New research suggests that assertive Asian-Americans may be penalized for not adhering to racial stereotypes that peg them more as meek followers.
PROBLEM: Compared to their proportion of the North American population, East Asians are overrepresented in universities and in many professional settings. Still, why are they less likely to be promoted to leadership positions compared to Whites and other racial minorities?
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METHODOLOGY: University of Toronto researchers Jennifer L. Berdahl and Ji-A Min conducted four experiments to look into this so-called "bamboo ceiling." In one trial, they asked survey respondents to read the human-resource record of a business consultant whose last name was either Sutherland or Wong before indicating how much they would like to have the employee as a co-worker. The file also included different supervisor assessments on the employee's assertiveness, agreeableness, and leadership potential.
RESULTS: The dominant East Asian employee was more disliked than the non-dominant East Asian employee, the non-dominant White employee, and the dominant White employee. A separate trial showed that participants held descriptive stereotypes of East Asians as being competent, cold, and non-dominant, while another showed that the most valued expectation of East Asians was that they "stay in their place."