East Asians facing harassment: Study

Stereotypes hindering promotions
By Amanda Silliker
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/15/2012

East Asian employees who are assertive or speak up on the job are facing significantly more workplace harassment than dominant employees of other racial backgrounds and non-dominant East Asians, according to a study from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

East Asians are stereotyped to be competent, cold and non-dominant, found the study. When they don’t conform to these racial stereotypes, they are “unwelcome and unwanted by their co-workers,” according to “Prescriptive Stereotypes and Workplace Consequences for East Asians in North America,” published in the April issue of Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology.

“There are two sets of stereotypes. (The first is) descriptive, what people believe to be true — that East Asians are more submissive in their behaviours, more likely to take a backseat in conversations. And the second type are prescriptive and these are basically values, the way we want groups to behave — and they want East Asians to remain less dominant than whites,” said Jennifer Berdahl, professor of organizational behaviour at Rotman and lead author of the study.