• unlimited access with print and download
    $ 37 00
  • read full document, no print or download, expires after 72 hours
    $ 4 99
More info
Unlimited access including download and printing, plus availability for reading and annotating in your in your Udini library.
  • Access to this article in your Udini library for 72 hours from purchase.
  • The article will not be available for download or print.
  • Upgrade to the full version of this document at a reduced price.
  • Your trial access payment is credited when purchasing the full version.
Buy
Continue searching

The impact of the model minority stereotype on Asian American college student leadership involvement

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Melissa Lynn Kwon
Abstract:
Asian Americans are seen as the model minority and not needing any assistance within higher education, given their history of success. Although there is some research that indicates that Asian Americans face a glass ceiling and are underrepresented in leadership positions, little research has been conducted on leadership preparation for Asian Americans, especially in college where many of these skills are typically learned. Examining the experiences of Asian American college student leaders provides valuable knowledge about how these students were able to successfully navigate through their higher education experience and pursue a leadership position. This study utilizes qualitative methodology to help understand how Asian American college students experience, interpret, and perceive their race as playing a role in their leadership participation. A semi-structured interview approach was utilized to interview twenty-four Asian American college students who were current leaders within extracurricular organizations at two highly selective public universities in California. Twelve paid university staff members who worked closely with Asian American college students at the same two universities, including faculty, student support services, and administration, were also interviewed to obtain a more informed and multidimensional perspective. The interviews explored the experiences of Asian American student leaders and the institutional factors that Asian Americans perceived as either enabling or inhibiting the pursuit of leadership opportunities. The results reported are divided into six distinct categories: entry into leadership, levels of support, campus, being Asian American, model minority stereotype, and Asian American leadership. First, the reasons why students became involved in student organizations, what lead them to pursue leadership positions within those student organizations, and benefits that students saw as a result of their participation and leadership in student organizations are discussed. Next, different levels where students might receive support for their leadership in general and their Asian American leadership are investigated. Then, campus dynamics and being Asian American is explored. Further, students described how the model minority stereotype influenced their lives. Lastly, Asian American leadership is explored, including how Asian Americans have not yet had the chance to become leaders and Asian Americans not being encouraged to become leaders.

TABLE OF CONTENTS I.
CHAPTER
1:
INTRODUCTION.....................................................................................1
 A.
Overview......................................................................................................................................................7
 II.
CHAPTER
2:
LITERATURE
REVIEW......................................................................10
 A.
Model
Minority......................................................................................................................................10
 1.
Glass
Ceiling.........................................................................................................................................................15
 B.
Leadership
Involvement....................................................................................................................37
 1.
Impact
of
Student
Leadership
Involvement...........................................................................................39
 2.
Gender
and
Student
Leadership
Involvement......................................................................................41
 3.
Ethnicity
and
Student
Leadership
Involvement...................................................................................46
 C.
Asian
American
Leadership..............................................................................................................51
 D.
Asian
Values
Scale................................................................................................................................52
 E.
Theoretical
Framework......................................................................................................................55
 1.
Critical
Race
Theory.........................................................................................................................................55
 2.
Race
and
Racism................................................................................................................................................56
 III.
CHAPTER
3:
RESEARCH
DESIGN
AND
METHODS............................................63
 A.
Methods.....................................................................................................................................................63
 B.
Research
Questions..............................................................................................................................63
 C.
Site
and
Participants............................................................................................................................64
 1.
Student
Participants.........................................................................................................................................66
 2.
Researcher............................................................................................................................................................72
 3.
Asian
Values
Scale.............................................................................................................................................73
 4.
Staff
Participants................................................................................................................................................76
 D.
Interview
Approach.............................................................................................................................78
 E.
Data
Collection
Procedures..............................................................................................................79
 1.
Student
Interview..............................................................................................................................................80
 2.
Staff
Interview.....................................................................................................................................................81
 F.
Data
Analysis...........................................................................................................................................82
 IV.
CHAPTER
4:
RESULTS..............................................................................................86
 A.
Entry...........................................................................................................................................................92
 1.
Reasons
for
Becoming
Involved
in
Student
Organizations.............................................................93
 a.
Friends
Invited
Participants
to
Join
Organization.........................................................................93
 b.
Involved
Because
of
Ethnicity................................................................................................................95
 c.
Students
Involved
Because
Passionate
About
Issues...................................................................99 
 2.
Reasons
for
Taking
on
Leadership..........................................................................................................101
 a.
Giving
Back
to
their
Organization......................................................................................................102
 b.
Asked
to
Pursue
a
Leadership
Opportunity..................................................................................106
 c.
Involved
in
Leadership
in
High
School............................................................................................109
 d.
Time
to
Try
Leadership..........................................................................................................................113
 e.
Current
Leadership
Not
Effective......................................................................................................114
 3.
Benefits
of
Participating
in
Student
Organizations..........................................................................117
 a.
Networking
and
Resume.......................................................................................................................118
 b.
Personal
Growth.......................................................................................................................................122
 c.
Making
a
Difference
and
Creating
Change......................................................................................125
 d.
Identity
Formation...................................................................................................................................127
 4.
Personal
Growth
was
a
Benefit
of
Leadership
..................................................................................129


