Case studies of American women academicians in the Arab countries of the Gulf Region: Cultural adaptation and contribution to globalization of higher education



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Texas Tech University


In the 21st century, more and more American women educators are going overseas to work, often to developing countries (Elfenbein, Lucas, Ewell, Cirksena, & McFadden, 1998). However, few studies have been conducted about working abroad (Osland, 1995), and even fewer studies examine academics (Razzano, 1994), particularly women professionals who have worked overseas (Lyon, 2001). A review of the literature revealed that almost no studies have been conducted that focus on American women faculty and administrators working in higher education in the Arab countries. This study provides information not currently available, and the findings are a valuable resource of information about the nature of life and the professional environment in Arabic countries. The information will help women educators, especially those who are interested in working in the Arab countries.

This research is structured around two themes: (a) cross-cultural adaptation, and (b) globalization. The study attempts to place American women academicians and higher education within the global context by: (a) exploring the cultural adaptation of American women faculty and administrators who worked at a university in the Arab countries of the Gulf region, (b) investigating how these American women academicians have contributed to globalization of higher education abroad and in the United States, and (c) describing experiences of working abroad in order to help women academicians in the U.S. who are considering an opportunity to work at a university in the Arab countries.

This qualitative research used a case study design. Seven women faculty and administrators in this study were personally interviewed by the researcher. The philosophical lens selected for the analysis was phenomenology. During data analysis, events and incidents described by participants that were potentially indicative and supportive of key issues were compared and verified across the data. Key issues were then categorized, conceptualized, and provisionally labeled. Issues that appeared to relate across various categories were grouped and given a conceptual name.

From the discussion of 17 fundamental themes under six categories of findings of this study conclusions were drawn. Implications for the development of theory and practice in the cross-cultural adaptation of people in academia and globalization and internationalization of higher education were provided. Additionally, recommendations for Arab universities and future research were made.



American women academicians, Gulf region, Arab count