Asian American Press


2 thoughts on “Asian American Press

  1. Asian Americans in Executive Positions: Still a Diamond Ceiling?

    “Diamond Ceiling” for Asian Americans was the title of a short article I wrote in 2000
    (Science, 290(5499): 2075. December 15). Not much seems to have changed since. There are numerous studies making a strong case for increased diversity and gender equality in the workplace. Many pundits who study and track these issues often relate the lack of diversity and gender equality to educational attainments, study majors, and/or even the college attended. All those elements are important determinants of where you go to work. Asian Americans are an interesting breed-
    they major in STEM in droves, attend the best colleges one can name, and many of them earn graduate degrees. That gets them in Silicon Valley as professionals but they hit a ceiling when it comes to executive positions.

    A comprehensive study (1) found some very interesting facts based on their data analysis of nearly 140,000 employees at five major tech giants: Google, HP, LinkedIn, Intel, and Yahoo. While we focus only on Asian Americans, it must underscored that the report includes other minorities (Hispanics, African Americans and others) who, generally, have even lower representation than Asians in the
    workforce of these companies. Here are some of the facts:

    Racial bias: Among three different categories of the corporate ladders- professionals, managers and executives, number of whites increased from 62.2% to 72.7% and 80.3%, respectively in those three
    categories. On the other hand, those numbers decreased from 27.2% to 18.8% and 13.9% for Asians in the same categories. To put it differently, there were about 150% more white male and female executives in comparison to Asians.

    Gender bias: About 42% more white men over white women were promoted to the executive level while white men had a whopping 260% lead over Asian women. Surprise?

    The report cites an Executive Parity Index (EPI) which clearly shows that white men were well over represented (EPI of 1.4); white women were right on the dot with EPI of about 1 but then the index goes downhill. Asian men and women have an EPI of 0.56 and 0.39, respectively. One interesting finding in the report is that the “Asian effect” plays a more dominant role in the ceiling than even the “gender effect.” According to the report, the Asian effect was measured to be 154% for both men and women while the gender effect was only 42% both for whites and Asians. The report identifies three major Asian Leadership Gaps: awareness and expectations; role models, and behavior which lead to the fewer Asians rising to the top of the ladder.

    A companion article in L.A. Times (2) discusses the efforts being made by these companies. For example, Google cited a budget of $150 million for its diversity initiative; LinkedIn claimed to have invested in programs resulting in an increase in Asians in leadership positions, and Intel created a
    $300-million diversity in technology fund. Another study at UC Hastings by JoanC. Williams goes on to say, “All women walk this tightrope,” however, “Asian women experience sharply higher levels of pressure to behave in feminine ways, and they experience higher levels of pushback if they don’t.” Everyone should ponder why this in 2015?

    Diversity and gender gap must be addressed early?

    Bridging the gender gap and increased diversity must begin as early as high school but certainly when students get admitted to the college. There are indications that we have made incremental progress in having more women and diverse students (certainly more Asians than other minorities) graduating in STEM disciplines. However, gender gap still exists in B-schools. As I write this article with the Mother’s
    day approaching (May 10), I cannot refrain from citing an article in today’s Wall Street Journal (3). According to GMAT, the applicant pool of women in two-year, full-time MBA has remained between 34% and 39% in the last seven years. You can well imagine a possible consequence- a conceivable justification for not finding qualified women for, and thus fewer women in, executive positions a decade from now. It was disappointing that even the elite Harvard Business School struggled at times to make women feel valued, according to its Asian Indian Dean Nitin Nohria. How are our Law schools doing? Another recent article (4) clearly discusses a bleak picture at the elite law schools. Dean Morant (George Washington University) articulates the need for increased diversity which, in my view, applies to admission in all disciplines at all institutions, “Any educational milieu has to prepare students for [a global] world,and you cannot do that if the population is homogenous.”

    Going Forward:

    One can only hope that the tech companies and the corporations as a whole will put in effective and deliberate measures to bridge the gender gap and focus on increasing the racial diversity in the workplace. In fact, the gender and racial preferences need to be eliminated from the top including the executives in the White House. I commend President Obama to increase the presence of Asians in
    various high level appointments during his tenure than any time before- a step in the right direction- but still not enough.

    My comments on diamond ceiling in 2000 were directed at the higher education executives. Am I
    surprised that the major gaps still remain fifteen years later not only in higher education but almost in all sectors? Not really because I have observed the “discriminatory behavior” on the part of the powers to be in my working career of over 35 years in higher education. The racial and gender bias continues to date which I observed first hand under my watch. All I can say it is practiced with great savviness, gently and covertly to safeguard against an ineffective federal law called affirmative action. Let us call on the highest level executives in the government, corporations, and all other sectors to set “diamond-
    like” expectations and create a culture for no tolerance for the gender inequality and racial bias in this era of globalization. All men and women deserve to be given equal opportunity to realize their full potential with “no ceiling”, be it air (easily penetrable), glass (easily breakable) or diamond (harder to break).

    (Hidden in Plain Sight: Asian American Leaders in Silicon Valley)

    story.html (Tech’s glass ceiling nearly four times harder for Asian Americans to crack)

    (B-Schools Are Fighting Over Top Women)

    (4) (For Top Law Schools, Diversity not in Evidence)

    Scholarly articles:
    (Racial Glass Ceilings, Gendered Responses: Taiwanese American Professionals’ Experiences of Otherness);jsessionid=2CE437FA9896B0BF4CFEC289193CA7CE.f03t03?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false
    (Perceived workplace racial discrimination and its correlates: A meta-analysis)

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