xii

B.
Levels
of
Support...............................................................................................................................133
 1.
Leadership
Involvement
is
Okay
if
Academics
and
Grades
are
Okay......................................134
 2.
Parents
Proud
of
Students
in
Leadership
Positions........................................................................137
 3.
Being
Asian
American
Impacts
Mentoring
Relationship...............................................................141
 a.
Staff
Agrees
Being
Asian
American
Impacts
Relationship
with
Mentor...........................143 
 4.
Faculty
Supportive
of
Leadership...........................................................................................................145
 5.
Asian
American
Faculty
Support
Asian
American
Student
Leadership..................................149
 a.
Staff
Says
Faculty
Support
Asian
American
Leadership
Development..............................151
 6.
Student
Support
Services
Support
Leadership..................................................................................153
 a.
Staff
Believes
Student
Services
Support
Leadership
Development....................................158
 7.
Administration
Barriers
to
Leadership.................................................................................................160
 a.
Staff
Perceive
Administration
Presents
Barriers
to
Student
Leadership
Development....
 ...............................................................................................................................................................................161
 8.
Administration
Barriers
for
Asian
American
Leaders....................................................................162
 9.
Campus
Supportive
of
Leadership
Development.............................................................................164
 10.
Campus
Supportive
of
Asian
American
Student
Leadership
Development.......................170
 a.
Staff
Believes
that
Campus
is
Supportive
of
Asian
American
Leadership

 Development...................................................................................................................................................174
 11.
Asian
American
Communities
Support
and
Not
Support
Asian
American
Student

 Leadership..............................................................................................................................................................178
 12.
Society
Supports
Asian
American
Leaders.......................................................................................181
 13.
Society
Not
Support
Asian
American
Leadership..........................................................................182
 C.
Campus...................................................................................................................................................186
 1.
University
A
Campus
Climate....................................................................................................................187
 2.
University
B
Campus
Climate....................................................................................................................192
 3.
Asian
Americans
are
Only
Leaders
of
Asian
American
Organizations....................................195
 4.
Equity
and
Awareness
is
a
Goal
as
a
Leader
for
College
Community......................................198
 D.
Being
Asian
American......................................................................................................................201
 1.
Being
Asian
American
Affects
Students’
Lives...................................................................................201
 2.
Struggle
Asian
Versus
American..............................................................................................................206
 3.
Being
Asian
American
Influences
Leadership
Involvement
because
Need
to
Create
 Community.............................................................................................................................................................211
 E.
Model
Minority
Stereotype............................................................................................................215
 1.
Being
Asian
American
Means
Dealing
with
Model
Minority
Stereotype................................215
 a.
Staff
Believe
Being
Asian
American
Means
Dealing
with
Model
Minority
Stereotype.......
 ............................................................................................................................................................... 218
 2.
The
Model
Minority
Stereotype
Inspires
Students
to
Fight
the
Stereotype.........................221
 3.
Model
Minority
Stereotype
Used
to
Racialize,
Divide
and
Conquer.........................................227
 F.
Asian
American
Leadership...........................................................................................................231
 1.
Goals
to
Make
Change
and
to
Make
a
Difference..............................................................................231
 2.
Leadership
for
Asian
American
Organizations
is
Insignificant..................................................233
 3.
Asian
Americans
Face
Barrier
of
Model
Minority
Stereotype
in
Leadership

