Splinters from the Bamboo Ceiling: Understanding the Experiences of Asian American Men in Higher Education Leadership
Date of Graduation
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
School of Education
Organization & Leadership EdD
Asian Americans continue to confront perceptions connected to the perpetual foreigner and model minority concepts which challenges their acceptance as leaders in mainstream American culture. Asian men have recently been able to attain higher levels of education that opens doors to higher level positions and organizations yet still face barriers to career advancement opportunities. In consideration of the American higher education system, Whites continue to exceed their proportional representation in areas of the institution while Asian Americans do not. The purpose of this study is to understand how the intersection of racial and gender identity has influenced leadership through the experiences of male, Asian American higher administrators in American colleges and universities. This qualitative, phenomenological study involved recruiting 13 participants through purposeful sampling processes and snowball sampling, identifying Asian American men in American higher education leadership or managerial roles with a minimum of 10 years of experience.
Various findings emerged as each primary question was analyzed. Themes that include: (a) isolation, (b) overcompensation, (c) added responsibility, and (d) continued discrimination assisted to uncover any advantages or disadvantages that come with identifying as both Asian American and male in higher education leadership. In addition, themes such as: (a) unconscious use of privilege, (b) race as an added layer, (c) assertiveness, (d) queerness, and (e) understanding barriers for women, illuminated how characteristics of masculinity affect the experiences of the participants. Continually, concepts such as: (a) bamboo ceiling, (b) invalidation as a racial minority, (c) anti-blackness, and (d) geographic location were all indicated as aspects connected to racism experienced by the participants. Finally, in understanding how Asian American male leaders navigate barriers to career advancement in higher education the following topics were shared: (a) mentorship, networking, and sponsorship, (b) education, (c) professional development opportunities, (d) negotiating authenticity, (e) combatting stereotypes, (f) determining fit, and (g) perceptions of multicultural affairs.
The data collected in this study revealed the prevalence of White supremacy and hegemonic masculinity and their influences on the leadership structures in higher education. For Asian American men, their racial and gender identities compound themselves to create different forms of discrimination that are not as understood within conventional ways of thinking about racism and male privilege.
Adamos, J. (2019). Splinters from the Bamboo Ceiling: Understanding the Experiences of Asian American Men in Higher Education Leadership. Retrieved from https://repository.usfca.edu/diss/510
Asian American Studies Commons, Educational Leadership Commons, Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Commons