As an Asian American, I’ve noticed that we face different assumptions from other racial groups. In the workplace, I’ve identified four common misconceptions that Asians are facing in the workplace that aren’t just held by non-Asian, but within our community as well.
Here are 4 Common Misconceptions that Asians Face in the Workplace:
Misconception #1: Asians are all the same.
In the US, Asians come from over 20 countries in the East, Southeast, and Indian subcontinent. We’re not all Chinese. Included in that population are the pacific islanders and native Hawaiians.
Misconception #2: There are too many Asians in the workplace.
When there are more than a few of us, then there are too many of us. BeamJobs reported how this is particularly true in tech where Asians make up 29% of employees at the 35 largest tech companies. I remember seriously debating if I should bring on another team member who was Asian American on my already all-Asian team because I was worried people would think I only hired other people of Asian heritage. The impact is that some Asians can feel self-conscious and even guilty about taking up so much space, which can lead to Asians minimizing their presence and then perpetuating another stereotype of Asian silence.
Misconcpetion #3: Asians don’t “count” as people of color.
I believe Asians aren’t counted as “people of color” because that term is often conflated with those experiencing economic hardship who are entitled to aid. Therefore Asians, who have the highest median household income in King County, where I live, presumably don’t meet those criteria. For these reasons, there are Asian Americans who don’t see themselves as people of color. For Asians who do call ourselves “people of color,” we are compelled to remind others we are not white. The impact of this assumption is denying Asians experience racism in the workplace.
Misconception #4: Asians as the silent workhorses.
Asians are often described as “hard-working”. We are the silent workhorses. I am also guilty of holding this assumption. I have asked for help from Asian colleagues instead of non-Asian colleagues in off-hours because I think Asians are more likely to say yes.
Which of these misconceptions that Asians are facing in the workplace have you unintentionally had? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section. If this was helpful, please share it with a friend or post it on social media.