Skip to Content

Support Asian Women At Work

Yesterday kicked off the Equal Pay Day season, the extra days of the year that certain subsets of women have to work to make the same amount of money as non-Hispanic white men. It’s a terrific way to make a point about the persistent gender pay gap in the U.S. This year, the day for all women falls on April 2.

But that number doesn’t tell the full story.

In 2019, AAPI women (Asian American and Pacific Islander) would have had to work two extra months to reach parity with white men. But because the date is typically the earliest individual Equal Pay Day – Latina Equal Pay Day falls on November 20, this year – in a way, it feels like progress.

In fact, it’s misleading.

The population of AAPI workers is highly diverse in terms of, well, everything – ethnicity, immigration experience, language, education, and the barriers they face at work.

According to the Center for Economic Policy and Research, some Asian women – Indian, Taiwanese, Sri Lankan, and Chinese – actually out-earn their white male peers. But the vast majority do not. Lowest on the list you’ll find Thai, Cambodian, Nepalese, Laotian, Hmong, and Burmese-American women, who all hover at or below 60 cents for every white, male dollar.

In no instances do any of these women earn as much as their male AAPI peers.

One thing that would immediately help would be to count AAPI workers correctly in government, workplace, and other research-driven surveys. Most surveys include the AAPI workforce as one aggregated “Asian” lump.

“The ‘model minority’ myth, which views AAPIs as a monolith and assumes that all AAPIs have socioeconomic stability, makes it harder for us to fight the wage gap for the AAPI women who need it the most,” said The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum in a statement. “The ‘model minority’ myth furthers the idea that these communities don’t need additional resources or support. Those in power, who buy into the myth, have responded by gutting, underfunding, or ignoring lifesaving programs that support us.”

And many corporate diversity reports don’t count them at all and simply fold them into the “white” number.

Last year, Buck Gee and Denise Peck, two former Silicon Valley executives, examined government-mandated workplace demographic records for the report, “The Illusion of Asian Success” published by Ascend, a non-profit leadership organization for Pan-Asian professionals.

Because AAPI workers aren’t always identified in corporate diversity reports, it conceals the barriers they’re facing at work.

Here’s the real deal: Across all sectors, Asian American professionals in the U.S. were more likely to be hired as individual contributors, but less likely to be promoted into management roles than any other race. “[C]ompanies have not done an adequate job of identifying and developing Asian American talent,” they say.

The reasons are complex. Because AAPIs are well represented in the workforce and outpace other demographics in terms of income and education, they’re not seen as an underrepresented group. And you can learn more about the ugly and persistent “model minority” myth here.

But it’s all a powerful reminder that you can’t manage – or advocate for – what you don’t measure, right?

We’ll be back on this topic on April 2. I hear we’ll be wearing red.

On Point

A federal judge rules that Trump administration must restore a rule requiring some employers to report salaries by race and genderYesterday, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan issued a decision stating that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) never adequately justified its action when they blocked the Obama-era rule that required employers to add salary information to their reporting requirements. She ordered them to reinstate the reporting guidelines immediately. The EEOC has long required employers with 100 employees or more to report job titles by sex and race; the newer rule added the pay data necessary to identify wage gaps. The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), which sued in 2017 to revive the rule, tells Reuters that Chutkan’s decision affects more than 60,000 companies that collectively employ 63 million workers.Reuters

Major brands struggle to accept President Trump’s occasional praise
Ordinarily a nod or brand shout-out from a seat of government is a good problem to have, but as the president becomes more embattled, his non-paid endorsements are increasingly being met with awkward silence from the companies he praises publicly. Consider the fast food array he offered the North Dakota State football team on Monday – including McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, and Wendy’s. No tweets, no thanks, no social love came in response. “It used to be that brands would love to get an endorsement from the president,” Tim Calkins, a marketing professor from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management tells The Washington Post.“Now, if anything, I think these companies probably squirm a bit.”
Washington Post

Big banks are leaving low income communities
According to a new report, big banks have closed 1,915 more branches in lower-income areas than they opened between 2014 and 2018, with J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America leading the pack. Experts worry that if the data is correct, it will make it harder for people in predominantly non-white and low-income neighborhoods to get access to affordable financial products, like mortgages. Click through for some proposed changes to the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, or CRA, which may make it easier for banks to comply with federal standards for reporting on how they serve low-income communities.
Fortune

Gayle King interviews R. Kelly and it all falls down
To say the singer “broke his silence” on his arrest and the many credible claims of sexual abuse leveled against him would be an insult to over-sharers everywhere. His behavior during this lengthy interview was alternatively bizarre and appalling, with a good measure of straight-to-the-camera menacing. It’s a must-watch even if you’ve made up your mind about Kelly. King was composed, confident and masterful in her questions.
CBS News

 

On Background

A TEDx event at a women’s prison breaks barriers and stereotypes
TEDxPerryvilleCorrectional was held last spring at the all- female Perryville prison complex in Goodyear, Arizona. It was designed as a challenge for the outside world: What do you see when you see a woman in an orange jumpsuit?  Here is a short clip reel to get you started, it includes some important moments, along with remarks from speaker Jim Hooker, the founding CEO of the call center company Televerde. He employs many incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women, and encourages more employers to do the same. “We don’t waste human potential, we don’t disposition based on a checked-box,” he says. The entire event seemed wonderful; there are more videos from the women here, and Hooker’s own story and call for other employers to do better is below.
TEDxPerryville Correctional

An ode to the only black kid in the class
This short video offers the best of two worlds. It starts as a poignant, animated poem written and narrated by poet and historian Clint Smith, created as part of TED-Ed’s There’s A Poem For That series. “It seems you are the manifestation of several lifetimes of toil,” he begins. Then, Smith joins in a Skype call to talk about why he wrote it. In his interview, he says he felt moved to write the poem after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. But he cites the murder of Tamir Rice, as particularly heavy for him. “I was thinking a lot about the sort of conversations that parents have with their children about what it means to navigate a world that’s so often taught to fear them,” he says. “How does one maintain a sense of self? And a sense of belief in oneself?”
There's A Poem For That

The history of black women doctors in comic books
Darnel Degand has written an excellent essay exploring the long history of discrimination black women have experienced when they’ve pursued careers in medicine, and the media’s role in either perpetuating specific stereotypes or ignoring them entirely. Even W.E.B. Du Bois tackled the subject in a 1933 article, “Can a Colored Woman be a Physician?” (Yes, was his answer.) “The inability to see black women as doctors extends into the world of comic book superheroes,” he writes, with one notable exception: Dr. Cecilia Reyes, who appeared in Marvel’s X-Men in 1997. Degand is clearly a comic book fan and X-Men readers will geek out at his analysis of her plot line. Others will understand how much of an outlier she was. As her narrative grew, she became bolder, changed her bobbed hair to long locs, and was not there for any discrimination. “To the contrary, she was portrayed as a confident doctor who was in command of her operating room.”
AAIHS

Quote

So and it happens that you’re sitting in a boardroom with a bunch of guys and it’s a hot company that’s thinking about raising their series A or their series B and usually what we do is we make a Google doc with a list of target investors and someone will say, “Oh I was just with Jimmy Brown last weekend. He’s such a good guy. We should put him on the list.” And then someone will be like, “Ah, I love that dude. He’s such a great guy.” And so then we put him on the list. And then someone’s like, “Oh how about Joe Schmo,” like, “Ah, love that dude.” And then I’ll bring up a woman. And they’ll be like, “Oh does she invest in security?” It’s a totally different set of questions. There’s no, “She’s such a good girl.”
—Aileen Lee