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The Model Minority Myth and Asian American Heritage Month
Posted 05.16.17
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Jonathan A. Segal
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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.

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About Jonathan A. Segal
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Jonathan A. Segal is a partner at Duane Morris LLP in the Employment Group. He is also the managing principal of the Duane Morris Institute. The Duane Morris Institute provides training for human resource professionals, in-house counsel, and other leaders at client sites and by way of webinar on myriad employment, leadership labor, benefits and immigration topics. Jonathan has served intermittently as a consultant to the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C. for more than 20 years, providing training on employment issues to federal judges around the country. Jonathan also has provided training on harassment on behalf of the EEOC as well as providing training on diversity to members of the United States intelligence agencies. Jonathan is also frequently a featured speaker at national, state and local human resource, business and legal conferences, including conferences sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Pennsylvania State Chamber of Business and Industry. Jonathan’s practice focuses on maximizing compliance and minimizing legal risk. Jonathan’s particular areas of emphasis include: equal employment opportunity in general and gender equality in particular: social media; wage and hour; performance management; talent acquisition; harassment prevention and correction; and non-competes and other ways to protect your business. You can find him on Twitter @Jonathan_HR_Law .