Asian scientists are underrepresented in leadership roles across US STEM careers, argue Lilian Gomory Wu and Wei Jing in this week’s Nature Careers column.
As can be seen in the graph above, Asians – people from the Far East, the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia – are falling behind white people and members of other underrepresented groups, when it comes to filling leadership positions in US science. Whilst this is true for both Asian men and women, the problem seems to be compounded for female scientists, with just 4% of Asian women in industry and 28% in the federal workforce holding managerial positions. By comparison, Asians made up almost 80 per cent of doctoral recipients with temporary visas planning to work in the US. Why are they failing to reach the top?
The authors (Lilian Gomory Wu is the programme executive of IBM University Programs Worldwide in Somers, New York, and Wei Jing is a research associate in the Policy and Global Affairs division of the National Academies in Washington DC) suggest a number of factors. Some could be cultural differences in leadership style. In Asia, they say, leaders tend to be assessed on what they do, rather than their communication skills. By not using the language of leadership which is an important part of US leadership style, Asian scientists may not be perceived as good leaders, and come across as passive.
Grant applications from Asian investigators are also funded less frequently than those from black, Hispanic and white PI’s which suggest language there is also an issue.
For more, read the column in full here, and let us know what you think. Is this an issue that you have come across in the past, and what do you think should be done to level out the playing field? Let us know in the comments section below, or tweet us: @Naturejobs