N E IT H E R B L A C K N O R W H I T E : A N E W A ME R IC A N D IL E M MA THE "GLASS CEILING" PROBLEM FOR ASIAN AMERICANS SAMUEL WONG, PH.D. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE OFFICE OF CIVIL RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT N E IT H E R B L A C K N O R W H I T E : A N E W A ME R IC A N D IL E M MA THE "GLASS CEILING" PROBLEM FOR ASIAN AMERICANS SAMUEL WONG, PH.D. Samuel Wong, a former president of the Asian Pacific American Network in Agriculture (APANA), was the Acting Assistant Administrator for Administration of the Office of International Cooperation and Development (OICD) until its recent merger with the Foreign Agricultural Service in USDA. Before Civil Service, Dr. Wong was an Associate General Secretary of the Commission on Religion and Race, the United Methodist Church. He has written several papers on race relations for publications such as Engage/Social Action, the United Methodist Reporter, the New World Outlook, and the Interpreter. His most recent publication is the paper Communication and Career Advancement: the Asian Pacific Experience in USDA. He holds a Ph.D. degree from Northwestern University. ii TABLE OF CONTENTS FOREWORD ......................................................................... v ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .........................................................vii EXECUTIVE SUMMARY .............................................................................................. ix THE GLASS CEILING PHENOMENON ............................... 1 THE JOB SITUATION .......................................................... 15 BARRIERS TO CAREER ADVANCEMENT .............................................................................................. 23 Lack of communication skills ................................................ 23 Too research-oriented .......................................................... 25 Key Barriers .......................................................................... 26 Prejudice ............................................................................... 27 Lack of career planning ........................................................ 29 Hostile environment .............................................................. 29 Lack of organizational savvy................................................. 32 Other barriers ........................................................................ 34 Lack of a mentor ................................................................... 35 THE GENDER FACTOR .............................................................................................. 37 HOW TO OVERCOME THE BARRIERS............................. 49 ENDNOTES .......................................................................... 55 REFERENCES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 APPENDIX. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 iii iv FOREWORD David Montoya Director USDA Office of Civil Rights Enforcement Advocates of equal employment opportunity have observed that barriers to career advancement are flexible lids. For the groups who are reserved in their interaction styles, their lack of assertiveness is cited as a barrier. For those who are less advanced in formal education, their relatively low level of educational attainment is a barrier. For those who are vocal, they are considered as too loud and therefore a liability to their career. For those who are focused in their professional pursuit, they are deemed to be not managerial material and they are left in their "technical ghetto." Some are blocked from advancement because they are too specialized; others are kept from upward mobility because they lack technical expertise! Many employees feel that they work in an environment of shifting values. If the selecting officials happen to like the employees; they focus on the strengths of the employees. If the selecting officials happen not to like the employees, they focus on the purported weaknesses of the employees. The key is in the definition of the situation. He who has the power to define the situation determines the outcome of that situation. The practice of "like hires like" is common in the employment world. It is not absent in the public sector. This dynamics of shifting values is reported in the study on Asian American experiences in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dr. Sam Wong, a staff member of the Foreign Agricultural Service, directed the study for the USDA Senior Executive Candidate Development Program. The USDA Office of Civil Rights Enforcement had the opportunity to review the report and decided to publish it. I congratulate Dr. Wong for making an exceptional contribution to the cause of equal employment by this "labor of love." Writing this report was not his regular work assignments. Almost one thousand -- one of every two -- Asian American employees in the U.S. Department of Agriculture participated in the study. The response rate is high and the findings are representative. The study clarifies the problems and challenges facing Asian American employees, and their employment situations might be representative of the conditions confronted by women and other ethnic and racial minority workers. v Being neither Black nor White should not keep Asian American employees, or any employees of whatever color or gender, from career advancement. The employment systems must be reformed to make full use of all the talents of all employees. A new USDA needs the gifts of all people; we must remove the barriers that keep them from reaching their full potentials. Washington, D.C. June 1994 vi ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This study is the by-product of a management project undertaken in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program (SESCDP) in 1993. Reiko T. Sakata of the Sakata Consulting Group, California, was the preceptor of the project. In that capacity, she worked with the author to develop the conceptual framework and the questionnaire for the survey of Asian Pacific American employees in the USDA. The project concluded with a paper titled Communication and Career Advancement: The Asian Pacific Experience in USDA. John Miranda, former Acting Administrator, USDA Office of International Cooperation and Development (OICD), provided the resources for the author's participation in the SESCDP and the implementation of the survey project. Larry Slagle, former Director, USDA Office of Personnel, authorized the use of the list of Asian Pacific American employees from the central personnel database. The 981 employees who responded to the survey are the real authors of this study. Recognized Asian Pacific leaders in USDA including Vi Baluyut, Pat Basu, Fumiko Church, Angel Cielo, Nilda Godwin, Eva Kaufman, John Kusano, Karen Liu, Hao Tran, and Jinhee Wilde, pre-tested the questionnaire and offered valuable comments on improving the questionnaire and other aspects of the survey. Wardell Townsend, Jr., USDA Assistant Secretary for Administration, endorsed the project and encouraged Asian employees to participate in the survey. Zhixu Zheng, a visiting scholar from China, developed the computer program in FoxPro for the analysis of the survey data. She also assisted in preparing the questionnaire for mailing. Lorraine Sigler, a computer specialist in OICD, provided assistance in scanning the mailing list from the Office of Personnel. Staff members of OICD, including Helen Stanard, Theresa Przybylek, Mary Griffin, Angela Robinson, and Lauren Beatty, provided valuable assistance at various stages of the management project. Other colleagues in USDA, including Mike Alexander, Bob Franco, Norm Franklin, Lon Hatamiya, Karin Leperi, and Bill Payne gave critical comments on various drafts of the concept paper and the project report. Laura Whitaker, a colleague in OICD, read the complete draft of this study and made helpful suggestions for improvement. She also gave critical comments on the project report. vii Marcus Fang, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, offered valuable insights on the problem of cross cultural communication. Joan Wallace, former Administrator, OICD, made available Maurice Dawkins' study of the problem of minority under-representation in the U.S. Department of State and offered cogent comments on how to overcome the barriers to career advancement. Cathy, Philip, and John Paul Javier-Wong, the author's teenage children, gave invaluable assistance in data entry. Mercedes Javier Wong, the author's spouse and resident critic, made inestimable investments in the management project and this study. David Montoya, Director, USDA's Office of Civil Rights Enforcement, wrote the FOREWORD for this report and provided resources to publish and distribute the report. Vi Baluyut, in her capacity as the Acting Asian American Program Manager of the USDA Office of Civil Rights Enforcement, provided oversight to the publication and distribution of this report. Ed Poe and Phil Villa-Lobos, staff members of USDA's Office of Communications, directed the review, editing, and publication process. The contributions of these mentors, friends, and colleagues, and the USDA employees who responded to the survey made possible the completion of the SESCDP management project and this study. viii EXECUTIVE SUMMARY •981 Asian employees responded to the survey, yielding a response rate of 55.2 percent. •Nine out of ten (94 percent) of the Asian employees (91 percent of the females) feel they can communicate well or very well. •Four out of five (83 percent) of the Asian employees (65 percent of the females) are college graduates, and 43 percent have advanced degrees. •Four out of five (82 percent) of the Asian employees (79 percent of the females) do not believe that Asians are so research-focused that they cannot supervise people. •Seven out of ten (70 percent) of the Asian employees (75 percent of the females) are from the three established ethnic groups in the Asian community -- Japanese, Chinese/Taiwanese, and Filipino. •Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of the Asian employees (56 percent of the females) believe they have "organizational savvy." •Six out of ten (62 percent) of the Asian employees (58 percent of the females) have career plans. •Almost six out of ten (59 percent) of all the respondents (50 percent of the females) feel there is a glass ceiling in USDA. •Slightly over one-third (37 percent) of the Asian employees (27 percent of the females) believe that their agencies discriminate against Asians. •Slightly over one-third (36 percent) of the Asian employees (43 percent of the females) have mentors. •One-third (34 percent) of the Asian employees, both male and female, have difficulty in balancing career and family. •Three out of ten (30 percent) of the Asian employees (25 percent of the females) are more comfortable dealing with their own ethnic groups than with other racial/ethnic groups. •Almost three out of ten (29 percent) of the Asian employees (32 percent of the females) feel they have been undercut (sabotaged) by their co-workers or supervisors. ix •Most Asian employees are not in upper grades. Only 8 percent are in Grades 14 and 15. There are no career senior executives. More females are in lower grades. •Grade 12 seems to be the modal grade for Asian employees with Doctor's or Master's degrees. •Grades below 11 seem to be the modal grades for Asian employees with Bachelor's degrees. x The Glass Ceiling Phenomenon 1 THE GLASS CEILING PHENOMENON vii In recent years, Americans of Asian Pacific Americans in Silicon Valley, little descent i have voiced concerns over the hard data is available on the nature of the phenomenon of the "glass ceiling" in their barriers facing Asian Pacific American workplace. Like women in the workforce, employees in the workplace. Asian Pacific American employees have encountered the artificial barriers that kept This study of the "glass ceiling" for them from career advancement. They "can Asian Pacific American employees in the U.S. see their way to the top of the career ladder, Department of Agriculture is the by-product of but bump into an invisible barricade when a project in the Department's Senior ii they try to make the climb." They Executive Service Candidate Development participated in roundtable discussions Program. It is a follow-up of an unpublished convened by the U.S. Commission on Civil report of the USDA Office of Advocacy and Rights to register their complaint that "highly Enterprise on workforce diversity. The report educated Asian Pacific Americans earned found that "low percentages of minorities and less relative to their white counterparts.... women in selected occupations, in particular [They] were much less likely to be in professional occupations; and low managerial jobs than comparable percentages of minorities and women in non-Hispanic whites." iii In the Fortune 500 higher grades, in particular GM/GS 13-15 and companies in the U.S., only 0.3 percent of in management and executive positions; senior executives are of Asian descent.iv [were] the two most significant problems of workforce diversity in USDA."viii In a recent study titled Evolving Workforce Demographics: Federal Agency This study is focused on the Asian Action and Reaction, the U.S. Merit Systems employees. It is an assessment of the Protection Board found that minority workers barriers that keep one group of minority are also under-represented in the senior people from moving into the senior grades grades in the Federal workforce. v It and into the management and executive recommended that Federal agencies "expand positions. It makes no attempt to compare their efforts to develop and advance the the Asian experiences with those of other careers of minorities in order to achieve full minority groups or with the dominant group in vi representation at all grade levels." the USDA. The study attempts to contribute to a better understanding of the "glass ceiling" Thus, in both the private and the problem by letting Asians speak out for public sectors, the "glass ceiling" themselves. And as they speak out, phenomenon is present for Asian Pacific strategies for overcoming the "glass ceiling" American and other minority employees. problem are identified and recommendations They are kept from advancement to senior for needed corrective actions are evolved. positions in the corporate world and in the Federal Government. However, except for the study on glass ceiling issues facing Asian The Glass Ceiling Phenomenon 2 It is the policy of the United States to insure equal employment opportunities Table 1:Asian employees are a for employees without discrimination small segment of the because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. USDA workforce 5 United States Codes 7201. 