Experiences of Kurdish/Middle Eastern Refugee Women Seeking Employment

Date of Conferral





Human Services


Lillian Chenoweth


Refugee resettlement agencies provide services to help new refugees develop skills that will allow them to achieve self-sufficiency. Prior research has indicated that leveraging skills and talents is not an easy process for refugee women, who face barriers and difficulties in the transition to a new culture. Researchers have found that financial stability, English comprehension skills, and ability to adopt a new work system are important factors that affect this process. The experiences of Kurdish refugee women with finding employment in the United States have not been explored in past research. Using empowerment theory, this qualitative case study describes the experiences of Kurdish/Middle Eastern refugee women with employment in the Southwestern United States. Data were collected through face-to-face interviews with 8 Kurdish refugee women who lived in Southwest, used resettlement services; and were employed at the time of the study. Participants were voluntarily recruited with the help of 2 resettlement agencies in North Texas. An inductive analysis method was used to analyze the interview data. Employment services are available to all refugee women as part of the services provided by resettlement agencies; however, only those who are ready to enter the workforce can benefit from these services. Participants described their experience of being refugee women seeking employment as difficult and scary. However, participants also expressed that this experience had allowed them to become women with voices, rights, options, and opportunities. The outcomes of this study support the development of culturally relevant programs to serve and empower refugee women to receive quality employment services and bring attention to employment services for refugee women.

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