 Development.........................................................................................................................................................234
 4.
Staff
Perceived
Barriers
Asian
American
Leaders
Face
in
Leadership
Development......239
 5.
Careers
Wanted
by
Asian
Americans.....................................................................................................240
 a.
Staff
Agree
Careers
Wanted
by
Asian
Americans.......................................................................242
 6.
Asian
Americans
Have
Not
Had
the
Chance
to
Become
Leaders...............................................244
 a.
Model
Minority
Stereotype...................................................................................................................244 
 b.
“Good
Old
Boys”
Network.....................................................................................................................246
 c.
Staff
Believes
There
Is
a
Lack
of
Asian
American
Leaders......................................................247
 7.
Asian
Americans
are
Not
Encouraged
to
Become
Leaders..........................................................249


xiii

V.
CHAPTER
5:
DISCUSSION
AND
CONCLUSION..................................................254
 A.
Positive
and
Supportive
Personal
Experiences....................................................................254
 1.
Student
Involvement
and
Student
Leadership..................................................................................254
 2.
Support
for
Student
Leadership...............................................................................................................260
 3.
Asian
American
Experience.......................................................................................................................262
 B.
Glass
Ceiling
and
Model
Minority
Stereotype
Contribute
to
Lack
of
Asian
American
 Leaders........................................................................................................................................................263
 1.
Political
Implications
and
the
Fight
Against
the
Model
Minority
Stereotype......................264
 2.
Glass
Ceiling
and
Representation............................................................................................................266
 3.
Model
Minority
Stereotype
and
Asian
American
Leadership
Not
Supported
 by
Community
and
Society..............................................................................................................................269
 C.
Conclusion.............................................................................................................................................278
 D.
Contributions
to
Critical
Race
Theory......................................................................................279
 E.
Strengths
and
Limitations
of
this
Study...................................................................................283
 F.
Implications
for
Higher
Education
Practitioners.................................................................284
 G.
Future
Research.................................................................................................................................288
 REFERENCES..................................................................................................................292
 APPENDICES...................................................................................................................299


xiv

LIST OF TABLES

Table
1.
Demographics
of
College
Presidents
in
2006
and
1986....................33
 Table
2.
Demographics
of
Senior
Administrators
in
2006................................34
 Table
3.
University
A
Racial
Dynamics....................................................................65
 Table
4.
University
B
Racial
Dynamics....................................................................65
 Table
5.
Number
of
Potential
Student
Subjects
Based
on
Demographic
 Group
by
Campus............................................................................................................68
 Table
6.
Student
Participants
Demographics........................................................70
 Table
7.
Scores
on
Asian
Values
Scale
by
Type
of
Student
Organization......75
 Table
8.
Scores
on
Asian
Values
Scale
by
University...........................................76
 Table
9.
Staff
Participants
Demographics...............................................................77


1

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION There are three major functions of American higher education: teaching, research, and public service. The goal of higher education in performing these functions is to achieve societal advancement (Bowen, 1996). Alexander Astin in 1985 advocated that higher education is based on a talent development model, where institutions of higher education develop the talents of its students to maximize their potential and increase their human capital. The societal investment in educating individuals through higher education is broader than individual gains and has societal level implications where there is an expected return. One such societal return is to prepare people to become the future leaders. Much research has been conducted on college student leadership development, however, the vast majority of studies have been conducted on White students (e.g. Logue, Hutchens, and Hector, 2005; Cooper et al., 1994). Few studies have been conducted on students of color and even fewer have been conducted on Asian American students (e.g. Arminio et al., 2000; Kezar & Moriarty, 1990). It is important to study the experiences of students of color because they are treated differently at a societal, institutional, and individual level and this difference in treatment can drastically change their college experience. A review of the literature on Asian Americans indicates that Asian Americans are seen by society as the model minority and therefore they do not need any assistance within institutions of higher education, since they are seen as successful. Consequently, student services, such as leadership development, which are inherently aimed towards mainstream students, do

