This qualitative study provides information on the experiences and perceptions of women who immigrated to the U.S. after the 1979 Iran Islamic Revolution to pursue higher education and professional careers. The study offers new understanding of strategies used to overcome obstacles in completing academic goals in the U.S., pursuing professional careers, and negotiating balance between home-life and career. The study focused on 3 research questions: 1. How did family expectations and Iranian culture influence Iranian women’s academic goals and family-life balance decisions? 2. What experiences (motivations and drives) shaped the life course of high-achieving Iranian women, and how did these experiences impact their professional careers and family-life -balance decisions? 3. What strategies were utilized to support their professional careers while still creating a balance between their work- and home-life obligations? The study was patterned after the Giele (2008) research that used the life story method, which focused on 5 periods in the lives of study participants: childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, current life, and future plans. A semi-structured survey instrument elicited open-ended responses grouped into 4 sections: Identity, drive and motivation, relational style, and adaptive style. The data was provided by 21 women who met the selection criteria of the study and agreed to participate in face-to-face interviews. The findings centered on the participants’ need to find a meaningful balance between work- and home life. Family was a key priority of all of the respondents, an influence that mirrored Iranian society values. The women who made the choice to immigrate felt pressure to succeed in all of their endeavors. Additional findings highlighted the importance of the participants’ self-efficacy and expectations of high achievements instilled in their early years, along with their strong aspirations to excel in professional careers. Having one or more mentors and accommodations made by immediate and extended family members supported the participants in meeting their work-life balance goals. The findings can be useful to other women immigrants to the U.S. who seek work-life balance as they adhere to the traditional female roles of their home countries and adapt to the demands of professional careers in the U.S.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Iranians -- United States -- Ethnic identity; Iranians -- United States -- Attitudes; Women immigrants -- Education (Higher) -- United States; Women immigrants -- Employment -- United States

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Weber, Margaret J.;