This study looked at the experiences and outcomes of about 50 women who were participating in a United States Information Agency’s Au Pair Program. The study focused on how living in the United States for one year as an au pair influences the self-esteem of the participants and what conditions can lead to greater personal growth while on the program. Although a small study, information was gathered which supports the program’s ability to enhance the participants’ self-esteem if the right conditions exist.

Eighty percent (80%) of the women surveyed through questionnaires and interviews felt their self-esteem had increased during their year as an au pair. They saw the changes in areas such as confidence in themselves and what they can accomplish, ability to stand up for themselves and heightened awareness of personal goals. The study explored what experiences led to the increase of self-esteem and found that the relationship the au pairs had with their host families had a strong bearing on the increase in self esteem. Other conditions which influence self esteem such as relationships with others, education, personal control and cultural adjustment are also explored. The study looked upon the Au Pair Program as a cultural exchange program. It also kept in mind that the Au Pair Program has limitations on the amount of extra-curricular experiences available to the au pair. Recommendations for improving programs, training and on-going support systems for the au pairs are included.


Sociology of Culture | Women's Studies