2

not prepare Asian American students for leadership positions. Since Asian Americans are highly represented in higher education, it is important to understand how their differential experience affects their educational experience. I am using critical race theory as the lens through which I will investigate Asian American college student leadership. Critical race theory (CRT) in the field of education is a framework with the purpose of identifying, analyzing, and transforming the aspects of education that subordinate students of color, limit their access to knowledge, and perpetuate inequality (Ladson-Billings, 1995; Parker, 1998; Solorzano & Yosso, 2002; Yosso, 2002). Critical race theory is based on the premise that race has been so normalized in American society that people see race as normal and natural. Asian Americans are not typically or frequently cited in discussions about critical race theory. Few studies have used critical race theory as a framework for educational research on Asian Americans (e.g. Teranishi, 2002). However, CRT is an appropriate framework for researching Asian Americans in higher education, because Asian Americans are racialized within American society and are used politically in race relations (Lee, 1996; Wu, 2002; Yu, 2002). Asian Americans are interesting to study using CRT as a theoretical framework because unlike African Americans and Latinos, who are stereotyped negatively within race relations, Asian Americans are stereotyped positively (Chun, 1995). Thus, many Asian Americans easily embrace the positive stereotype and perpetuate it. Additionally, if Asian Americans choose to

3

challenge this stereotype, they are considered deviants from the model minority stereotype and they are faced with dissonance for doing so. Within higher education, institutional racism against Asian Americans, especially at predominantly White institutions, is of importance in understanding how Asian Americans interact with higher education. “An understanding of the educational experiences of the Asian American population requires a framework that acknowledges the unique racialized status of Asian Americans, as well as their social, political, and economic positions in society” (Teranishi, 2002, p. 146). Asian Americans have received fewer benefits from the same amount of education and experience than their White peers (Lee, 2002; Waldinger, Bozorgmehr, Lim & Finkel, 1998). This disparity in wages and attainment of managerial positions was termed the glass ceiling, which refers to an invisible, impenetrable barrier that prevents qualified individuals from advancement in career trajectories to management positions. Research suggested that Asian Americans as a group faced a glass ceiling as evidenced by their consistent underrepresentation in management and leadership positions (Woo, 2000; Wu, 1997). Asian Americans’ pay was lower, when all other factors are equal, and they were half as likely to obtain managerial positions (Woo, 2000; Wu, 1997; Young & Takeuchi, 1998). Asian American men made 10-17 percent less than White men and Asian American women made up to 40 percent less than their White counterparts with the same qualifications (Wu, 2002). When other factors were controlled for, inequities still existed in wages, pointing to the fact that racial discrimination must be

4

the explanation (Min, 2006; Wu, 2002). Consequently, Asians in America had to work harder for comparable economic compensation and promotion opportunities (Young & Takeuchi, 1998). Even in higher education, where Asian American undergraduate students are highly represented, Asian Americans are underrepresented in faculty and administrative leadership positions. Faculty members had a harder time attaining tenure and administrators had a hard time climbing the leadership ladder (Lee, 2002; Suzuki, 1995; Woo, 2002). Asian Americans were nearly invisible in high-level administration positions in institutions of higher education (Suzuki, 1995; Woo, 2000). At four-year institutions, Asian Americans held less than one percent of executive positions in 1996 (Suzuki, 1995; Suzuki, 2002; Woo, 2000). According to the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2001, Asian Americans held a mere 2,736 administrative roles out of 144,529, which is less than .1 percent. Suzuki found in 1995 that in over 2000 institutions of higher education, only four CEOs were Asian American and five were chief academic officers. By 2000, only 20 out of 2939 College and University Chief Executive Officer positions were held by Asian Americans, only two of which were female (Woo, 2000). Saigo (2008) cited that in fall 2007, 18.3% of the California State University’s undergraduates were Asian American and 13.8% of the faculty was Asian American. However, of the system’s 23 campuses, there were zero presidents, zero academic vice presidents, and three non-academic vice presidents (Saigo, 2008). Further, a report conducted by the American Council on Education (2008) cited that Asian Americans held .4 percent of

