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Bamboo Ceiling Real for Asian Americans

Harvard University
Photo courtesy of Joseph Williams/Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons License 2.0).

Despite high achievement in education, Asian Americans are no more likely to advance to management or professional jobs, found a new study published in Ethnic and Racial Studies.

The Business Standard reports the study of 60,000 households found Asian Americans are less likely to secure top tiered jobs than Whites with similar qualifications. Second generation Chinese graduates are the exception to that and are one and one half times more likely than Whites to be in a management job.

The study focused on the five biggest Asian groups in the United States-
Chinese, Indians, Filipinos, Vietnamese and Koreans. All are more likely to have graduated from college than Whites.

“To be clear, Asians are not under-represented in the managerial and professional occupations—three quarters of second-generation Chinese and Indians report being in a managerial and professional occupation,” said Van Tran, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, said to Phys.org. “However, second-generation Asians are significantly under-represented in senior-level leadership positions, considering how well-credentialed they are, even after accounting for many demographic factors.”

The study’s authors believe that stereotypes play a role in hurting the career opportunities for Asian Americans.

“The same stereotypes that help Asians succeed in the educational domain (i.e. being smart, competent and hardworking) may actually hurt them in the labor market, where Asian Americans are sometimes perceived to be less vocal, less assertive, lacking in social skills and leadership potential,” says Professor Jennifer Lee to Phys.org.

“Asian American professionals are also often excluded from the informal power networks in the workplace, which sometimes matter more than competency when it comes to being promoted into the leadership ranks.”

The lack of role models and mentors may also play a factor.

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