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Asian American Discrimination In The Workforce

Like many, we were deeply saddened by the recent hate crimes targeting Asian Americans. While the focus has been on this specific incident in Atlanta, we have been able to observe a form of discrimination to the Asian American community for some time.

Revelio Labs

3/23/21

Like many, we were deeply saddened by the recent hate crimes targeting Asian Americans. While the focus has been on this specific incident in Atlanta, we have been able to observe a form of discrimination to the Asian American community for some time.

While many Asian Americans have made tremendous strides to achieve top professional positions in the US, that does not mean they are not subject to significant discrimination in the workforce. To achieve the same level of seniority as their non-Asian counterparts, Asian Americans require a much higher level of education. On average, Asians take on graduate studies a full 70% more than non-Asians to attain the same exact positions.

This worries us for two reasons: (i) unnecessary credentials can cost a great deal of time, money, and foregone earnings, and (ii) this gap represents a widespread discrimination in the way the employers treat different Asian applicants. This is not unlike the case of the Harvard admissions committee systematically penalizing Asian applicants.

In the general population, level of education is one of the strongest predictors of becoming more senior:

plot

However, Asians in America, attain much higher levels of education than non-Asians, and achieve almost the exact same levels of seniority:

plotplot

We consider the additional share of Asians attending graduate school, that would not have needed to otherwise, as a kind of discrimination penalty. This penalty varies considerably by city in the US:

plot

Takeaways:

  • While very successful in the workforce, we see strong evidence that Asian Americans face higher entry barriers to top positions than their peers, a form of workforce discrimination.
  • For the same occupations and level of seniority, Asians attain graduate degrees 70% more than their non-Asian counterparts.
  • This Asian penalty is positive and significant in all major US cities, but highest in Raleigh, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh.

If you have any ideas of other metrics to track or would like to hear more, please feel free to reach out.

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