New NAAS Data: Asian Americans Less Likely than Whites to be Promoted

October 26, 2017

L-R: Jennifer Lee and Karthick Ramakrishnan

RSF authors Jennifer Lee (Columbia University) and Karthick Ramakrishnan (University of California, Riverside) have published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times discussing some of their ongoing research from the 2016 National Asian American Survey (NAAS), a project supported by the Russell Sage Foundation. In their piece, Lee and Ramakrishnan debunk the pervasive myth that Asian Americans have achieved workplace parity with whites in industries like tech, where Asian Americans make up a large part of the workforce. While a significant number of Asian Americans may work in Silicon Valley, the authors write, they are nevertheless "the group least likely to be promoted into managerial and executive ranks."

In the 2016 NAAS, Lee and Ramakrishnan interviewed a sample of Asian Americans about their experiences with leadership in the workplace. They found that only 51% of Asian American employees indicated that they had led a meeting at work, compared with 68% of white employees. "The situation was worse among women, with Asian American women 25 percentage points less likely to chair a meeting when compared with white women," the authors note.

The NAAS is a scientific and nonpartisan effort to poll the opinions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, conducted by RSF grantees Lee, Ramakrishnan, Taeku Lee (University of California, Berkeley), and Janelle Wong (University of Maryland). The survey explores Asian Americans' political preferences, civic engagement, and labor force participation, among other topics.

Karthick Ramkrishnan, Taeku Lee, and Janelle Wong are co-authors of the RSF book Asian American Political Participation (2011). Jennifer Lee is co-author of the RSF books The Asian American Achievement Paradox (2015) and The Diversity Paradox (2012). Both Ramakrishnan and Jennifer Lee were Visiting Scholars at the foundation during the academic year of 2011-2012.

Read Lee and Ramakrishnan's full Los Angeles Times op-ed.


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


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