Date Degree Awarded

Spring 5-16-2020

Degree Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling

First Thesis/Dissertation Advisor

Ashley Mills, MS, CGC

Second Thesis/Dissertation Advisor

Emily Quinn, MS, CGC

Third Thesis/Dissertation Advisor

Nicholas Gorman, MPH, Ed.D

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.


While professional organizations expect their employees to adhere to a cohesive image based on the social contract of professionalism, the modern workplace is growing increasingly diverse and freedom of self-expression is challenged by these traditionally defined norms. This study seeks to define these societal expectations and their implications in the context of a rapidly changing professional landscape. Individuals portray their true identities, or “authentic selves,” through their internal beliefs and external appearance, so naturally, these expressions may contradict the expectations for their professional appearance. Previous research has investigated professionalism, authentic selfhood, and the genetic counseling profession on separate levels, but a study encompassing the expression of genetic counselors’ “authentic selves” in the context of a professional setting has yet to be conducted. As genetic counselors are uniquely-trained healthcare providers at the intersection of a quickly growing profession, their perspectives on expressing their true identities may provide insight into the expectations and challenges to professional appearances of a rapidly growing profession. The study utilized an online, anonymous survey distributed to a genetic counselor listserv. Of the 197 total respondents, most felt supported by their employers in expressing their “authentic self” regardless of demography while multilingual respondents reported discrimination from clients. The strongest predictors of feeling supported by employers and job satisfaction was respondents’ comfort wearing culturally or religiously-identifying clothing, suggesting that the freedom to express cultural and religious identities are quite central to many respondents’ sense of true selfhood. These results may be useful to the genetic counseling profession, employers, and in the context of rapidly changing professional environments, in understanding the implications of the “authentic self” and its challenges to traditional defined customs of professionalism.

Rights Information

2020 Brynna T Nguyenton

Included in

Genetics Commons