1984 1993 Percent of Asian employees in Of course, the responsibility for overcoming the "glass ceiling" problem does All Positions 1.1% 1.6% not rest with the Asians alone. In fact, in the public sector, the Federal Government, under Senior Positions 1.6% 2.3% 5 U.S.C. 7201 and the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, has the statutory mandate to eliminate situations in which a minority group in the civil service is under-represented. The In the U.S. civilian labor force, Asian data presented in this study are a call to the Americans and Pacific Islanders accounted Government to hasten its efforts in expanding for 1.6 percent in 1980 and 2.6 percent in and assuring opportunities for equal 1990. ix In 1984, the U.S. Department of employment for all Americans. Agriculture had a total of 97,624 employees in the permanent workforce of which Asian Pacific American employees accounted for 1.1 percent. In 1993, the total permanent workforce in the USDA had increased to 99,903, and the proportion of Asian Pacific American employees had also increased to 1.6 percent (Table 1).x Thus, the proportions of Asian Pacific American employees in the USDA were less than their proportions in the civilian labor force, but the Department had increased its recruitment and hiring of Asian Pacific Americans between 1984 and 1993. In 1984, a total of 10,671 USDA employees held senior level positions, Grades 13 and above. Of these, 1.6 percent were Asian Pacific American employees. In 1993, the total number of senior positions was 13,399, with Asian Pacific American employees occupying 2.3 percent of the positions (Table 1). Thus, the proportion of Asian Pacific American employees in senior The Glass Ceiling Phenomenon 3 level positions is considerably higher than larger agencies would provide more their proportion in the total permanent opportunities for development and workforce in USDA, even though none of the advancement, however, this is not true for career senior executives in USDA in 1993 Asian Americans. was an Asian. xi Based on these data, one might conclude that Asian Pacific American Asian employees are in 160-plus employees fare reasonably well in the USDA. different occupations, with 31.9 percent of them in the following five most populous job series: veterinarian (701 series), plant According to the records of the USDA protection and quarantine (436 series), Office of Personnel, the Department had computer specialist (334 series), chemistry 1,778 Asian Pacific American permanent (1320 series), and forestry (460 series). employees on its roll in June 1993. Of these, Again, to bring results to the advancement 59 percent were male and 41 percent were efforts, it might be more effective, as a short- female. They work in 36 of the 40-some or mid-term strategy, to focus on these more agencies and staff offices of the Department, populous occupations. with a concentration in six agencies: the Forest Service (28 percent), the Food Safety Asian employees are found in all the and Inspection Service (17 percent), the states and many of the U.S. territories. Many Agricultural Research Service (15 percent), of them are in California, Maryland, Hawaii, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Virginia, and Oregon. Service (12 percent), the Farmers Home Administration (6 percent), and the Soil To assess the status of the "glass Conservation Service (5 percent). The ceiling" in the USDA, a questionnaire was remaining 18 percent are found in the other mailed in August 1993 to the 1,778 30-some agencies and offices of the USDA. employees who were self-identified in the central personnel database as Asian As a strategy for moving Asians Americans or Pacific Islanders. A total of 981 upward on the career ladders in the USDA, it responded to the survey, yielding a response might be more effective to concentrate the rate of 55.2 percent.xii group efforts in the six agencies where the employees are already present in the pipeline, than to expend energies in the entire Department. Besides, some Asian employees in these six agencies have explicitly expressed the lack of promotional or developmental opportunities in their agencies. One of these agencies, for instance, envisions that "minorities will make gains starting at the entry level positions." No recognition is given to the representation of minority employees at the senior levels. Conventional wisdom would suggest that The Glass Ceiling Phenomenon 4 as the analysis in the section on the gender Table 2:More of those in upper factor shows, since more Asian females are in lower grades, and employees in lower grades grades responded to tend not to respond to the survey, the the survey under-representation of females in this study is probably due more to the grade factor than Population Survey the gender factor. Grade % % 15 1.45 1.36 14 5.19 7.00 13 11.21 13.58 Table 3:The most populous job 12 20.58 23.20 series are not 11 15.62 17.45 over-represented in the 10 0.22 0.31 survey 09 16.06 16.30 Below 09 29.67 20.80 Population Survey % % N= 1,778 N=957 Veterinarian 12.05 10.55 Plant Protection & Quarantine 7.14 5.64 While the findings of this study reflect Computer the views and opinions of one of every two Specialist 5.19 3.97 Asian Americans in the USDA, they are more Chemistry 3.85 2.51 representative of the employees in higher Forestry 3.57 4.81 grades, except for those in Grade 15 (Table N= 1,778 N= 957 2). Those below Grade 9 have not responded to the survey in proportion to their presence in the workforce. Perhaps, with the opportunity Given their relative dominance in the for advancement ahead of them, many of workforce, and the "promotion" of the survey them do not perceive or anticipate any by a senior staff person in Food Safety and barriers, and the emphasis of the survey is Inspection Service and the Asian Pacific less relevant to them. It might also be American program manager of the Forest possible that these employees, being in lower Service,xiv employees in the veterinarian and grades, feel that usually "nobody listens to forestry job series, along with those in the them" and therefore chose not to respond to other three most populous occupations (plant the survey.xiii protection and quarantine, computer specialist, and chemistry), can be expected to Proportionately, there were fewer have a dominance in the survey. The findings female Asian Pacific Americans in the survey might reflect more of the opinions and views than in the total population in the USDA (36.5 of these employees. However, as shown in percent in the survey; 40.9 percent in the Table 3, except for those in forestry, population). The reasons for their employees in four of the most populous under-representation are unknown. Perhaps, occupations were slightly under-represented The Glass Ceiling Phenomenon 5 in the survey. The survey results cover a broad spectrum of Asian employees. The Asian Pacific American respondents are in 130 different occupations (another 30 occupations are not represented in the results) and about two-thirds are in technical or research jobs. None of the respondents is in a blue collar or wage-grade position. About 40 percent of them are in supervisory or managerial positions. xv This diversity in occupations is probably more representative of the general Asian white collar employment situation than one might expect from a Federal agency. The Glass Ceiling Phenomenon 6 Table 4:Asian employees have many more years of service in the Government Age groups: Under 30 31-40 41-50 50+ Total % % % % YOS* 01-10 18 32 30 20 393 11-20 0 33 36 31 359 20+ 0 1 33 66 194 Total 8 26 33 33 946 *YOS= years of service Slightly more than two out of five (42 is a continuing frustration that would sap their percent) Asian employees have less than 10 energies and undermine their productivity. It years of service in the Federal Government makes equal opportunity into another (Table 4). Of these, 18 percent are under 30 "American Dilemma."xvii years old, 32 percent are in the 31-40 age group, 30 percent are in the 41-50 age group, and 20 percent in the oldest age group. If they remain in Government service, and if the average retirement age among them is 65, most of them will have 15 to 25 more years of service. Almost two out of five (38 percent) of the Asian employees have 11-20 years of service. Of these, 33 percent are in the 31-40 age group, 36 percent are in the 41-50 age group, and 31 percent in the oldest age group. Like their colleagues with less than 10 years of service, many of them will also have 15 to 25 more years of service. Thus, four out of five (80 percent) of the Asian employees in USDA will likely have 15 to 25 more years of service in the Government. xvi Those who are near their retirement age might be expected to tolerate the status quo of inequity. For people with 15 to 25 more years of service, the "glass ceiling" The Glass Ceiling Phenomenon 7 reflection of prior investment in education. Table 5:Asian employees are from Most Asian employees, it is believed, have acquired a high level of education which then diverse origins enables them to be assigned to the relatively (N= 926) senior positions. This argument appears to be supported in the survey. Number % Japanese 257 28 Chinese/ Taiwanese 243 26 Filipino 152 16 Indian 82 9 Pakistani 47 5 Vietnamese 40 4 Korean 37 4 Other Asian/PI* 68 7 * includes Hawaiian, Thai, Cambodian, Okinawan, Indonesian, and immigrants from other Asian countries and Pacific Islands and U.S. Territories. A majority of the Asian Pacific American employees in the USDA come from the more established ethnic groups such as the Japanese American, the Chinese and Taiwanese American, and the Filipino American (Table 5). Some of them are from India and Pakistan, South Korea and Vietnam. In addition, 20-some other countries-of-origin are represented among the Asian Pacific American population in the USDA. Three-fourths of the Asian Pacific American employees are married. Advocates of equal employment opportunity, especially those of Asian descent, have consistently argued that the relatively high number of Asian employees in senior positions in the workforce is not as much an indicator of career advancement as it is a The Glass Ceiling Phenomenon 8 Table 6:Most of the Asian Pacific American employees are college graduates Below Bachelors Bachelors Masters Doctors Total % % % % Below 11 39 49 11 2 356 11 7 52 25 16 167 12 3 32 24 41 221 13 3 31 14 52 129 14 & 15 1 17 8 75 79 Total 17 40 17 26 952 Of the Asian employees in this study, 26 percent have doctorates, 17 percent have master's degrees, and 40 percent have bachelor's degrees (Table 6). Among the Asian Pacific American employees in senior grades (grades 14 and 15), 99 percent are college graduates. At Grades 12 and 13, 97 percent are college graduates. At Grade 11, 93 percent. Even among those below Grade 11, 61 percent are college graduates. The Glass Ceiling Phenomenon 9 Table 7:Most Asian employees are not in upper grades (in number) Below Bachelors Bachelors Masters Doctors Total Grade Below 11 138 173 38 7 356 11 12 86 42 27 167 12 6 71 53 91 221 13 4 40 18 67 129 14 & 15 1 13 6 59 79 Total 161 383 157 251 952 Among the Asian employees are 251 Asian Pacific Americans are facing an "doctors," 157 "masters," and 383 insurmountable glass wall."xviii "bachelors." However, only 79 of all of them are in Grades 14 and 15, 129 in