5

the college president positions in 1986. This percentage of college presidents increased by only .5 percent to a total of .9 percent in twenty years by 2006. According to the Committee of 100 (2009), although Asian Americans consist of 6.4 percent of college students and 6.2 percent of faculty in the US, they consist of only 2.4 percent of presidents, provosts, or chancellors. In 2009, there are only 33 Asian American college presidents out of 3,200, a mere 1 percent (Committee of 100, 2009). Consequently, students may not have adequate role models in faculty and administrative leadership positions and are being discouraged from pursuing leadership opportunities, which may contribute to the glass ceiling effect in the work force. Early in the pipeline, Asian Americans are not being encouraged to pursue leadership opportunities (Woo, 2000). Bob Suzuki in 2002 suggested that Asian American college students were underdeveloped in their leadership skills, which negatively affected their pursuing professional leadership positions (Suzuki, 2002). Thus, more research needs to be conducted to gain a better understanding of how the model minority stereotype influences how Asian Americans perceive their opportunities to pursue leadership opportunities. A critical time when leadership skills are fostered and acquired is during college (Astin & Astin, 2000; Smart, Ethington, Riggs & Thompson, 2002; Thompson, 2006). Therefore, studying how Asian Americans decide to become leaders within institutions of higher education will help researchers understand the institutional barriers and how students deal with

6

and overcome barriers to leadership. With this understanding, hopefully the number of Asian American leaders will increase. The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of how the model minority stereotype influences Asian American college students’ pursuance of leadership opportunities. Critical race theory was used to understand how Asian Americans fit into race relations and how racial stereotypes influenced how Asian Americans are treated. The research questions that guided this research are the following: • How do Asian American college student leaders view leadership involvement? • How do Asian American college student leaders perceive their leadership support on their campus? Societal stereotypes? Faculty? Student support services? Administration? • How has the model minority stereotype influenced Asian American college students’ pursuit of leadership positions? • What barriers do Asian American college student leaders perceive influence their pursuit of leadership positions? I utilized qualitative methodology to help me gain an understanding of how Asian American college students experience, interpret, and perceive their race as playing a role in their leadership participation. I used a semi-structured interview approach to interview twenty-four Asian American college students who were current leaders within extracurricular organizations at two highly selective universities in

7

California. I also interviewed twelve paid university staff members who worked closely with Asian American college students at the same two universities, including faculty, student support services staff, and administrators, to obtain a more informed and multidimensional perspective. The interviews explored the experiences of Asian American student leaders and the institutional factors that Asian Americans perceived as either enabling or inhibiting the pursuit of leadership opportunities. Examining the experiences of Asian American college students who have been leaders provides valuable knowledge about how these students were able to successfully navigate through their higher education experience and pursue a leadership position. This study also contributes to expanding the Critical Race Theory literature by applying CRT to Asian Americans, which has only been done sparsely in the existing literature. Overview This dissertation consists of five chapters. Chapter 1 began with an introduction to the research problem. It started with an overview of college student leadership involvement and proceeded to discuss how Asian Americans are seen as the model minority and encountered a glass ceiling. The theoretical framework and research questions were also briefly introduced in this chapter. Chapter 2 furthers the discussion in the previous chapter of college student leadership involvement, model minority stereotype, and glass ceiling. This chapter also explores the theoretical perspectives that this dissertation is based on. Chapter 3 describes the research methods and design of this study. It includes the research questions, site description,

8

student and staff participant descriptions, interview approach, data collection procedures, and data analysis procedures. Chapter 4 consists of the results of the study and the themes that were uncovered through the data analysis. The first section talks about how students gained entry into leadership. It explains reasons why students pursued extracurricular activities, reasons for their pursuit leadership positions, benefits of extracurricular activities, and benefits of leadership participation. It goes on to discuss the different levels of support that parents, mentors, faculty, student support services, administration, campus, Asian American community, and society provided for leadership in general and Asian American leadership involvement in particular. The difference between campus racial climates at the two universities is then compared. The influences upon Asian American student leaders at a societal level and campus community level are also investigated. Further, it explores how being Asian American affects their lives and their struggle between being Asian and being American. It discusses how the model minority stereotype affected students’ lives, how being Asian American influenced their leadership involvement, and the political implications of the stereotype. Lastly, barriers that Asian Americans faced in pursuing leadership opportunities are discussed, including prestige of careers, model minority stereotype, and the “good old boys” network. Finally, Chapter 5 presents a discussion of how the findings fit into the existing research and is organized into two sections. The first section talks about the positive and supportive personal experiences that students had through their leadership involvement and the second section discusses how the glass ceiling and the model

9

minority stereotype contribute to lack of Asian American leaders. Then, this chapter elucidates the contributions that this study has made to critical race theory. It also presents strengths and weaknesses of the study, implications for higher education practitioners, and suggestions for future research.

