Am I less Likely to be Promoted?

An Ascend study reported that while white women were also underrepresented at the highest levels, Asian women were the least likely to be executives, relative to their proportion of the workforce. Researchers wrote, “The ‘Asian effect’ is 3.7X greater than the ‘gender effect’ as a glass ceiling factor.”

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My findings from a recent WomenTech Network talk:

  • Asian American women are under-represented at VP and above levels according to the 2022 McKinsey study.
  • The double paned glass ceiling puts these women at a disadvantage.
  • “The ‘Asian effect’ is 3.7X greater than the ‘gender effect’ as a glass ceiling factor," according to Ascend.

Three Types of Barriers Facing Asian American Female Professionals:

To better understand how Asian American women encounter the double-paned ceiling, we can examine the stereotypes and biases they encounter as described in my Forbes article. In particular, there are three types of biases to consider:


When it comes to evaluating leadership potential, many Asian American female professionals are taken for granted and viewed as docile “worker bees.” When they push back on these expectations, they are often mischaracterized as disrespectful and untrustworthy. On the flip side, having a reserved nature and practicing humility can be misinterpreted as a lack of self-confidence and an inability to lead. Lastly, the “tiger mom” stereotype can also unfairly cast Asian American working moms as being pushy and only focused on their children’s achievements.


Hollywood often typecasts women of Asian descent as either hyper-feminine, exotic geishas or as ninjas/assassins. This can lead to microaggressions and misconceptions in the workplace and, in turn, feelings of marginalization, invisibility and outright discrimination.


Often as first- or second-generation immigrants, Asian American women do not have access to the valuable networks that come with graduating from private schools, elite colleges or playing team sports. Moreover, some diversity programs exclude Asians, preventing equal access to diversity opportunities.

Hi, I'm Coach Kelly


I have seen many leaders succeed and fail. While there is no one way to make your ascent to career success, there are preparations and diagnostics/assessments along with personal development that can help you acclimate. By working as your coach, we can identify those "X-factors" that will help you showcase your strengths as well as build your visibility and credibility on the way up.

To further guide you along your career transformation, here are three specific areas to consider:

1. Your Power and Influence: how to empower yourself and diagnose your network to improve your influence

2. Your Promotion: let's focus on your transition into new organizations, new teams, or new responsibilities.

3. If you are ready to heed the call to add to Board Diversity, consider my "Get On Board" program.

I started Kaizen Research and Training in 2009 to help create a continuous improvement training ground for my marketing students and mentorees, and I look forward to working with you to reach your pinnacle.

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