were subjected to institutionalized racism, which denied them their dignity and made professional advancement very difficult. Many of these teachers often had to find alternative routes to promotion, in multicultural areas of teaching and not in mainstream section. They, sometimes, had to survive in hostile environments. But they all succeeded despite the system, rather than because of it. Success was often made at considerable personal cost, and with great determination and commitment. The study concludes that the experiences of these teachers were racially affected. A number of generalised patterns regarding their career developments and on the articulations of racism in their working lives emerge from these biographies and are discussed in this thesis. However, despite the existence of structural racism in society, the Asian teachers in this study found different ways of managing and responding to it.