Grade 13, It might be argued that career and 221 in Grade 12. Most of the employees advancement is more of a function of with master's and doctor's degrees are in experience (i.e., seniority in service) than Grade 12, and most of those with bachelor's education. Given the same conditions, those degrees are below Grade 11 (Table 7). who have more years of service are likely to be higher in grade. This argument, however, If career advancement is contingent does not appear to be supported in this study. on educational achievement, more Asian Pacific American employees should be in the senior positions than the current 2.3 percent in USDA. Of course, it is possible that the higher educational attainment of the Asian employees might work against them, as noted by a respondent: "The credentials of those in management are so sparse that there is no desire to recognize people of superior talent." (Case 53) The highly educated employees may be perceived as a threat rather than an asset to their supervisors and managers. The relatively low proportion of highly educated Asian Pacific American employees in higher grade positions confirms the perception that in USDA, as in the corporate world, "most The Glass Ceiling Phenomenon 10 Table 8: Years of service have no consistent impact on grade level (N= 953) YOS*: 01-05 06-10 11-20 21-30 30+ Total % % % % % Grade Below 11 30 22 35 10 4 357 11 28 13 38 15 6 165 12 19 20 38 19 4 221 13 14 11 49 23 4 130 14 & 15 10 23 34 29 5 80 *YOS= years of service Among Asian Pacific American those below Grade 11 and those in Grades 12 employees with 1-5 years of service, there is or 13. a concentration in the lower grades, 11 and below (Table 8). Thus, only for two "tenure" groups, 1-5 years and 21-30 years, grade level is For those with 6-10 years of service, apparently and partially determined by there is practically no difference among those seniority in service. However, given the fact below Grade 11, those in Grade 12 and those that seniority in service does not consistently in Grades 14 and 15; or between those in lead to higher grades, it cannot be said that Grade 11 and Grade 13. career advancement is primarily a function of seniority in service. Among those with 11-20 years of service, there is practically no difference between those below Grade 11 and those in Grades 14 and 15, and there is no difference between those in Grades 11 and 12. A large proportion of them, however, are in Grade 13. For those with 21-30 years of service, there is a concentration in the upper grades. For those with more than 30 years of service, there is practically no difference between those in Grade 11 and those in Grades 14 or 15, and no difference between The Glass Ceiling Phenomenon 11 Table 9:Grade 12 seems to be the modal grade for Asian employees with the doctor's degrees (N=249) Grades: Below 11 11 12 13 14 & 15 Total % % % % % YOS:* 01-05 6 25 35 22 11 63 06-10 4 11 33 17 35 46 11-20 0 4 40 37 20 87 21-30 2 2 38 24 34 50 30+ 0 0 0 33 67 3 *YOS= years of service To reduce the variation of educational levels and years of service on grade levels, Grade 12 seems to be the modal employees who are college graduates are grade for Asian employees with a doctor's isolated for further analysis. Among those degree. Proportionately, there are as many with doctorates and 1-5 years of service, a employees with 6-10 years of service in majority are in Grade 12. Those with 6-10 Grade 14 (35 percent) as are those with years of service are more concentrated in 21-30 years of service (34 percent). Grades 12 and 14 (Table 9). Those with 11-20 years of service are concentrated in Grades 12 and 13, and those with 21-30 years of service are mostly in Grades 12 and 14. If seniority is a "determinant" of grades, one should find proportionately more Asian "doctors" with more years of service in the upper grades. This expectation is partially met among those in Grade 11 with 1-5 years of service (25 percent) and those in Grade 12 with 6-10 years of service (33 percent), and those in Grade 13 with 11-20 years of service (37 percent). However, there are fewer "doctors" in Grades 14 and 15 with 21-30 years of service (34 percent) than those in Grade 13 with 11-20 years of service. The Glass Ceiling Phenomenon 12 Table 10:Grade 12 seems to be the modal grade for Asian employees with the master's degrees (N= 157) Grade: Below 11 11 12 13 14 & 15 Total % % % % % YOS* 01-05 34 36 24 6 0 50 06-10 27 21 39 6 6 33 11-20 17 21 40 19 4 53 21-30 17 28 28 17 11 18 30+ 0 33 67 0 0 3 *YOS= years of service For those with master's degrees (Table 10) and 1-5 years of service, a majority are below Grade 11 or in Grade 11. Those with 6-10 years of service are concentrated in Grade 12 or below Grade 11. Those with 11-20 years of service are mostly in Grade 12, and those with 21-30 years of service are in Grades 11 and 12. The expectation that more "masters" with more years of service will be found among the upper grades is partially met among the Grade 12s. However, there are more "masters" with 1-5 years of service in Grades below 11 than those with 6-10 years of service in Grade 11. And the Grade 13 with 21-30 years of service are fewer than those in Grade 12 with 11-20 years of service. Thus, the impact of experience and educational level on grades is inconsistent among employees with master's degrees. Like the employees with doctor's degrees, Grade 12 seems to be the modal grade for Asian employees with master's degrees. The Glass Ceiling Phenomenon 13 Table 11:Grades Below 11 seem to be the modal grades for Asian employees with the bachelor's degrees (N= 381) Grade: Below 11 11 12 13 14 & 15 Total YOS* 01-05 72 15 10 1 1 79 06-10 60 12 23 5 0 75 11-20 37 30 17 11 5 151 21-30 18 26 28 25 4 57 30+ 21 26 21 21 11 19 *YOS= years of service As shown in Table 11, the modal comparable to other employees with similar grades for employees with the bachelor's level of education or similar years of service. degrees are Grades below 11. The expectation that holding educational level constant, one would find more "bachelors" with more years of service in the upper grades is met, except for those with 1-5 years of service. It was reported in the MSPB study (1993) that "experience and education are two of the most important factors in career advancement in the Federal Government. Those at the highest grade levels... tend to be those with the greatest length of Federal service, and those with the most formal education." xix This might be true for the Federal workforce, as a whole; but for Asian Pacific American employees, years of service or high level of education, or both, do not assure that they would be in the senior positions in USDA. Being in positions that are not commensurate with their educational achievement or years of service, Asian employees are in effect denied the opportunity to earn an income The Glass Ceiling Phenomenon 14 The Glass Ceiling Phenomenon 15 THE JOB SITUATION How do Asian employees feel about their job situations? Are they in the right positions? Are their careers at a stand- still? Table 13:Many Asian employees Do they plan to move elsewhere? What feel their careers are at chances do they have for promotions? These a standstill are some of the questions asked of the Not employees. Yes Sure No Total % % % Grade Table 12:Most Asian employees feel Below 11 54 23 23 355 they are in the right 11 42 25 33 165 12 53 21 26 222 positions 13 50 21 29 129 14 & 15 34 33 33 79 In the right positions: Total 49 23 27 950 Yes No Not Sure Total % % % Grade Below 11 45 36 19 352 As shown in Table 13, 49 percent of 11 55 29 16 163 the Asian employees feel that their careers 12 51 32 16 220 are at a stand still; only 27 percent feel 13 55 29 16 127 otherwise. Another 23 percent are not sure of 14 & 15 61 23 17 79 the status of their careers. Most employees in Total 51 32 17 941 Grade 12 and below Grade 11 feel their careers are at a standstill. One-half of those in Grade 13 also have the same feeling. Those in Grade 14 and 15 are about evenly One of every two (51 percent) Asian divided among the ones who believe their employees feel that they are in the right careers at a standstill, those who are not sure, positions. Almost a third feel they are not and those who believe their careers are not at (Table 12). There are more of those in higher a standstill. More than one-fifth of the grades who feel they are in the right positions employees at each grade level are not sure if than those in lower grades. There is a their careers are at a stand still. sizeable number of Asian employees, across every grade level, who are not sure if they are The proportion of those who feel their in the right positions. careers are at a standstill (49 percent) is exactly the complement of those who feel they are in the right positions (51 percent). There are more employees who are not sure if their careers are at a standstill (23 percent) The Job Situation 16 than those who are not sure if they are in the right positions (17 percent). Conventional wisdom in the Federal workforce, especially among employees in upper grades, is that employees should always look around for new opportunities for promotion or other challenges. Smart employees, it is said, look for other job opportunities regularly. Do Asian employees follow the conventional wisdom? Table 14:A majority of Asian employees are not actively seeking other jobs Seeking other jobs: Not looking Did Apply in now last 3 years % % Grade Below 11 70 59 11 71 61 12 73 57 13 77 53 14 & 15 81 46 Total 73 57 N= 951 N= 954 As shown in Table 14, 73 percent of the Asian employees are not looking for another job now. Those in higher grades tend not to be actively looking for another job. However, 57 percent of them did apply for a job in the last three years. Again, those in higher grades tend not to have applied for another job in the last three years. The Job Situation 17 Table 15: Most Asian employees feel they have the same chances for promotion Not Chances: Poorer Same Seeking Better Total % % % % Grade Below 11 30 38 15 17 348 11 26 26 33 15 163 12 34 33 19 14 222 13 40 25 27 9 128 14 & 15 28 31 29 12 78 Total 31 33 22 14 939 Among Asian employees, 22 percent are not seeking a promotion, 31 percent feel they have poorer chances for promotion than their co-workers, 33 percent feel they have about the same chances, and 14 percent feel they have better chances (Table 15). More employees in Grade 13 feel they have poorer chances of promotion than their co-workers, and more of those below Grade 11 feel they have about the same chances as their co-workers or better chances to get promoted. More of the Grade 11 are not seeking promotion, and more of those in Grades below 11 feel they have better chance for promotion. The Job Situation 18 Table 16:Profile of employees not The analysis thus far has shown that almost one-half (49 percent) of the Asian seeking promotion employees in USDA feel their careers are at a standstill, slightly under a third (32 percent) Satisfied with present grade (N= 203) of them feel they are not in the right positions, Not very satisfied 9% almost another one-third (31 percent) feel Somewhat satisfied 52% their chances of promotion are poorer than Very satisfied 39% their co-workers, and one-fourth (27 percent) are actively looking for another job now. In the right position (N= 200) Strongly disagree 4% It is not clear at what point the Disagree 9% dissatisfaction of a group of individual Not sure 12% employees becomes a group issue. Perhaps, Agree 55% as long as the individual employees feel that Strongly agree 19% their situations were unique and no recognition is given to the systemic nature of Actively looking for another job (N= 203) their problems, the individual malaise will Yes 8% xx remain within the individual domain. No 92% Moreover, the individual "problems" at the workplace are either moderated or Did apply for another job in last 3 years (N= aggravated by the employee's perception of 204) the support they receive from their Yes 36% supervisors. If the perception is positive, the No 64% relatively negative situation at work might be neutralized. If the perception is negative, the Career at a standstill (N= 202) negative situation might be further Yes 31% exasperated. Not sure 25% No 44% What kind of working relationships do the Asian employees have with their supervisors? Do they feel that their Among the employees who are not supervisors are supportive of their career actively seeking promotion (Table 16), 91 development? percent are satisfied with their present grades, 74 percent feel they are in the right positions, but only 44 percent feel their careers are not at a standstill (and 25 percent are not sure). Slightly over a third (36 percent) of them did apply for another job in the last three years and 8 percent are actively looking for another job (perhaps a change of environment, without promotion potential). The Job Situation 19 Table 17:Most Asian employees feel their supervisors are supportive of their career development Supervisors are: Supportive Not Supportive ** Total % % % Below 11 65 13 23 356 11 66 13 19 