10

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW There are two main bodies of literature that are relevant to this study. The first area focuses on the model minority myth and situates Asian Americans within race relations in the US and gives an understanding of how Asian Americans are racialized. Within the model minority myth, a sub-section focuses on the glass ceiling that Asian Americans encounter and the implications for their leadership involvement. The second area discusses the importance of leadership experiences for college students and how these experiences can influence their leadership involvement in the future. This section goes on to discuss the specific needs of students of color in terms of leadership development in higher education institutions. Model Minority The model minority myth is ingrained in society and is an integral part of race relations in the United States (Cheng & Yang, 2000; Osajima, 2000; Yu, 2006). It shows Asian Americans as loyal, hard working, submissive, and diligent, and is used by the mainstream to instill the idea that ambition and hard work are all that is needed to achieve the American dream. The model minority image was created during the Civil Rights Movement by Whites to wedge Asian Americans between themselves and other minorities so other minorities would blame Asian Americans for their hardships, instead of Whites (Cheng & Yang, 2000; Yu, 2006). The myth has been used politically to divide and conquer the races by pitting different races against each other and creating a racial hierarchy. “As a hegemonic device, the model minority stereotype maintains the dominance of Whites in the racial hierarchy by diverting

11

attention away from racial inequality and by setting standards for how minorities should behave” (Lee, 1996, p. 6). The majority created a hierarchical race relations system placing Asian Americans in the middle and African Americans and Latinos at the bottom (Min, 1996; Suzuki, 2002; Wu, 2002; Yu, 2002). The implication in this image of Asian Americans is that minorities should emulate Asian Americans and take action, rather than speaking out and complaining about their minority status. Additionally, Asian Americans are perceived as being quiet and docile, refraining from sticking out, and not taking on leadership positions. The model minority myth is used to delegitimize claims that there is inequality and prove that social mobility is achievable. The model minority myth showing Asian Americans as achieving high socioeconomic status based on their hard work, focus on education, and family ties was used as a direct critique to silence racial injustices brought up by African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s (Min, 2006; Osajima, 2000). For example, in 1966, William Peterson praised Japanese Americans for their success in assimilating into the American culture and out-whiting Whites in his article entitled “Success story, Japanese-American style” published in the New York Times Magazine (Peterson, 1966). U.S. News and World Report in 1966 published an article entitled “Success story of one minority group in U.S.,” which directly contrasted spending government money on social services for African Americans with Chinese Americans becoming successful through their hard work (U.S. News and World Report, 1966). Thus, the myth was used as a political ploy for the majority to ignore racial inequalities. “The portrayal of Asian Americans

12

as hard working, successful group was usually accompanied by invidious comparisons to Blacks, as if to suggest that the industrious docility Asian American style was the solution to racial discrimination” (Chun, 1995, p. 95). The model minority myth assumes that all Asian Americans are successful, although there are many disadvantaged Asian Americans who are invisible. There are many poor Asian Americans who live in the inner city and the poverty rate for Asian Americans is higher than the national average (Fong, 2002; Woo, 2000; Yu, 2006). By lumping together all of these various types of Asian Americans, the mainstream is telling them that their differences are insignificant. The discourse on Asian Americans and their experiences does not deal with the anguish that they go through to sustain their image as the model minority. Asian Americans are socialized not to complain, disagree, or prove the stereotype incorrect (Chun, 1995). Asian Americans do face discrimination and prejudice, but they do not speak out about it, and since they are seen as the model minority, it is ignored (Young & Takeuchi, 1998). The model minority stereotype was created to make others envy and try to emulate Asians, which makes the status of being Asian American a commodity and cultural capital. As a consequence, Asian Americans have been facing increased violence against them by other minorities and by Whites (Cheng & Yang, 2000; Osajima, 2000; Young & Takeuchi, 1998). In fact, beginning in the 1980s, it was found that highly selective institutions of higher education were discriminating against Asian Americans in their admissions policies by denying admission to students who had stronger academic qualifications, including high

