|dc.description.abstract||This thesis presents a narrative study that explored 14 Malaysian women’s narratives of navigating careers in Malaysia following international study in New Zealand. The women were part of a Twinned In-Service Teacher Education Programme (TISTEP) — a collaboration between the Malaysian Government and New Zealand. These women studied at a New Zealand university from 1995 to 1998, and then returned to Malaysia.
The Malaysian Government invested significant funding in TISTEP in the 1990s, and more than 60 percent of the TISTEP participants were women. However, only a small percentage of these women were appointed to senior positions following their return to Malaysia, despite their teaching experience and international education.
This study employed a narrative approach to explore how a small cohort of TISTEP women graduates made sense of their international studies and subsequent careers. The study was informed by a constructionist-interpretivist epistemology. Data were collected in Malaysia between September 2016 and January 2017 using photo-elicitation and semi-structured interviews. Women’s narratives were analysed using a narrative analytic approach, which attended to both chronology (how women made sense of their past, present and future), and to the themes that emerged within and across their narratives. The Kaleidoscope Career Model was used as an interpretive lens for examining how ‘careers’ emerged in the women's narratives.
In this thesis, women’s narratives are considered chronologically in relation to their early career choices and decisions, international higher education experiences, interpretation of career challenges and enablers, and imagined future career trajectories. The women described parents and educators as key people who shaped their early career choices and decisions. The women’s narratives revealed unique transition experiences in New Zealand and highlighted specific challenges they encountered. Challenges included navigating family, social and academic demands. However, the women spoke positively about their exposure to new ideas and practices, new knowledge systems and new ways of thinking while studying in New Zealand. Reflecting on their return to Malaysia, the women identified career challenges related to home and family and/or workplace demands. At the same time, they also described home, family and workplace support as enabling factors that contributed to career success. The women imagined their future career trajectories in two ways — as involving staying in the system or leaving the system. When reflecting on their career pathways to date and possible future careers, the women imagined ‘career’ and ‘success’ in ways that exceeded the conflation of income and labour, or public recognition and work.
This thesis contributes to the existing literature on women educators’ career development in relation to their international education experiences. Specifically, it addresses a lack of attention to the career trajectories of TISTEP participants. It also addresses a lack of in-depth qualitative studies more broadly exploring the study experiences of non-Western women educators who studied in Western contexts before returning ‘home’ to work. In addition, this thesis addresses a lack of attention to non-Western contexts in literature on women and careers, highlighting how career theories grounded in Western contexts may be limited in their application to other contexts. The data considered in this thesis suggest a need to track the outcomes of international education for those who return ‘home’, and to address factors that may limit women’s access to career opportunities following investment in women’s education. While this thesis highlights the important role of mentors and sponsors in male-dominated work contexts, it also complicates simplistic notions of ‘career’ and ‘success’. In this regard, the thesis highlights the value of international education for its own sake, as a means for promoting personal growth, and new ways of understanding work and the world.||