166 12 68 11 22 219 13 70 7 23 130 14 & 15 71 12 18 78 Total 67 12 21 949 ** don't know Table 17 shows that 67 percent of the Asian employees feel that their current supervisors are supportive of their career development; only 12 percent feel otherwise. There is almost no difference across grade levels among those who feel that their current supervisors are supportive, but those in the higher grades tend to feel their supervisors are supportive of their career development. Conversely, with the exception of those in Grade 13, there is not much difference among those who feel that their supervisors are not supportive. The 21 percent of Asian employees who are not sure of their supervisors' support might indicate a lack of communication between the employees and their supervisors. The Job Situation 20 Table 18:Supportive supervisors seem to make a difference Employees who have Supportive Non-Supportive supervisors supervisors (on the grade issue) (N= 634) (N= 108) are not very satisfied with grade 31% 69% are somewhat satisfied with grade 47% 29% are very satisfied with grade 22% 2% (on the career issue) (N= 632) (N= 110) feel careers are at a standstill 40% 77% are not sure of their careers' status 25% 16% don't feel careers are at a standstill 35% 6% Table 18 shows that of the employees supervisors are non-supportive who feel their who feel no support from their supervisors, 69 careers are not at a standstill. percent are not very satisfied with their present grade, and 77 percent feel their Thus, it appears that supportive careers are at a stand still. While it is not supervisors are a key factor in how an claimed that non-supportive supervisors are employee feels about his/her job situation. To a contributing or causal factor for an cultivate better support for Asian employees employee's dissatisfaction with his/her and to enhance their career advancement, present grade or the feeling his/her career is Asian American organizations might design at a stand still, there is a strong positive or sponsor seminars and workshops targeted correlation among these variables. In fact, in for supervisors of Asian employees. These the AACI's study, over 30 percent of the supervisors might be given some incentives respondents note the "lack of encouragement to attend the seminars and workshops to help from supervisors" as an obstacle of career them provide better support to Asian advancement.xxi employees. Employees with non-supportive From the data on years of service, supervisors are twice as many as those with educational attainments, and grade levels, supportive supervisors to feel not very one might conclude that a "glass ceiling" satisfied with their present grades. There are appears to be present for Asian employees in almost six times as many employees whose the USDA. The question is, do the Asian supervisors are supportive than those whose employees themselves feel there is a "glass ceiling" in their agencies? The Job Situation 21 Table 19:Most Asian employees feel there is a glass ceiling in USDA Is there a glass ceiling? Yes No * Total % % % Grade Below 11 50 35 15 342 11 60 34 6 163 12 65 26 9 216 13 68 25 7 125 14 & 15 67 27 6 79 Total 59 31 10 925 While 49 percent of the Asian employees feel their careers are at a standstill (Table 13), 59 percent of them feel there is a "glass ceiling" in their agencies (Table 19). However, 31 percent are certain there are no barriers that would keep them from advancement, and 10 percent of the Asian employees do not understand the concept of "glass ceiling." Except for those below Grade 11, more than 60 percent of the Asian employees at each grade level feel that their agencies have a "glass ceiling." Even for those below Grade 11, 50 percent feel the same way. Among those who believe that a "glass ceiling" is present in their agencies (415 out of 925), 33 percent feel it is very widespread, 44 percent feel it is somewhat widespread, and 23 percent feel it is a little widespread. The Job Situation 22 BARRIERS TO CAREER ADVANCEMENT Lack of communication skills. Among the persistent perceptions of Asian Pacific Americans held by the dominant group in America is the impression that Asian Pacific Americans lack good communication skills.xxii As the ability to communicate well orally and in writing is among the basic criteria for supervisory, managerial, and executive xxiii positions in the Federal Government, this presumed deficit in social skills is cited as a key barrier to career advancement. It is reaffirmed in the AACI's study in which 25 percent of the respondents feel that written and verbal communication skills are the main obstacles to career advancement.xxiv To put it simply, Asian Pacific Americans are not promoted to senior positions because they are unable to communicate well. What are the necessary communication skills in the corporate world? xxv Gary T. Hunt specifies that "perception, listening, planning, organizing, and presenting" are the communication skills essential to a business organization. Owen Hargie, in A Handbook of Communication Skills, identifies non-verbal communication, questioning, reinforcement, reflecting, starting or ending [a conversation], explaining, self-disclosure, and listening as the core social skills in communication. He further includes humor and laughter, handling strong emotions (such as anger and violence), asserting and confronting, and showing warmth and Barriers to Career Advancement 23 communication skills as very well, 55 percent as well enough, and 6 percent as poor. This empathy as some of the special dimensions is contrary to the popular impression. The xxvi of communication. Asian employees in USDA do not "buy into the stereotype" to accept it as valid for If being able to communicate is themselves. The employees in Grade 13 essential for career advancement, how well have the highest proportion (48 percent) do Asian Pacific Americans communicate? among those who consider themselves Are there differences in communication skills having superior communication skills. The among Asian Pacific American employees? If difference between those in Grade 11 and so, what are these differences, and what those below Grade 11, and those of Grade 12 effect is there on career advancement? Do and those in Grades 14 or 15, is slight. In employees with a high level of communication both instances, the difference is three points. skill tend to have higher grades in On the other end of the scale, there are Government Service? These were some of notable numbers of Asian employees in the questions addressed by the survey, and Grade 13 and those below Grade 11 who the responses were presented in the Wong consider themselves inadequate in paper (1993). communication skills. Asian employees have also been Table 20:Possession of a high level criticized for the accents in their speechxxvii or speaking English haltingly. It is also believed of communication skills that their co-workers have problems does not necessarily understanding what they say. These lead to career criticisms are accepted by only a minority of advancement the Asian employees in USDA: 22 percent feel they have strong accent in their speech; Level of Skills: 8 percent feel they speak haltingly in English, Poor Well Very Total and 20 percent believe their co-workers have Well problems understanding what they say. % % % These patterns are probably to be expected in Grade a diverse people; not everyone in the Asian Below 11 9 58 33 346 community is a Laurence Olivier or a Ronald 11 5 59 36 165 Reagan; but neither is everyone in the 12 4 51 45 219 dominant group in the USDA workforce! 13 7 45 48 128 14 & 15 1 57 42 79 The question is, what level of Total 6 55 39 937 communication skills is acceptable to the dominant group? Does the attainment of a set level of communication skills ensure that As shown in Table 20, 39 percent of the employee would be moved to a higher the employees rate their overall grade, or, would she/he meet with other barriers? Why is it acceptable to have Barriers to Career Advancement 24 German or French accents in one's speech "What do you feel are the obstacles to career and not Japanese or Indian accents? Is it advancement for Asian Pacific employees in plausible that the oft-repeated stereotype your Agency?") that some employees believe about Asian Americans not having good that some aspects of inadequacy in communication skills is a generalization by communication skills are among the the dominant group in America from their obstacles to career advancement for other interaction with the segment of Asian Asian Pacific American employees! Some community that has inadequate of the typical comments include: communication skills? "Asian Pacific employees have the tendency The analysis in the paper not to express their feelings to their Communication and Career Advancement: supervisors involving the issues The Asian Pacific Experience in USDA, related to their work." (Case 18) shows that Asian Pacific American incumbents of higher grades do not "Poor ability to express ideas, thoughts and necessarily have a higher level of feelings." (Case 117) communication skill. Conversely, lack of a high level of communication skill does not "Most Asian Pacific scientists are modest and necessarily keep an Asian Pacific American somewhat introverted. Language is a employee from attaining a high grade in barrier also. I don't think we know Government service. how to 'toot our own horn' like extrovert managers." (Case 203) The fact is, while a vast majority of Asian Pacific American employees in the "Most of us are not good sales persons; it's USDA workforce feel that they have adequate not our nature to promote our or more than adequate communication skills, accomplishments. We somehow most of them are not in higher grade positions. need to overcome this." (Case 220) Probably, there is some truth in the observation of one respondent: "Poor communication skills. Traditionally, we "Management pre-selects the employee for are taught to listen and not speak. At the vacant position. Therefore, it doesn't work, this means our work is matter about the communication skills you under-appreciated and overlooked." possess." (Case 373) Possession of good (Case 266) communication skills or a lack of good communication skills has no consistent "Asian Pacific employees lack effective correlation with career advancement. communication skills. They are too emotionally attached to their cultures More importantly, the Asian Pacific and paradigms." (Case 284) American employees in the USDA do not accept the stereotype that they lack good "Being too cautious, afraid to speak up/out. communication skills, as the stereotype is Grow tire and be wary of the politics applied to them. There is some evidence (in easily. Feeling being left out or not the responses to the open-ended questions, Barriers to Career Advancement 25 wanting to be a part of the system (to as technologists (technical coolies)" and avoid the politics)." (Case 757) "being discriminated against because of their cultural style."xxxii This phenomenon is also Too research-oriented. reported for women in the workforce where Another persistent stereotype on Asian stereotyping "acts as a barrier." xxxiii Ann Pacific Americans held by the dominant group Morrison, in her study of non-traditional in America is the perception that Asian Pacific leaders, expands on how stereotyping is a Americans are un-aggressive and too barrier to career advancement: "[S]tereotypes technical to become managers, xxviii or that make it acceptable... to ignore, disparage, or they are "so research oriented and technically discount the qualities and contributions of focused that they are not able to supervise nontraditional managers." xxxiv It is plausible people."xxix As in the case of communication that the persistent perceptions that Asian skills, the Asian Pacific American employees Pacific American employees lack good in the USDA reject this stereotype by 82 communication skills or are so percent. research-oriented and technically-focused that they cannot supervise people are a form Until recently when recognition was of subtle discrimination. given for senior-level positions in research, a scientist could only advance his/her career by Key Barriers. Ann Morrison, in being a manager. This practice might explain the study of non-traditional leaders, has why 86 percent of the Asian employees who identified six barriers for career advancement: are not supervisors or managers now, want to (1) prejudice: treating differences as enter those ranks. xxx This is considerably weaknesses; (2) poor career planning; (3) a higher than the 74 percent in the AACI's study lonely, hostile, unsupportive working who are interested in managerial positions. environment for nontraditional managers; (4) lack of organizational savvy on the part of Thus, most Asian Pacific American nontraditional managers; (5) greater comfort employees do not feel that they are so in dealing with one's own kind; and (6) research-oriented or technically-focused that difficulty in balancing career and family. xxxv they cannot supervise