13

school grades and standardized test scores, than their White counterparts (Nakanishi, 2000; Wang, 1988; Young & Takeuchi, 1998). Thus, the so-called idea of meritocracy that was created and enforced through the model minority stereotype was being undermined for the very racial group that was used to foster it. Further, it is the racism that is used against Asian Americans that prevents them from being able to obtain much power in society. “Cultural conflict aggravates already strained economic relations between Asians and other disadvantaged minorities. As victims of racism in the first sense, Asians are a progressive force for change. But Asian racism itself threatens to push the community toward conservatism” (Cheng & Yang, 2000, p. 461). The image of Asian Americans consists of success in math, science and engineering (Cheng & Yang, 2000; Chun, 1995). It is implied within society that all Asian Americans are successful in these fields. Asian Americans are underrepresented in occupations in which language skills and personal contact are of importance (Suzuki, 2002). They are over represented in technical fields where social skills and linguistic skills are not of primary importance (Fong, 2002; Yu, 2006). This stereotype of Asian Americans in only certain fields limits the range of occupations that Asian Americans attempt to enter (Cheng & Yang, 2000). The model minority myth stereotype was created by Whites to maintain power within American society (Cheng & Yang, 2000; Yu, 2006). Asian Americans are used as a political tool where it appears that they are successful, but in reality, they still remain subordinated and powerless in society. “Whites realize the importance of

14

control: Power flows not only from the control of economic production and governmental function but also, and even more importantly, from the control of the super structure of society, namely its culture, or value system” (Yu, 2006, p. 329). Being docile, quiet, not speaking out, and not taking on leadership roles all help create circumstances where Whites are able to maintain their power subliminally without any struggle. The 1992 the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights report found that the model minority myth was actually harming Asian Americans in four main ways. It diverts attention away from the social and economic problems that exist within the Asian American community, ignores racial discrimination that Asian Americas face, places additional pressure on Asian Americans to succeed, and fuels resentment between racial groups (Fong, 2002; Wu, 2002). As a result, Asian Americans are ignored and are not provided services or assistance since they are seen as problem free. Further, Sapna Cheryan and Galen Bodenhausen (2000) found that when Asian American students were primed to focus on their ethnic identity, they had difficulty concentrating and had impaired performance because of their fear of failing to confirm the positive stereotype of Asian Americans as the model minority. There are many repercussions of the model minority stereotype that Asian Americans face. Unfortunately, very little research has been conducted on Asian Americans and the impact of the stereotype. Another repercussion is the glass ceiling, which I will examine next.

Full document contains 334 pages
Abstract: Asian Americans are seen as the model minority and not needing any assistance within higher education, given their history of success. Although there is some research that indicates that Asian Americans face a glass ceiling and are underrepresented in leadership positions, little research has been conducted on leadership preparation for Asian Americans, especially in college where many of these skills are typically learned. Examining the experiences of Asian American college student leaders provides valuable knowledge about how these students were able to successfully navigate through their higher education experience and pursue a leadership position. This study utilizes qualitative methodology to help understand how Asian American college students experience, interpret, and perceive their race as playing a role in their leadership participation. A semi-structured interview approach was utilized to interview twenty-four Asian American college students who were current leaders within extracurricular organizations at two highly selective public universities in California. Twelve paid university staff members who worked closely with Asian American college students at the same two universities, including faculty, student support services, and administration, were also interviewed to obtain a more informed and multidimensional perspective. The interviews explored the experiences of Asian American student leaders and the institutional factors that Asian Americans perceived as either enabling or inhibiting the pursuit of leadership opportunities. The results reported are divided into six distinct categories: entry into leadership, levels of support, campus, being Asian American, model minority stereotype, and Asian American leadership. First, the reasons why students became involved in student organizations, what lead them to pursue leadership positions within those student organizations, and benefits that students saw as a result of their participation and leadership in student organizations are discussed. Next, different levels where students might receive support for their leadership in general and their Asian American leadership are investigated. Then, campus dynamics and being Asian American is explored. Further, students described how the model minority stereotype influenced their lives. Lastly, Asian American leadership is explored, including how Asian Americans have not yet had the chance to become leaders and Asian Americans not being encouraged to become leaders.