Date of Award

May 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Cultural Foundations of Education


Dalia Rodriguez


Chinese studies, classroom silence, good woman, international students, leftover woman, qualitative study

Subject Categories



Informed by intersectionality (Collins, 1995, 2000; Crenshaw, 1991, 2000; hooks, 1984, 1989, 2000; McCall, 2005; Mohanty, 1988, 2003; Zerai, 2000) and a postpositivist realist account of identity (Mohanty, 2000; Moya, 2000), this qualitative project explored twenty Chinese female students’ experiences with gender and nationality while attending graduate schools in four universities on the East Coast of the US. Challenging the academic discourse that reduced the vast range of experiences to linguistic and cultural accumulation (Kasper, 1997; Klomega, 2006; Lewthwaite, 1997; Misra & Castillo, 2004), this study focused specifically on Chinese women’s narratives of negotiating classroom silence, the leftover woman discourse, and the good Chinese woman discourse. For women growing up in China, a country long dominated by patriarchal norms that still define women through motherhood and femininity, attending graduate school in the US not only meant educational achievement, but also offered a chance to advance their careers, and recraft gender roles and boundaries. This study showed that as socially situated complex subjects, Chinese women articulated a wide range of complexities involved in living their lives under different cultural contexts, as well as the multiple ways of living and learning among the complexities. The study has implications for researchers, policy-makers, and educators in the fields of higher education, international education, as well as gender studies.


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