people. A vast majority Maurice Dawkins, in his study of the glass of them feel that they are interested in ceiling problem in the U.S. Department of supervisory or managerial jobs. And more State, emphasizes the importance of having than 95 percent of them (547 of 574) feel that the right person to be one's mentor. Thus, they have the necessary skills to supervise or lack of a mentor can also be a barrier to manage people. The rub is, most of them are career advancement. not in supervisory or managerial jobs; and most of those who are now supervisors and While the SESCDP project was managers are not in the higher grades. focused on the perception of Asian Pacific employees on the relationship between In Thomas' study, Asians cite communication skills and career stereotyping by the dominant group as the advancement, the survey included some xxxi key barrier to their advancement. They questions on the key barriers as identified by face the twin barriers of "being pigeon-holed Morrison, Dawkins, and others. Barriers to Career Advancement 26 Table 21:Asian employees have to be better performers Table 22:More employees in higher than white employees grades believe their to get ahead agencies discriminate against Asian Yes Not Sure No Total employees % % % Not Grade Yes Sure No Total Below 11 56 23 22 338 % % % 11 59 18 23 165 Grade 12 69 17 14 218 Below 11 29 33 38 347 13 71 17 12 127 11 29 31 40 163 14 & 15 70 11 19 79 12 49 23 28 218 Total 63 19 19 927 13 41 29 29 126 14 & 15 44 26 29 79 Total 37 29 34 933 Prejudice. In the AACI's study,xxxvi 26 percent of the Asian respondents cited "racial prejudice and stereotypes" as a factor The employees were also asked, "Do in limiting their advancement. Does this you feel that your Agency discriminates barrier work in the USDA? The employees against Asian Pacific employees?" Those were asked, "Do you feel that Asian Pacific who agree account for 37 percent of the and other minority employees in your Agency respondents, those who disagree account for have to be better performers than white 34 percent. The "not sure" are 29 percent employees to get ahead?" More than (Table 22). three-fifths (63 percent) of them feel that they have to be better performers, almost one-fifth Employees in Grade 12 have the (19 percent) feel otherwise, and another highest proportion -- almost one of every two one-fifth (19 percent) are not sure (Table 21). --who believe their agencies discriminate against Asian employees. More than Among those who feel they have to be two-fifths among those in Grade 13 and in better performers than white employees to Grades 14 and 15 also hold such a belief. get ahead are 70 percent of the Grades 14 Almost three out of ten (29 percent) in Grade and 15, 71 percent of the Grade 13, and 69 11 and below Grade 11 believe their agencies percent of the Grade 12. For those in Grade discriminate against Asian employees. Do 11 and below Grade 11, the proportions are the views and opinions among these smaller but still well over 50 percent. Might employees suggest that Asian employees in one speculate that as the employees move higher grades are more likely to have higher up in the career ladder, they are more experienced discrimination in their agencies observant of the disparate expectation? thus the higher proportion who hold the belief Barriers to Career Advancement 27 that their agencies practice discrimination? In proportion (41 percent). The ability and any case, prejudice may be a factor in the capability of Asian employees to assume lack of career advancement for some Asian extracurricular assignments seems to be employees in the USDA. recognized and utilized by the USDA agencies and by the Department. Prejudice The puzzle is, why do many of those in the form of denial of visibility assignment who feel they have to be better performers to does not seem to be working against Asian get ahead (63 percent) do not feel that their employees. agencies are in discrimination against their kind (34 percent)? Is this acceptance of Nonetheless, Asian employees in disparate treatment a factor in keeping them USDA do feel that they have been from moving ahead in their careers? discriminated in other ways. The following is a sample of their observations: Table 23:Many Asian employees "My current supervisor is young and not as experienced as I am. I believe I've have had high visibility been discriminated against because I assignments was not born here and look different. I've enough data to prove my belief." Yes No Total (Case 731) % % Grade "I have tried every possible way to get Below 11 41 59 344 promotion or to get 11 45 55 162 position/remuneration relevant to my 12 46 54 219 qualifications but had no success. 13 43 57 125 Being a foreign-born professional, I 14 & 15 56 44 79 have no chance of getting certification Total 44 56 929 for executive service." (Case 75) "I made 13 certificates for promotion to Prejudice in the workplace takes GM-13 grade but unable to get the many forms. Not being given the opportunity promotion. I don't know what else I for high visibility assignments is one form of have to do." (Case 903) prejudice. However, Asian employees have a high proportion of visibility assignments. "Minority groups always have to work harder There were 44 percent of them having had and prove themselves. There still is high visibility assignments in the last 3 years some unconscious discrimination (Table 23). based on stereotypes." (Case 307) Those in Grades 14 and 15 have the "In my last panel review, the subject specialist highest proportion of Asian employees having could not even understand my work, had high visibility assignments (56 percent). not to mention to do the same." (Case Those below Grade 11 have the lowest 731) Barriers to Career Advancement 28 Hostile environment. The Table 24:Most Asian Pacific environment and the corporate culture in American employees which one works are key factors in career advancement. If the environment is have a career plan supportive, the employee may be moved along and moved up in his/her career. If the Yes No ** environment is hostile, the employee's career % % % may be stalled or regressed. This process is Grade reported in Dawkins' study of the Below 11 59 32 8 under-representation of minorities at the 11 62 32 6 State Department. Dawkins found a 12 63 30 7 conspicuous absence of minorities and 13 68 26 6 women in mid-level and senior-level positions 14 & 15 66 30 4 in the State Department. "Asians were not Total 62 31 7 making as much progress as Hispanics, Hispanics were lagging behind Blacks, and **Do not know how to make a career plan. Blacks were making less progress than [white] women."xxxviii Some Asian Pacific American employees of the State Department reported Lack of career planning. that some "managers and supervisors are Most minority employees, it is believed, do not sanctioned [and rewarded] for failure to have a career plan. Early in their careers, comply with equal opportunity provisions," many of them are channeled to staff positions and their special contribution to the linkage with little or no promotion potential in the with Asian nations is not recognized or organization. They are in a display case utilized. xxxix (Dawkins, nd:4). The State xxxvii rather than on a fast track. Among USDA Department does not appear to be a friendly Asian employees, lack of career planning environment to these employees. How do does not seem to be a factor for keeping the Asian Pacific American employees fare in the majority of them from career advancement; USDA? 62 percent of them have a career plan. However, 7 percent do not know how to make How well do the Asian employees a career plan, and almost one-third (31 interact with their co-workers and supervisors? percent) of the Asian employees do not have How much freedom do they have doing their a career plan (Table 24). jobs? Do they have opportunities for formal training for career development? Have they While those in upper grades are more been undercut or sabotaged by their likely to have a career plan, the variation co-workers, subordinates, or supervisors? among the different grades is slight. Lack of These are some of the indicators of the "tone" career planning does not appear to be a of the work environment or the culture of the factor in the lack of advancement for most of organization. the Asian Pacific American employees in the USDA. Barriers to Career Advancement 29 Table 25:Most Asian employees Table 26:Most Asian employees have a lot of freedom have attended some on the job formal development courses Amount of freedom: No. of courses: A lot Some None Total % % % None 1-2 3 or more Grade Total Below 11 60 34 6 354 % % % 11 60 34 6 167 Grade 12 63 32 5 220 Below 11 26 36 39 351 13 65 31 4 130 11 27 42 31 165 14 & 15 74 24 2 80 12 24 41 35 220 Total 63 32 5 951 13 30 51 19 130 14 & 15 26 45 29 80 Total 26 41 33 946 Table 25 shows that 63 percent of the Asian employees feel they have a lot of freedom to do assignments in their own ways, Table 26 shows that between 24 32 percent feel they have a small amount of percent to 30 percent of Asian employees freedom, and 5 percent feel they have no across the grade levels have not had formal freedom at all. development courses in the last three years. Employees in Grade 13 have the highest As they move up in grades, more percentage among those who have not taken, employees have more on-the-job freedom. within the last three years, formal training for For instance, 74 percent of those in Grades career advancement. However, in the same 14 and 15 report having a lot of freedom, but time period, most Asian employees have had only 60 percent of those in Grades below 11 at least one formal development course. feel they have a lot of freedom. The reversed Those below Grade 11 have the highest pattern is also true for employees in lower percentage among the ones who have grades. There are more Asians below Grade attended more than three courses. While 11 who feel they have no freedom to do many of those in Grade 13 have not attended assignments in their own ways. Except for any formal development courses within the those in the top grade levels, there is very little last three years, they have the highest difference across grades among Asian percentage among the ones who had employees who feel they have some freedom attended at least one course. on the job. It might be noted that the inquiry was about attending formal development courses in the last three years. Attending three Barriers to Career Advancement 30 courses in that period is equivalent to Lack of organizational savvy. attending one course per year, not a lot of To some human resource consultants, the formal training for career development. possession of organizational savvy is the critical factor for career advancement. The Shields term it "corporate street smarts." xl Table 27:Asian employees have John Fernandez, Donna Thompson, and been undercut by their Nancy DiTomaso call it the "soft" side of a corporate culture. xli It involves the co-workers or understanding of the politics of an supervisors organization, knowing the key players in the organization, and having access and Undercut by Undercut by connection to the grapevine. Indeed, the co-workers supervisors comments of many of the respondents, as % % listed below, show their grasp of this crucial Grade concept. Below 11 26 29 11 33 30 It is "comparable to the stereotypical 12 28 31 'woman's intuition' - a gut feeling 13 33 28 about how one's agency works, who 14 & 15 32 29 to go to to get things done, when to Total 29 29 act, when not to act, how to do a job that superiors will like...." (Case 60) In their work experience in the last "Knowing who are the key players in an three years, 29 percent of the Asian Pacific organization who hold power, American employees feel that they have been interacting with them, and making that undercut or sabotaged by their co-workers knowledge work to your advantage." and their subordinates, and the same (Case 80) proportion of them feel that they have been undercut or sabotaged by their supervisors "Know when to speak up and when to shut up. (Table 27). Thus, for most Asian Pacific Know how to float out trial balloons American employees, the environment is not and let your boss take some credits, too hostile. Nonetheless, the sizeable make your boss look good. Know number of employees who feel hostility in how to plant ideas into your their environment or the corporate culture administrator's head so it will become should be a concern for the senior managers his/her ideas. Do not rush to take in the USDA. Is it normal for almost 30 credit in front of public; let someone percent of a group of employees to feel that else do it for you." (Case 220) they have been sabotaged by their co-workers or supervisors? Is there a "Understanding who makes decisions and standard of acceptable hostility in the what gets priority, how to please your workplace? supervisor and make him look good, Barriers to Career Advancement 31 what to pay attention to, and what to ignore." (Case 251) Table 28:Many of those in upper grades feel they have "To have a feel for the current 'climate' of the entity and use this knowledge to "organizational savvy" better serve you and your objectives." (Case 388) Yes No * Total % % % "Knowing what battles to fight and with whom. Grade Understanding what the political Below 11 60 21 19 343 alliances are, but remaining as neutral 11 64 20 16 164 as possible." (Case 389) 12 66 16 17 214 13 67 17 17 126 "Playing the games, but not losing your 14 & 15 73 22 5 77 integrity. Networking, going to Total 64 19 17 924 meetings/lunches, joining committees. Be seen. Get to know the people * Do not understand the meaning of with power." (Case 510) "organizational savvy" "It's 3-D chess -- understanding not just what's happening at your level, but at In the survey, the Asian Pacific levels above and below, putting all American employees were asked, "Do you together." (Case 520) feel you have 'organizational savvy?'" More than three-fifths (64 percent) of them "Knowing the unwritten rules to use to one's answered "Yes," and almost one-fifth (19 advantage in an organization." (Case percent) answered "No." However, slightly 653) under one-fith (17 percent) of them do not understand the meaning of "organizational "Ability to work the system to get things done. savvy." (Table 28) Those in the upper grades To know the right people to talk to to (14 and 15) have a higher proportion who feel get decisions or answers to questions, they have "organizational savvy" than those in while not offending other people. To the lower grades (below Grade 11). However, know when to go up the line for a there is very little difference among those in decision or to go around it." (Case grades 11 through 13. 