New Issue of AAPI Nexus Examines Glass Ceilings and Health Disparities among Asian Americans
For Immediate Use
June 14, 2006
Glass Ceiling Among Asian Americans, Health Disparities
Discussed in New AAPI Nexus
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The new AAPI Nexus: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Policy, Practice and Community by the UCLA Asian American Studies Center examines whether there is a “glass ceiling” affecting Asian American professionals. Health issues also are addressed.
“A major challenge facing Asian and Pacific Americans in the labor market is whether or not they can translate their educational gains into managerial positions, particularly positions at the very top of the public and private sector,” said journal senior editor Paul Ong, a professor of Asian American studies and director of UCLA’s Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies. “The existing research, including the research published by AAPI Nexus, indicates that the glass ceiling’ is a complex phenomenon with subtle nuances. Some Asian/Pacific Islanders are affected, and others are not. The articles in this issue enrich the debate about the nature and extent of the glass ceiling and offer concrete policies and recommendations about what actions can be taken.”
Three of the journal’s chapters present disparate views on whether a glass ceiling exists for Asian Americans.
In the practitioner’s essay “Become Visible: Let Your Voice Be Heard,” Vu H. Pham, Lauren Emiko Hokoyama and J.D. Hokoyama argue that there is an absence of Asian Pacific American leaders in the private, public and nonprofit sectors, and that this underrepresentation is not due to a lack of skill or interest. Instead, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are invisible because they lack role models and mentors and because they are not perceived as “leadership material.” The authors bring a unique perspective to the journal through their work at Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, the primary Asian/Pacific Islander leadership training organization in the United States.
In the research article “Are Native-Born Asian Americans Less Likely to Be Managers? Further Evidence on the Glass-Ceiling Hypothesis,” Arthur Sakamoto, Hyeyoung Woo and Keng-Loong Yap find that native-born Asian Americans are at least as likely as whites to be managers in the private sector. The authors also find some differences in outcome by ethnicity and gender. Conflicting findings on this research point to the need for future investigation.
In the chapter titled “Asian Pacific American Senior Executives in the Federal Government” by Jeremy Wu and Carson Eoyang, the authors present a pessimistic picture of how Asian Pacific Americans have fared with respect to the glass ceiling and focus on representation at the highest career levels in the federal government. The authors draw upon two major reports from the Government Accountability Office that show “pervasive and pernicious existence of glass ceilings for Asian Pacific Americans throughout the federal government.” They recommend the development of agency-specific plans and actions, and closer congressional and Office of Personnel Management oversight. One of the key points is the need for accurate and timely work force information to monitor progress and facilitate accountability.
The journal chapters focusing on health find that there also is a critical need for accurate and timely information in the health field.
In the practitioner’s essay. “Glancing Back, Looking Forward: Some Comments on Health Research in Asian American Communities,” David Takeuchi and Seunghye Hong argue for a policy focus to guide the type of data that should be collected, including information on historical and contextual factors affecting health issues. Along with improving data collection, the authors recommend a more creative and ambitious research agenda that goes beyond simple statistics to examining the underlying causes that produce poor health, including individual socioeconomic characteristics and broad societal factors.
“Given the enormous cultural and economic diversity within the AAPI population, it is critically important to have detailed and isaggregated health statistics that can better inform health policies and programs,” Ong said. “The articles in this issue document how current data collection and research approaches fall short of achieving this goal.”
In the research article, “Singhs, Watanabes, Parks and Nguyens: A Comparison of Surname-list Samples to Probability Samples Using the California Health Interview Survey, 2001,” Ninez Ponce and Melissa Gatchell describe one method of increasing the sample size used by the state survey. This large-scale effort is conducted in five Asian American languages and supplements its random-digit-dialing sample with an over sample based on Asian surnames listed in telephone directories. The authors find that using surname lists for a survey is appropriate for some purposes but not for others.
The resource paper, “Measuring State-Level Asian America and Pacific Islander Health Disparities: The Case of Illinois” by Lauren S. Tao, Jini Han and Ami Shah highlights the potentials and limitations of state-level government statistics. The findings for Illinois, which has the nation’s sixth-largest Asian American/Pacific Islander population, are applicable for those working on health issues in states outside of California and Hawaii. The available information shows that AAPIs in Illinois suffer higher incidence, morbidity and mortality rates from certain cancers and infectious and chronic diseases. Not surprisingly, state agencies largely fail to provide ethnic-specific information, thus seriously hampering the ability to address the significant needs of disadvantaged AAPI groups. The writers conclude with a call to improve data collection and fund research on AAPI ethnic groups, to address inequities in services and care, and to eliminate the undue burden of diseases borne by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
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