The Model Minority Myth and Asian American Heritage Month

I am pleased to share my latest post to The SHRM Blog.

It is Asian American Heritage Month.  As we celebrate the many contributions of Asian Americans, let’s also bury the “model minority myth.”  The myth hurts Asian Americans and here’s why:

  1. If you are a model minority, you are not likely to get the help that you very well may need.  When we assume all individuals in a group are stellar, the individuals who need support are less likely to get it.
  2. If you are a model minority, then there is an implication that you may be stronger than others.  This can result in bias against individuals who are white or members of other minority groups who, in fact, are stronger when it comes to a particular job opportunity.
  3. With the model minority myth may come higher expectations.  Being good is not good enough.  We expect more:  why isn’t this person as successful “as they should be?”  This may result in bias against Asian Americans because of the inflated expectations.
  4. When individuals talk about Asian Americans as the model minority, there can be a tendency to focus on math and science. This may hurt Asian Americans when they apply for jobs that require strong interpersonal skills such as HR. That is, the myth may create silos for Asian Americans.

Let’s acknowledge how much better our world is because of the contributions of Asian Americans without stereotyping about them in a way that sounds benign but is anything but.

This Blog should not be construed as legal advice or as pertaining to specific factual circumstances.

Jonathan A. Segal

About Jonathan A. Segal

Jonathan’s preventive and corrective approach to employment/HR issues includes counseling, policies, training, agreements and audits. Areas of substantive focus include, for example: gender equality, wage and hour compliance, social media and employee engagement. When Jonathan isn’t counseling employers or dedicating his time to SHRM and the HR community, he can be found volunteering his time and efforts to animal rescue. Jonathan is also mad about Mad Men, writing and speaking on the employment issues arising out of the MadMen Era! Follow Jonathan on Twitter @Jonathan_HR_Law.