784) "One must have good peripheral vision as Table 29:Most Asian employees are well as forward look." (Case 817) attuned to the political nuances of their "To be included in the agency's 'inner circle' through political and other environment connection." (Case 967) Yes No ** Total Barriers to Career Advancement 32 % % % Yes Not Sure No Total Grade % % % Below 11 54 36 7 343 Grade 11 64 35 2 165 Below 11 50 38 12 347 12 59 40 1 210 11 48 35 17 163 13 60 39 1 126 12 49 34 17 217 14 & 15 55 42 4 77 13 46 42 12 127 Total 59 37 4 921 14 & 15 47 38 15 79 Total 49 37 14 933 ** do not understand the meaning of "political nuances" As being "in the know" is an indicator of "organizational savvy," a reliable source of Almost three-fifth (59 percent) of the information is a key element in organizational respondents feel that they are tuned to the savvy. About one-half (49 percent) of the "political nuances and subtleties" of their work Asian Pacific American employees feel they environment but almost two-fifth (37 percent) have reliable sources of information, but feel otherwise. Another 4 percent state they under two-fifths (37 percent) are not sure, and do not understand the expression "political 14 percent do not have reliable sources of nuances and subtleties." (Table 29) information (Table 30). If being "in the know" is a reliable indicator of "organizational Most of the Grades 14 and 15 are savvy," only one-half of the Asian employees attuned to the political nuances of their work really have this "smartness." This is 15-point environment, however, they are also the least less than those who claim to have among the ones who are so attuned. More of "organizational savvy." the employees in Grade 11 are attuned to the political nuances of their work environment While those below Grade 11 have the than their colleagues in lower or higher most claiming to have reliable sources of grades. For Asian employees, grade levels information in their agencies, most Asian do not appear to have consistent correlation employees across all grade levels feel that with being in tune with political nuances. The they have reliable sources of information. high proportion of those who are not attuned The variation across grades is only 4 points - to the political nuances of their environment not a lot of difference. However, a higher indicates that this may be an area for percentage of the Grade 13 (42 percent) are intensive development for Asian employees among those who are not sure if they have who wish to advance their careers. reliable sources of information in their agencies. It is unclear whether the "not sure" is a substitute for the seemingly more Table 30:Most Asian employees feel negative "no." It appears that Asian employees need to expand their information they have reliable contacts to make sure that their sources of sources of information information are reliable. How this can be Barriers to Career Advancement 33 done is yet another area for training and development. Table 31:Asian employees do not necessarily find it more Other barriers. In addition to the comfortable dealing above key barriers, Ann Morrison has identified "greater comfort in dealing with with people from their one's own kind, and difficulty in balancing own ethnic group career and family" as the other barriers to career advancement. In the survey, the Asian Yes Not Sure No Total Pacific American employees were asked how % % % difficult it is for them to balance their career Grade and their family and whether they find it more Below 11 33 13 54 355 comfortable to deal with people from their 11 30 9 61 164 own ethnic background than those from other 12 32 13 55 220 racial/ethnic background. 13 26 11 63 126 14 & 15 25 14 61 80 Total 30 12 57 945 On the issue of being more comfortable with one's own kind, 57 percent are in disagreement; only 30 percent feel that they are more comfortable dealing with people from their own ethnic/racial group (Table 31). Among those in upper grades, only 25 percent or 26 percent feel they are more comfortable dealing with their own ethnic groups but there is a higher proportion among those in lower grades. Among those who are not necessarily more comfortable dealing with people from their own ethnic background than those from other racial/ethnic background, there is little or no difference for those in upper grades and in Grade 11, or those in Grade 12 and in Grades below 11. For some Asian employees, being in higher grades do seem to make for a greater disposition to deal with other groups. Barriers to Career Advancement 34 sponsor is probably it. While more than one Table 32:Both Asian males and third (36 percent) of the respondents report they have people who act as a guide, advisor, females have about the or counselor at various stages of their careers, same difficulty in the majority of them do not have a mentor. balancing their career and their family Among the mentors identified, 244 are Whites, 74 are Asian Americans, 21 are Difficult Not Difficult Afro-Americans, 6 are Hispanic Americans, % % and 7 are Native Americans. and 256 are males and 56 are females. The contribution Men 34.1 65.9 of these mentors to the career advancement Women 33.6 66.4 of Asian employees has not been determined. Total 33.9 66.1 Given the general acceptance of the crucial role of mentors and sponsors in making contacts and building networks for their On the issue of balancing their career "mentees" and "protégés," the high proportion and family (bearing in mind that 75 percent of of Asian employees not having a mentor or the respondents are married), 66 percent feel sponsor may be a factor in their difficulty in that it is not difficult, and 34 percent feel shattering or bypassing the "glass ceiling."xliv differently (Table 32). There is no difference Thus, mentoring is another area of between male and female on their development for Asian employees. assessment of the "balancing act." The same proportion of Asian men and women have about the same difficulty or no difficulty in balancing career and family. Lack of a mentor. In the study of under-representation of minorities at the State Department, Maurice Dawkins reported that "mentoring was the glue that held the process together." He cited numerous cases in which having a mentor did make a difference in one's career advancement. xlii Finding a mentor, according to the Shields, is xliii a success planning strategy. Do Asian Pacific American employees in the USDA have mentors? Who are their mentors? If there is a weaker area in the career advancement strategy of Asian Pacific American employees, the lack of a mentor or Barriers to Career Advancement 35 THE GENDER FACTOR It was reported that female Asian employees, for whatever reasons, did not respond to the survey proportionately to their presence in the USDA workforce. Nonetheless, 349 did respond. The number of female respondents in this study is larger than the total number of respondents for the California study (AACI, 1993). It has often been said that "women have to work twice as hard" and "company is not willing to take risks on women." xlv A woman senior executive noted that "women have to prove through their dealing with people that they are competent and reliable. With men, it is assumed [they are competent] and they have to prove they are not."xlvi Or, as one of the respondents of this study wrote: "I have had to prove myself in every position I've been in. First with my supervisor and then continually with both the public and other employees. If there is any one major gripe I have, it is that I feel I have to work 10 times harder than a white male before I can gain respect, and people always question my competence before I am ever given a chance." Minority women face a double discrimination, for being a minority and being a woman. In the MSPB study, it is reported that "minority women are even more poorly represented in top-level jobs in the Government than are non-minority women."xlvii Given the scarcity of data on the employment situation of Asian women, it might be instructive to compare the perceptions of male and female Asian The Gender Factor 36 taught to be content with what is doled out. Consequently, many of us will employees on the "glass ceiling" problem in not ask for opportunities to advance the USDA. careers." (Case 677) To highlight the uniqueness of the "Being female and a minority, my opinions or data and to look at the survey results from a contributions are often dismissed as different perspective, the comparison of the of little consequence. Only by being Asian female and male experiences in the very assertive and vocally promoting xlviii USDA will be presented in graphs. Much my accomplishments can I advance." of the comments on the employment (Case 266) conditions of Asian employees as stated in previous sections are, by definition, "The management goals [for removing the applicable to the condition of Asian women. glass ceiling] given to our state office However, there are some unique experiences affect only 'target' grades in the upper only the Asian females know first-hand, as management grades GS 11 through shown in the following remarks. 13. Lower grades were not included. We in the 'trenches' who daily deal "My main obstacle is my supervisor. He with the general public are in probably resents my technical knowledge and the worst situations... We endure high my abilities to get along with my levels of stress." (Case 348) regional and headquarters staff. He has a tendency to harass Asian females in our office. He does not like me because I always speak up about the unfairness and incompetence in our work place." (Case 54) "Male supervisors do not consider female workers (especially if you are a racial minority) as equal. If you work hard and out-perform your peers, you become a target of resentment and jealousy, and become isolated." (Case 166) "The obstacles are more due to my gender than my race. It is difficult to break into the white male management layer." (Case 66) "Traditionally in our culture, female Asians are not asked for opinions. We have been The Gender Factor 37 Figure 1 Figure 2 One of every two (50 percent) of the Asian Over two-fifths (41 percent) of the female female employees in USDA have been in employees are below Grade 9, and none of Government service for 1 to 10 years. the respondents is a Grade 15. l They are also fewer in the upper grades. Slightly over one-third (36 percent) have served for 11 to 20 years. As discussed in the previous sections, in USDA, Asian employees as a whole are not In contrast, slightly over one-third (37 percent) moving ahead in their careers. Asian female of the Asian male employees have served for employees, it appears, are doing worse than 1 to 10 years and almost two-fifths (38 their male colleagues. percent) have served for 11-20 years. This pattern is similar to what is found in the As the MSPB study noted, "to the extent that MSPB's Government-wide employee survey: advancement depends on experience, "[Women] are frequently found in the lower women in the Government are at a graded jobs."li disadvantage."xlix This is applicable to Asian women in USDA. The Gender Factor 38 Figure 3 Figure 4 For educational attainment, female "doctors" There are more Asian females of Japanese are 30 percent of the male "doctors," and and Filipino background. female "bachelors" are 94 percent of the male "bachelors." The Chinese/Taiwanese American females have practically the same proportion as the However, there are more female "masters" males. than males and 32 percent of the Asian females are not college graduates. Together, the 3 established groups account for 65 percent of the males and 74 percent of MSPB noted that "there is a tendency for the females. those in top-level jobs to have more formal education than those in lower level jobs."lii The female group has less ethnic diverse than the male group. Given many Asian women are without a college degree, their advancement to senior-level positions might be further frustrated. The Gender Factor 39 Figure 5 Figure 6 Asian females below age 45 account for 67 Whether it is due to women's ability to reach percent of the respondents. out to other people or their more acceptability to other people, more of them (61%) feel they In contrast, 42 percent of Asian males are are not necessarily more comfortable dealing under 45. with their own ethnic groups than dealing with people from other racial/ethnic background. More Asian females are younger than their male counterparts. Despite their higher educational attainment and their self-perceived better communication As discontent with lack of promotional skills, more men feel more comfortable opportunities tends to increase with age,liii it dealing with their own ethnic groups. can be expected that unless the "glass ceiling" is shattered or bypassed, more Asian The greater ease of Asian women to reach women in the USDA in the next decades will beyond their own groups is a strength to build complain more vocally about "double on for their career advancement. discrimination." The Gender Factor 40 Table 33:Adequacy in Communication Skills Male Female Very well & Well enough in % % Non Verbal Communication 83 82 Asking Questions 88 87 Reinforcing 89 87 Feedback 85 83 Starting & Ending Conversation 97 94 Explaining 93 87 Disclosure 86 81 Listening 98 97 Figure 7 Assertiveness 87 80 Persuading & Negotiating 87 77 More Asian females feel that their overall Keeping supervisors communication skills are not very well. informed 96 95 However, they are a minority, about 3 percent. Speaking up in meetings 83 67 Writing 92 89 More than 90 percent of them feel that their overall communication skills are adequate. Disagreement with Accent in speech 58 67 Speaking English haltingly 79 80 Co-workers having problem understanding employee 70 70 On each of the eight Hargie's core social skills in communication (Table 33), liv Asian females are behind their male colleagues. The Gender Factor 41 However, except for starting or ending a conversation, explaining, and disclosure, the difference is less than 2 points. Noteworthy is the high proportions, in both the female and male groups, who rate themselves as having adequate or more than adequate command of the skills in question. In the four job-specific communication skills, male and female employees have no difference on keeping supervisors informed of the status of their projects. The female employees are behind the male in the other three skills, especially the one on speaking up in meetings. In fact, on this as well as the one about persuading and negotiating with co-workers, many female employees might benefit from further skill training or practice. On the three situations unique to the Asian Figure 8 condition, the female employees are ahead of their male colleagues in two issues (accents More female employees (34%) do not have a and speaking English haltingly), and career plan and more of them do not know practically even with them on the third one how to make a career plan. (co-workers' problem in understanding the employee). Both female and male have It is more likely for them to be encouraged "to about the same views on these issues. They stay in staff positions rather than move to line might benefit from having specialized training positions. to smooth out the rough edges in their oral communication.lv Thus, when they apply for promotions they are not as competitive as men who have line experience."lvi What they need is what the Shields sisters called "success planning" which involves developing and implementing a series of lvii career strategies. The Gender Factor 42 Mentors are people who can help an employee to discern and build on their strengths and skills. They make important contributions to one's knowledge of how things work, values, technical competence, growth in character, knowledge of how to behave in a social situation, understanding the world, understanding of how to get things done in or through an organization, moral development, and so forth. "The mentor is particularly valuable as a conduit for passing along organizational culture and history, thereby ensuing continuity in organizational development."lix Figure 9 In the MSPB's study, it has been shown that "women are somewhat more likely than men to have been helped by 'having a senior person/mentor looking out for [their] interests.'"lviii Thus, it appears to be a weakness in the career advancement strategy of Asian women that less than one-half of them (43%) have a mentor or a sponsor. As stated in a previous section, "mentors" have been identified as a key factor for career advancement for many people. The Gender Factor 43 Figure 10 Figure 11 Unlike the private sector where "people tend to have mentors of their own gender,"lx more Similarly, since Asians and other minority females in USDA tend to choose males to be employees are relatively few in the upper their mentors. grades, the choice of a white person to be one's mentor appears to be a wise move. This is perhaps due to fewer women in senior positions available to mentor them. As the upper grades in USDA are still dominated by males (only 15 percent of the Grades 13-15 and only 10 percent of the SES positions were filled by women in FY 1990),lxi having a male mentor might be a wise strategy for career advancement. The Gender Factor 44 Figure 13 Figure 12 "Organizational savvy," what the Shields More Asian females (32%) feel they have lxii sisters call "corporate street smarts," has been undercut by their co-workers and been extensively defined by the respondents subordinates than males. (pp. 32-33). It has been shown (Table 27) that fewer of It might be noteworthy that there is a 9 point those in lower grades were undercut by their difference between men and women who feel co-workers, and a high proportion of Asian they have organizational savvy, and another women are in lower grades (Figure 3), 6 point difference among those who do not therefore, the 32 percent of Asian women understand what "organizational savvy" is. who have been undercut by their co-workers and subordinates are mostly those with a Evidently, Asian females are less adept in higher grade, probably the Grades 12 and 13. "playing the game." The higher up they move on the career ladder, the more likely they are to be undercut by their co-workers. This phenomenon is due probably to the relatively recent entry of Asian women into The Gender Factor 45 the higher grades or supervisory positions, and they had to "earn the respects" through trials. For female and minority people to succeed as managers, their managers need to watch out for signs of sabotage by their subordinates and by the "managers of managers" themselves. Figure 14 Among Asian females in the USDA, 59 percent are occupied in a technical or research field. In contrast, 72 percent of the Asian males are so occupied. Both males and females confirm the stereotype that Asians are drawn to technical and research jobs. However, many of these same technical and research personnel strongly dissent from the notion that Asians are so research-focused that they cannot supervise people. The Gender Factor 46 While there are fewer female dissenting, they account for almost four-fifths (79 percent) of the female respondents. Thus, those who disagree with the stereotype include not only the scientists and technicians, but also employees in the non-technical fields. Figure 15 Slightly over one-fourth of the female employees feel their agencies discriminate against Asians. This is considerably less than the 41 percent reported for the male employees. However, more females are not sure if their agencies discriminate against Asians. This pattern is similar to the AACI's study in which 50 percent of male respondents feel that promotional opportunities are inadequate for Asians, while 38 percent of females feel similarly.lxiii How Asian females are discriminated in the USDA has already been stated in the words of the respondents (pp. 37-38). The Gender Factor 47 HOW TO OVERCOME THE BARRIERS In the previous sections, the study has referred to the barriers to career advancement as identified by the experts. How do Asian employees in the USDA define the barriers that keep them from promotion? The following are a sample of what they think. "The stigma that Asians are not minorities in need, that preference ought to go to Blacks and Hispanics. The stigma that Asians are technician-types, not managerial." (Case 29) "Asians are perceived as "shy, followers, and non-assertive." (Case 93) Figure 16 "Managers' lack of understanding of Asian cultures. Lack of mentor and networking by Asians. The need for Fewer females than males feel there is a Asians to be more assertive and "glass ceiling" in their agencies. visible." (Case 501) However, those who so feel account for "Our obstacles are lack of strong political one-half of the female respondents and are support and connections." (Case 79) considerably higher than those who feel that their agencies discriminate against Asians. "Asians (males especially) are not as adept at playing politics than whites and blacks. Many of the female employees feel there is a They are less likely to complain about "glass ceiling" in their agencies (therefore unfair treatment and about blocking their career advancement), but they discrimination, and are therefore do not consider it as a form of discrimination. bypassed for upgrades/promotions in favor of others who are more vocal (and often less experienced and qualified)." (Case 124) "Being assertive, aggressive, and seeming overconfidence are considered undesirable traits and rude manners [by Asians]. These traits and How to overcome the barriers 48 manners need to be developed in "Play politics with manager and supervisor. Asian Pacific employees." (Case 134) Go along or conform with their ways, even though you strongly disagree...." "Being too cautious, afraid to speak up/out. (Case 54) Grow tired and be wary of the politics easily. Feeling being left out or not "Either one or a combination of the following: wanting to be a part of the system (to (a). Stick one's head in the sand and avoid the politics)." (Case 757) ignore things around you; (b). Appear threatening, as if ready to file a "Culture of the agency. It still is an 'old boys grievance at the drop of a hat; (c). [Be network' and basically a white man's servile, an apple polisher] -- the world. When they (agency power servile seems to advance more brokers) say minority, it usually is in quickly; (d). Seniority outweighs merit, reference to Black or Hispanic." even when positions are announced (Case 846) as 'merit promotion;' (e). Know someone higher up." (Case 98) "There are many misperceptions by other minorities and Whites of Asian Pacific "To follow orders like a dog and not cause persons [such as] we are the shadow 'any ripples in the pond.' Don't cause race, not really seen; the gray color, any problems that management not black or white; we are not would have to answer to or defend." assertive enough to make good (Case 114) supervisors; we prefer occupations that don't require or have little "If we had more Asian males or females in a interaction with people." (Case 960) supervisory capacity, we Asians on the lower technical positions would The respondents also have come up not be overlooked." (Case 224) with specific recommendations (including some cynical ones) for dealing with or to "It certainly isn't in your work performance or overcome the barriers, as listed below. quality. It appears to me it's who you associate with, who you hang around "It might help some Asian Pacific employees and who you socialize with after hours to be able to look at the organizational determines the criteria for career chart and see at least one Asian advancement. I feel the people I work Pacific employee instead of the typical for don't support their people; only that middle-aged white male." (Case 696) they want your support to upgrade themselves." (Case 319) "Advancement of career requires 'acceptance.' Asians should improve "Kissing up to people in power, going along speech, manners, and improve their with good old boys, having acceptability." (Case 11) connections in order to move around." (Case 460) How to overcome the barriers 49 "We need more people participate in the executives know the situation [about politics and lobbying for promoting the glass ceiling]." (Case 19) Asian Pacific employees in the U.S. workplaces." (Case 478) "Be not afraid to speak up. Asians are too preoccupied with their work and do "Having a mentor is very important. I have not take time to speak with managers seen many white employees shoot about their desire for promotion." past me on the career ladder with the (Case 41) help of a mentor in upper level management." (Case 480) "Asian employees in management need to serve as a mentor to other Asian "Strong antidiscrimination enforcement and employees. Asian employees need to change in attitude of the agency take advantage of the EEO and civil towards minorities in general. I have rights and grievance processes. had more than enough training from Many are afraid to use these means." [my agency] and advanced degree (Case 54) beyond DVM, such as M.S., and Ph.D. from this country. I don't know what "Asian employees should get together and else it takes." (Case 838) help each other." (Case 87) "It is easier for top USDA management "There is a glass ceiling - bullet-proof. One officials at the Washington level to strong asset of Asian Pacific realize this [glass ceiling] problem and employee is hard working. We prove break it from above." (Case 887) ourselves by deeds not by words. This asset in fact becomes the biggest "You tell your superiors what they like to hear liability because we become the silent and if you master the art, you might sub-sub-minority." (Case 112) even get promoted." (Case 945) "Network with other Asian Pacific American "Asians should continue to demonstrate their employees. More effective hard working habits, technical skills organization like APANA which can and improve their communications. articulate needs and provide support They should educate non-Asians to each member through programs about their heritage and culture." like mentor program and information (Case 11) sharing." (Case 139) "Asians cannot isolate themselves. They "Form a strong Asian political coalition to have need to be aware of what's going on in a stronger voice and influence with the work place. They need to earn the Administration." (Case 175) respect from their co-workers and management, and they need to work "Increase the awareness of the agency about together to let the high level 'glass ceiling.' Organize and demand equal opportunity through a national How to overcome the barriers 50 organization that represents Asian themselves to implement many of these ideas, Pacific employees." (Case 209) their employer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has to ensure that it is indeed "Perhaps one way would be to eliminate all fulfilling its mandate as specified in the Civil references to employee name, Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA, 1978), to gender and ethnicity from the recruit "minorities [including Asian Americans evaluation processes during hiring. and Pacific Islanders] for positions in the This would help eliminate favoritism in agency to carry out the [antidiscrimination] selection. Asians must also help each policy... in a manner designed to eliminate other. Sometimes I think nothing under-representation of minorities in the short of a class action suit will make a various categories of civil service difference." (Case 480) employment...." (CSRA, 1978, Sec. 310) In the context of Asian Americans, this means "Make agencies practice what they preach! the shattering of the "glass ceiling" that keeps 'Value diversity.' Asians are different; them from reaching the upper grades in accept us and our qualities. Don't Government service. make us into the other ethnic groups." (Case 510) The "glass ceiling" exists largely because generations of managers in the "Need more political associations with the USDA have fostered a culture similar to that White House. We Asians need to be in the private sector. It "recognizes and much more active in politics and on all advances those of similar backgrounds with levels." (Case 581) like-minded attitudes."lxiv This culture has to be changed in the interest of equal justice, "Until there is a court case the 'glass' will not and the infusion of fresh perspective and new be broken." (Case 758) blood into public service. This transformation is necessary for "reinventing Government." "Learn the hiring processes, rules and policies, and file grievances when Fifty years ago, the Swedish unjust hiring has occurred." (Case economist Gunnar Myrdal published an 774) influential study on the U.S. Blacks and he titled the work An American Dilemma. The "Must have programs and support from crux of the dilemma was, how a nation whose Asians who have made it to the top. creed is equality of all men could promote and Strong group presentation. Be very maintain a society of racial segregation. vocal, very supportive of one another. Today, in the workforce, America is Mentor each other." (Case 782) confronted with a new dilemma. It is the specter of a group of highly educated men Clearly, the Asian community does and women being denied of access to the not suffer from lack of ideas. What is needed upper echelon of American corporations and is a core of committed "believers" to make Government because of the color of their skin. many of these ideas into reality. In addition to They are neither black nor white. They are what the employees can and should do How to overcome the barriers 51 "strangers from a different shore." They are Asian Americans. In the past, Asian Americans have remained silent. They supported and advanced the interests of their employers despite discrimination. Through the medium of a survey, some of them have now spoken. If a highly educated people are denied access to higher grades in their occupations, what is the value of education? Is a mockery being made of the counsel on getting a good education given to thousands in the younger generation? How much talent can an organization afford to waste and not lose its competitive edge? If a people of a different color, neither white nor black, are denied career advancement because of the color of their skin, what is the meaning of equal opportunity? The Asians have spoken. Are they being heard? Should they not be heard in this age of cultural diversity and reinvention? Should they not be heard as their number multiplies in the workforce? What should be the responses from their employers? What should be the responses from the people whose fore-parents fought and died for equal justice? Shall cynicism and resentment rule the workforce? The "glass ceiling" issue is an issue of fairness. Its impact reaches beyond the workplace. It undermines not only the morale of a workforce but also the social bond that holds together a diverse people. It erodes the hard fought gains for which generations of civil rights leaders gave their lives. When a people of a particular color are denied their equal opportunity today, all people can expect their opportunity similarly diminished. The "glass ceiling" must be removed, now! How to overcome the barriers 52 How to overcome the barriers 53 ENDNOTES i . This group includes the traditionally recognized Japanese Americans, Chinese Americans, Filipino Americans, Hawaiians, Korean Americans, and the self-identified Indian Americans and Pakistani Americans, and the more recent immigrants from Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. For a history of Asian Americans, see Takaki, 1989. Unless noted otherwise, the terms "Asians," "Asian Americans," "Asian Pacific Americans," and "Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders," as used in this study, are interchangeable. They include all these sub-groups. ii. MSPB, 1992:2; also DOL, 1992. iii. CCR, 1992:18. iv. According to the Korn/Ferry's International Executive Profile, cited in CCR, 1992:133. v. MSPB, 1993:22. vi. MSPB, 1993:39. vii. AACI, 1993. However, this study is more diverse than the AACI's study in ethnic composition. The proportions of college graduates in both studies are about even, however, the Silicon Valley sample has a higher proportion of holders of advanced degrees. viii. OAE, p.1. ix. MSPB, 1993:22. x. USDA Work Force EEO Profile for 1984 (as of 9/28/85) and 1993 (as of 4/13/93), compiled by the Office of Advocacy and Endnotes 54 Enterprise. of USDA are not available for this study. However, according to the U.S. Office of xi. Based on data compiled by the USDA Personnel Management, as of December Office of Civil Rights Enforcement (formerly 1991, 1.6 percent of the Federal workforce the Office of Advocacy and Enterprise). have doctorates, 7.5 percent have master's degrees, 2.1 percent have professional xii. The methodology of the survey is in the degrees, 24.5 percent have bachelor's appendix. degrees, 27 percent have some college education, 34.6 percent are high school xiii. Deepak Bhatnager, a research geneticist graduates, and 2.7 percent are not high with the Agricultural Research Service, school graduates. In contrast, according to shared this observation with the author. the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1 percent of the U.S. workforce (age 25 and older in 1992) xiv. Angel Cielo, a veterinarian in the Food have doctorates, 6.5 percent have master's Safety and Inspection Service and currently degrees, 1.8 percent have professional the president of the Asian Pacific American degrees, 17.2 percent have bachelor's Network in Agriculture (APANA), personally degrees, 7.4 percent have associate's encouraged his colleagues to respond to the degrees, 18 percent have some college survey. John Kusano, the Asian Pacific education, 35.7 percent are high school American program manager in Forest Service graduates, and 12.4 percent are not high and currently the vice president of APANA, school graduates. Data on the Federal and wrote a letter to the Asian employees in U.S. workforces were compiled by the Forest Service to request their cooperation. Federal Times, published on May 16, 1994. xv. Supervisory positions do not necessarily xix. MSPB, 1993:13. carry a high grade. Some employees in Grade 7 are in supervisory positions. Many xx . See C. Wright Mills' The Sociological veterinarians at Grade 11 are supervisors. Imagination (1959) for a discussion of the Managers, by definition, are supervisors of transformation of individual "troubles" into supervisors. They usually carry a higher public "issues." grade, 13 or above. xxi. AACI, 1993:26. xvi . Unlike the AACI's study, more of the USDA employees are in the older age groups. xxii . CCR, 1979:426 & 564; CCR, The AACI's sample, as a whole, is much 1992:131-2. younger. xxiii. From an OPM handout distributed to the xvii. Myrdal, 1944. Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program. xviii. CCR, 1989:66. Data on educational attainment for the total permanent workforce xxiv. AACI, 1993:25. Endnotes 55 xxv. Hunt, 1980:9. xlii . Dawkins, n.d.:29-30, 80-104; MSPB, 1992:24; DOL, 1991:22. xxvi. Hargie, 1986. xliii. Shields and Shields, 1993:67. The role xxvii. Takaki, 1989:447. of a mentor will be further elaborated in the section on the gender factor. xxviii . CCR, 1979:426 & 564, CCR, 1992:131-2. xliv. The AACI's study merely mentioned "a lack of mentors" as an obstacle to career xxix. Morrison, 1992:35. advancement. It was not highlighted as a key factor (1993:26). xxx. Among Asian employees 373 are now supervisors or managers; the number of xlv. DOL, 1992:35. non-supervisors/non-managers is 574. As of June 1993, none of the senior-level research xlvi. MSPB, 1992:29. positions is occupied by an Asian, even though Asians are known for their focus in xlvii. MSPB, 1992:33. research! xlviii. It might be worthwhile to emphasize that xxxi. Thomas, 1991:119. the graphs are presented in percentages. Thus, female employees are either xxxii. Thomas, 1991:102; Dawkins, n.d. proportionately higher or lower than their male colleagues on the issues in questions. xxxiii. MSPB, 1992. In terms of absolute numbers, there are more males than females in most situations. The xxxiv. Morrison, 1992:37. overall difference is 603 males and 349 females. Unless noted otherwise, these are xxxv. Morrison, 1992:34. the bases for comparison. xxxvi. AACI, 1993:26. xlix. MSPB, 1992:13. xxxvii . MSPB, 1992:2; Thompson and l. According to the central personnel record, DiTomaso, 1988. two Asian women are in Grade 15. However, neither one had responded to the survey. xxxviii. Dawkins, n.d.:1. li. MSPB, 1992:9. xxxix. Dawkins, n.d.:4. lii. MSPB, 1992:14. xl. Shields and Shields, 1993:118-149. liii. AACI, 1993:17. xli. Fernandez, 1981:278; Thompson and DiTomaso, 1988:143. liv. Hargie, 1986. Endnotes 56 lv. For a demur on the issue of accents, see Takaki, 1989:447. lvi. MSPB, 1992:30. lvii. Shields & Shields, 1993:48-71. While the book Work, Sister, Work by the Shields sisters is written for Black women, Asian females and males can benefit tremendously from the practical advice. It is a "how to" book for anyone serious about advancing his/her career. lviii. MSPB, 1992:24. lix. From materials distributed in the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program. lx. MSPB, 1992:24. lxi. MSPB, 1992:55. lxii. Shields and Shields, 1993:118-137. lxiii. AACI, 1993:16. lxiv. Namkoong, 1992:13.
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